Do you like snakes? No? Are you one who immediately feels terrified or begins to shiver at the very thought of the reptilian creature wrapping itself around your neck and not letting go? If so, sorry for that imagery, but you may be an Ophidiophobic.

If you're letting the fear of a poisonous snake attacking you from enjoying the great outdoors in Washington State, I've got good news. Of the roughly 12 species of snakes common to our neck of the woods, only one is venomous and potentially deadly. This critter is actually a viper.

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A Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
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The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake - a subspecies of Western Rattlesnake.

This is the only snake on the list capable of injecting venom in a bite.

At least these guys will normally give you a heads-up that they're near - rattle rattle! Keep your ears open when out walking or hiking.

A California Mountain Kingsnake on a branch, with an inset close up.
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California Mountain Kingsnake

You'll not only find these colorful snakes in California as the name implies, they're all over the Western U.S. If you've heard a version of “Red touches black, venom lack. Red touches yellow, kill a fellow”, it's a rhyme distinguishing the harmless kingsnake from the deadly coral snake.

A western territorial garter snake, with an inset close up of one being held in a hand.
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The Western Terrestrial Garter Snake

I'll bet nobody would want to find one of these anywhere near their garter. One of the many harmless snakes in Washington, for humans anyway.

A striped whipsnake close-up in a defensive pose, with an inset of one coiled.
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The Striped Whipsnake

Looks good in stripes and intelligent! Great combo. This nonvenomous snake preys on lizards, other snakes, small mammals, and insects.

A copper colored Sharptail Snake, with an inset close up of its head.
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The Sharptail Snake

Sometimes called Sharp-Tailed. Sometimes called late for dinner. As you can tell, their coloration is fairly drab despite their wicked name.

A ringnecked snake coiled on a rock; an inset shows their head close up near a shed.
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The Ringnecked Snake

Betcha can't guess how this one got its name. A classy collar gives this snake away as another safe snake to pass by on the trail.

A racer snake coiled defensively on the right; on the left, one performing a periscope.
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The RACER Snake

As the name implies, they're fast and while they're considered constrictors, they really don't constrict their prey, so much as they wrap a couple of coils around the prey - wearing it out - and gobbling it down - alive.

A defensively posed pacific gopher snake, with an inset of a close-up of its head.
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The Pacific Gopher Snake

I was really hoping to find out that this guy was named after Fred Grandy's character on 'The Love Boat' but, no such luck. The Herpetologist I interviewed just gave me blank stare.

A northwestern garter snake coiled, with an inset of one being held by a human hand.
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The Northwestern Garter Snake

This little guy is among a few different species of Garter Snake found in our area and is perhaps the smallest.

 

Via Youtube Screenshot technoendo
Via Youtube Screenshot technoendo
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The Northern Desert Night Snake

When encountered, at night, this one is often, at first glance, misidentified as a rattlesnake.

A black and yellow striped common garter snake; an inset shows the close up of one's face.
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The Common Garter Snake

Common, perhaps, but not unremarkable. Nice stripes and a good listener.

A coiled Great Basin Gopher Snake; an inset shows one's head.
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The BULL Snake

AKA The Great Basin Gopher Snake.

 

Check out this video for a squiggly good time and more herpetology than you can shake a stick at. (not that I've tried shaking a stick at a herpetologist).

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