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[photo, Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Glen Burnie, Maryland]

Although reptiles are classified by four orders, only two are found in Maryland: Scaled Reptiles (squamata), and Shelled Reptiles (testudines). While Shelled Reptiles encompass only turtles, Scaled Reptiles include Snakes (serpentes), and Lizards (lacertilia).

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Glen Burnie, Maryland, May 2011. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), Tawes Building, Dept. of Natural Resources, Annapolis, Maryland] As diverse as their types, Maryland reptiles have many options during the colder months. In addition to hibernation and migration, brumation is a trait unique to reptiles. When reptiles brumate, they remain semi-dormant, going months without food. Still, they remain aware of their surroundings, but only move to secure water.

Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), Tawes Building, Dept. of Natural Resources, Annapolis, Maryland, October 2009. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

In Maryland, snakes are found mostly in rural and wooded areas. While most are harmless to humans, two species are poisonous: Copperhead, and Timber Rattlesnake.

Classified as testudines, turtles come in many shapes and sizes. From the Diamondback Terrapin, to the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Maryland exemplifies this diversity. Known as "sea turtles", members of the Cheloniidae family possess distinct flippers instead of legs, and spend most of their lives underwater. Due to human and animal predations (as well as risks associated with their extensive travels) all species of sea turtles found in Maryland are classified as either endangered, or threatened.

Whether possessing flippers, feet, or nothing at all, numerous examples of Maryland's reptile populace are on display at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.



All reptiles noted below are native to Maryland.

Black Racer, Northern (Coluber constrictor)
Carnivore; serpentes; Dark gray to black coloring; averages 71 inches long. While classified in the constrictor species, the Black Racer actually does not constrict. Instead, it pins its prey by coiling around it, then swallows it whole.

Brownsnake, Dekay's (Storeia dekayi)
Carnivore; nocturnal; serpentes; approx. 15 inches long; gray-brown color, with lighter dorsal stripe edged in black spots. Can live as long as seven years; prefers rocky terrain, but commonly occurs in urban and suburban areas.

Cornsnake (Pantherosphis guttatus)
Carnivore; diuranal; serpentes; hibernates during winter months; 4 to 6 feet long; orange to brown-yellow scales, with black outlined patches of red along spine; skilled climber. Can live as long as twenty years; prefers overgrown fields, meadows and marshes. Also known as Red Ratsnake

Cooter, Northern Red-bellied (Pseudemys rubriventris)
Omnivore; testudines; 10 to 12 inches long; weighs up to 10 lbs.; distinct bright red "belly", with dark brown to black patterns. Also known as American Red-bellied Turtle.

Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
Poisonous; carnivore; serpentes; 20 to 37 inches long; color ranges from tan to brown, with distinct "hourglass-shaped" bands of darker color (although not all bands will be this shape); juveniles possess distinct bright-colored tail, used to draw prey. Prefers coniferous forests and swamps. While mistaken for northern water snake, copperhead bands are wider at belly, and taper to spine. Also known as American Copperhead, Death Adder, and Moccasin.

Earthsnake, Eastern Smooth (Virginia valeriae)
Carnivore; serpentes; 7 to 10 inches long; brown, gray, or red in color; burrower. While mistaken for mountain earthsnake, eastern smooth earthsnake scales are more flush and smooth. First recorded specimen, Kent County.

Earthsnake, Mountain (Virginia pulchra)
Carnivore; serpentes; 7 to 13 inches long; brown, gray, or red in color; prefers coniferous forests, mountainous terrain. Mistaken for eastern smooth earthsnake, but mountain earthsnake scales are more keeled, or rough.
Classified as Endangered in Maryland.

Gartersnake, Eastern (Thamnophis sirtalis)
Carnivore; serpentes; hibernates during winter months; dark green in color; distinct three stripe pattern ranging from gray to yellow. Can live up to ten years; prefers marshes, meadows, and gardens.

Green Snake, Rough (Opheodrys aestivus)
Insectivore; diurnal; serpentes; 20 to 30 inches long; bright green body with white to yellow bellies. While mistaken for smooth green snake, rough green snake scales are more keeled, or rough.

Green Snake, Smooth (Opheodrys vernalis)
Insectivore; serpentes; bright green body, with off-white belly; 12 to 36 inches long; Prefers meadows and prairies. Mistaken for rough green snake, but smooth green snake scales are more flush, and smooth. Also known as Grass Snake.

Kingsnake, Eastern (Lampropeltis getula)
Carnivore; serpentes; diurnal; shiny black body, with distinct white or yellow bands; 36 to 48 inches long; usually found near bodies of water. Resistant to venom, eastern kingsnake diet may include copperheads and rattlesnakes. Also known as Chain Snake.

Kingsnake, Yellow-bellied (Lampropeltis calligaster)
Serpentes; gray to light brown in color, with red or brown patches, and a white to yellow belly. Prefers forest clearings, and open fields. Also known as Brown Kingsnake.

Lizard, Eastern Fence (Sceloporus udulatus)
Insectivore; lacertilia; ranges from gray to brown. Female has black stripes along back. During mating season, male shows distinct bright blue patches on throat and belly. Prefers forests, and spends most of its life in trees.

Milksnake, Coastal Plain (Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides)

Milksnake, Eastern (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum)

Pinesnake (Pituophis malanoleucus)
Carnivore; serpentes; body is light brown, covered in patches of black, and dark or reddish browns; 48 to 100 inches long. Prefers coniferous forests, and farmland. Also known as Common Pinesnake, or Northern Pinesnake.

Racerunner, Six-lined (Cnemidophorus sexlineatus)
Insectivore; diurnal; lacertilia; hibernates; 6 to 9.5 inches long; tail is usually two-thirds of total length; ranges in color from dark green to black, with six distinct yellow to green stripes running from head to tail. Prefers grasslands with dry soil.

[photo, Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta), Glen Burnie, Maryland] Ratsnake, Eastern (Pantherosphis alleghaniensis)
Carnivore; serpentes; 47 to 72 inches long; completely black except for white chin. Prefers deciduous forests; nests in hollow trees, or empty rodent dens.

Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta), Glen Burnie, Maryland, May 2010. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Rattlesnake, Timber (Crotalus horridus)
Poisonous; carnivore; serpentes; 35 to 60 inches long; distinct head is noticably wider than body, with "rattle" on tip of tail. Prefers deciduous forests, and rocky terrain.

Sea Turtle, Atlantic Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Carnivore; testudines.
Classified as

Sea Turtle, Green (Chelonia mydas)
Carnivore; testudines.
Classified as Threatened.

Sea Turtle, Kemp's Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Carnivore; testudines.
Classified as Endangered.

Sea Turtle, Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)
Carnivore; testudines; largest sea turtle.
Classified as Endangered.

Sea Turtle, Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Carnivore; testudines; 31 to 45 inches long; weighs 170 to 350 lbs.; yellow-brown skin, with reddish-brown shell. Distinguished by disproportionately large head. Largest hard-shelled turtle in world.
Classified as Threatened.

Skink, Broad-headed (Plestiodon laticeps)
Carnivore; lacertilia; juveniles possess striped faces and bright blue tails; adult females retain striped face, while male faces turn red to orange; blue tail fades with age.

Skink, Coal (Plestiodon anthracinus)
Carnivore; lacertilia; 5 to 7 inches long
Classified as Endangered.

Skink, Five-lined (Plestiodon fasciatus)
Carnivore; lacertilia

Skink, Ground (Scincella lateralis)
Carnivore; lacertilia

Slider, Red-eared (Trachemys scripta)
Omnivore; testudines; brumates during winter months; 8-13 inches long; distinct red stripe on each side of head.

Snake, Eastern Hog-nosed (Heterodon platirhinos)

Snake, Eastern Ribbon (Thamnophis sauritus)

Snake, Eastern Worm (Carphophis amoenus)

Snake, Northern Ring-necked (Diadophis punctatus edwarsi)

Snake, Queen (Regina septemvittata)

Snake, Rainbow (Farancia erytrogramma)
Classified as Endangered.

Snake, Red-bellied (Storeia occipitomaculata)

Snake, Scarlet (Cemophora coccinea)

Snake, Southern Ring-necked (Diadophis punctatus punctatus)

[photo, Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), Tawes Building, Dept. of Natural Resources, Annapolis, Maryland] Terrapin, Diamondback (Malaclemys terrapin)
Carnivore; testudines; 4 to 7 inches long. State Reptile of Maryland.

Turtle, Bog (Glyptemys muhlenbergii)
Classified as Threatened.

Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), Tawes Building, Dept. of Natural Resources, Annapolis, Maryland, April 2009. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Glen Burnie, Maryland] Turtle, Eastern Box (Terrapene carolina)

Turtle, Eastern Mud (Kinosternon subrubrum)

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Glen Burnie, Maryland, October 2009. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Glen Burnie, Maryland] Turtle, Eastern Musk (Sternotherus odoratus)

Turtle, Eastern Painted (Chrysemys picta picta)

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Glen Burnie, Maryland, May 2011. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Turtle, Midland Painted (Chrysemys picta marginata)

Turtle, Northern Map (Graptemys geographica)

Turtle, Snapping (Chelydra serpentina)

Turtle, Spiny Softshelled (Apalone spinifera)
Classified as In Need of Conservation.

Turtle, Spotted (Clemmys guttata)

Turtle, Wood (Glyptemys insculpta)

Water Snake, Northern (Nerodia sipedon)
Serpentes; hibernates during winter months; saliva is mild anticoagulant, but poses little risk to humans. Mistaken for copperheads, but northern water snake bands are wider at spine, and taper to belly.

Water Snake, Red-bellied (Nerodia erythrogaster)

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2011

August 9, 2011   
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