do black snakes bite

Do Black Snakes Bite?

Black snakes, like most snakes, can bite if they feel threatened. Although black snakes primarily serve as a beneficial addition to the ecosystem, their bites are a method of defense. Understanding their behavior and taking proper caution may help avoid bites and keep you, and the snake, safe.

Black Snake Species

The term “black snake” is used to refer to a few different species of snakes. Some common examples of black snakes are:

  • Eastern Rat Snake (or Black Ratsnake)
  • Southern Black Racer
  • Western Rat Snake

These species vary in size, appearance, and behavior, but share the same generalities of being non-venomous, and primarily feed on rodents, frogs, insects, and other snakes.

Biting Behavior

Black snakes will typically avoid contact with people and other predators, but may bite as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened. These snakes do not carry any venom, so one should not worry about venomous consequences. However, many species of snakes can carry disease, so it is best to practice caution and seek medical attention if a bite is received.


The best way to avoid being bitten by a black snake is to use precautionary measures, such as:

  • Avoid areas known to have a high snake population, such as wooded or swampy areas
  • Treat all snakes with respect and give them plenty of space to escape
  • Do not handle any wild snakes
  • Do not approach snakes, instead, move away from them

The beneficial addition of black snakes to the ecosystem far outweighs the occasional need for caution. Being aware and using caution may help to keep you and them safe.

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