Scarletsnake Cemophora coccinea - Endangered

Adult from the Florida panhandle


Scarletsnakes are not likely to be encountered in Indiana and have never been observed outside of Floyd County. They are small white-gray snakes with red dorsal blotches and a pointed snout (used for burrowing). They are smaller than most other snakes with similar patterning with adults reaching lengths of around two feet (60 cm) long.

Scarletsnake are most likely to be confused with Eastern Milksnakes. However, Scarletsnakes have more pointed snouts, immaculate white bellies (Eastern Milksnakes usually have patterned underbellies), and a mostly red head.

Ecology and Conservation


It is likely that this species was never common in Indiana, and is now extirpated. During the mid-1900's, an adult Scarletsnake was found along railroad tracks on a steep forested slope in Floyd County and two juveniles were found under rocks on a nearby glade. In Kentucky, Scarletsnakes are found in similar habitat on and around open, rocky glades. These snakes are burrowers that could be overlooked in such a small, rugged part of the state. However, repeated and targeted survey efforts have not turned up any additional Scarletsnakes and they are considered endangered in Indiana.


Only one subspecies--the Northern Scarletsnake (C. c. copei) is found in Indiana. These snakes are members of the family Colubridae, which is represented by a total of 28 species in Indiana.

Literature Cited

Conant, R. and J. T . Collins. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY.

Minton, S. A. Jr. 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN.

Distribution Map
Distribution of the Scarletsnake (Cemophora coccinea)

Maps may include both verified and unverified observations. Record verification occurs periodically as time allows.