The Snakes Who Love New Mexico
New Mexico isn’t just popular among our human residents and tourists. It’s also a lovely place to live in the eyes of a snake. In fact, there are 46 different species in the state, and only eight of those are poisonous. Many are afraid of snakes, though this is primarily due to misinformation and the general stigma that snakes face in polite society.
In reality, snakes are great for the environment, helpful in your yard and garden, useful in keeping the rodent population down, and highly unlikely to harm you as long as you respect their space. Of course, you still need to be cautious around potentially venomous creatures, but don’t let a lack of information stop you from getting to know these remarkable residents of New Mexico.
Dangerous New Mexico Snakes
There are eight species of New Mexico snakes with a poisonous venom. Seven of those are rattlesnakes. Though they vary in appearance, you’ll recognize them from the distinct and unnerving sound of their rattling tails. Of these, the most frightening are the Mojave rattlesnakes which are highly venomous and quick to strike. The most dangerous of all rattlesnakes in the world, they look a lot like the Western diamondback and black-tailed rattlesnakes. The Mojave rattlesnake is distinguished from these two by the white bands on the tail which are much thicker than the black.
Then, there are the highly venomous Sonoron coral snakes. These can be identified by their red, yellow or white, and black markings. The red and black stripes are wider and separated by the narrower yellow or white stripes. They look similar to the common coral snake, but the white or yellow rings will be much wider on the venomous Sonoron coral snake than they are on the non-venomous look-alike. Be careful to avoid these dangerous snakes, but don’t let them scare you away from the company of their safer cousins.
Safe New Mexico Snakes
Fortunately, the safe snakes of New Mexico vastly outnumber the dangerous ones. The most common of these are the bull snakes and the common garter snakes. The most colorful among the New Mexico’s non-venomous snakes include the gray-banded kingsnake with its gray and bright orange rings, the pretty red coachwhip snakes (which are also seen in other colors), and the plains garter snake with a long yellow or orange stripe down its back.
Be aware that the word, ‘safe,’ only means that these snakes won’t kill you. The ‘safe’ New Mexico snakes can still bite and you want to exercise reasonable caution when viewing or handling any snake. It’s also important to be respectful of the wildlife around you. Many of these snakes are plentiful, but others are threatened species, at risk of becoming endangered. Examples of threatened snakes in New Mexico include the narrow-headed garter snake and the ridge-nosed rattlesnake.
It’s generally not a good idea to catch and keep a wild snake as a pet, so if you’re looking for a pet snake, you’ll want to check local pet stores and breeders instead.
Do you have a favorite snake? Or do you avoid them at all costs? Let us know in the comments.