This site helps you learn how to identify any snake native to Western Massachusetts (Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Berkshire counties). You can find additional information about snakes by checking the links, references, and Terminology section. Share what you discover with your friends—you may even convert a few ophidiophobes.
The impetus for this site was the designation of 2013 as the Year of The Snake by the Partners for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC). Partial support for production was made possible by a semester-long sabbatical granted by Berkshire Community College.
Report your observations: Add the snakes you see to a growing database to create a better understanding of the distribution, relative abundance, and natural history of the 14 fabulous species who call Western Massachusetts home. This is especially important if you see a rare or endangered species; be sure to log it here.
About 1977, after I landed my first job with Mass Audubon, I wanted to help people learn to identify snakes found in the region. After checking as many other state’s lists and similar documents that I could gather I decided to make a simple key based on overall looks to distinguish each species.
Our snakes readily fall into one of three categories, based on what they look like from the top (the surface most commonly seen):
They have one or more yellow stripes running from their nose to tail,
They are basically one solid color, or,
They are variably patterned with blotches, bands, spots or other markings.
This “Three Pattern” system has been relatively successful, in most cases, so I continue to use it here.
Please note that the written and visual information here are freely available for educational purposes; no commercial rights are granted. Please acknowledge the author (Tom Tyning) and this Web Site (westernmassnaturalist.org). Thanks!
Throughout, links are underlined that will take you to either another page, another WEB site, or to the Terminology section. Navigate to the various pages using the drop-down menus at the top of each page. This site was first constructed with Apple’s IWeb software then moved to Sandvox. It is optimized for Google Chrome and works on Netscape, Safari, and Foxfire, but the video doesn't seem to work for Internet Explorer below version 11. Imbedded movie clips are in m4v format.