Northern Scarlet Snake Cemophora coccinea copei

Family: Colubridae - Harmless Egg-Laying Snakes

Typical Adult Size: 14 to 20 inches

Reproduction: egg laying

Eye Pupil: round

Dorsal Scales: smooth

Anal Scale: single

SC Range Map

Additional Images

Scarlet Snakes are small constricting snakes similar to the kingsnakes. They are smooth scaled and colorfully marked. Adult size is considered to be in the range of 14 to 20 inches. However, most the specimens I have found have been in the range of 12 to 15 inches in length; although the largest specimen I have found was approximately 20 inches. Its body was much stouter than the smaller specimens.

Scarlet Snakes are considered to be mimics of the venomous Coral Snake. Scarlet Snakes have plain whithish or yellowish bellies and, thus, are easily distinguishable from the Coral Snakes.

My experience in the Piedmont has been that Scarlet Snakes are uncommon. I discovered my first live Scarlet Snake hiding under piece of plywood one frosty October morning over 40 years ago. The second live specimen I found crossing a rural road on a May night in 1998. Both of these specimens were found in Laurens County. The largest specimen I have found was in June 1998 on a residential road in Georgetown County. Since that time I have found several more specimens. Scarlet Snakes are more common in the Sandhills, Coastal Plain, and Coast than in the Piedmont where I spend most of my time. It has been said that in these regions, Scarlet Snakes are the species most often trapped by falling into swimming pools.

Additional Images:

Northern Scarlet Snake Cemophora coccinea copei
adult length = 14.5 inches
juvenile length = approx. 7 inches
adult length = approx. 12 inches
adult length = approx. 14 inches
Return to top of page

Return to SC Snake Index

July 07, 2009
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians