Everything You Need to Know About Colubrid Snakes

Whether you’re into reptiles, or someone looking to get in on the action, you may have heard the term Colubrid – or Colubridae – being thrown around. We get why this may seem confusing, so we’ll be taking some time to explain what this phrase actually means. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, you’re definitely in the right place.

We’ll be going over a lot of information today, but everything will be broken down into easy-to-read sections for your convenience. Please feel free to skip around if you need to -as we’re more than sure you all have varying levels of knowledge about Colubrid or Colubridae- but we definitely recommend giving each section a read.

Now, with that being said, here is a look at what we’ll be going over today:

  • What makes a snake Colubrid
  • The characteristics of Colubrid or Colubridae snakes
  • A look at a few other snake families
  • A brief recap

So now that you know what we’ll be discussing here, let’s not waste any more time, and dive right in.

Get ready to familiarize yourself with Colubrid snakes!

Okeeteee corn snake
The Okeeteee corn snake is a Colubrid.

What makes a snake Colubrid? What does Colubridae family even mean?

Before we get into the different types of Colubrid or Colubridae snakes, it’s important that you know exactly what they are. We know that it sounds very scientific so far, but trust us on this one, understanding what makes a snake Colubrid is actually quite simple. Let’s have a look.

What is Colubrid or Colubridae, anyway?

A Colubrid snake is essentially a snake that belongs to the Colubridae family of snakes. So to keep things simple, when the phrases Colubrid or Colubridae are used, a family of snakes is being referred to. Pretty simple so far, right?

The Colubridae is the largest snake family on the planet. This is due to the fact that most snakes within the Colubridae family actually share qualities with snakes from other families.

Now, with that being said, the reason that this family of snakes is so large is quite simple; most of these snakes have been grouped together due to slight differences from other snake families.

Docile kingsnake
Kingsnakes are Colubrids.

What else do I need to know about Colubrid snakes?

This snake family is actually one of the most common snake families on the planet. For example, there is a Colubrid snake on every continent aside from Antarctica. Also, Colubrid snakes actually make up two-thirds of the entire snake population.

So when it really comes down to it, the phrases Colubrid or Colubridae are referring to a family of snakes. At face value, this is really all the words mean. Don’t worry, though, because we have a lot more in store for you.

The characteristics of Colubrid or Colubridae snakes

Now that you know a little bit about what a Colubrid or Colubridae snake is, we can finally take a look at some of the traits that this family of snakes shares. Therefore, in this section, we’ll be taking a look at what makes a snake Colubrid or Colubridae. Let’s have ourselves a look.

What do Colubrid snakes look like?

When it comes to identifying Colubrid snakes up close, they tend to vary in appearance. This is due to the fact that there are so many different types of snakes in the Colubridae family, but one thing they all have in common is scales. Now, with that being said, most Colubrid snakes will be almost entirely covered in scales.

Also, Colubrid snakes tend to have longer bodies than other snake families. This means they can achieve some pretty interesting lengths. On another note, Colubrid snakes are also pretty good at swimming, but there are definitely some exceptions.

When visualizing Colubrid snakes, think lots of scales and long slender bodies.

5 large pet snakes that aren't boas or pythons | Snake Hacks
The bullsnake is a Colubrid.

What about the temperament of a Colubrid?

When looking at snakes in general, something you’ll want to keep an eye on is their temperament. Think about it, you don’t want to get bit by a snake, right? Luckily, most Colubrid snakes are not very dangerous. This is due to the fact that most of them are fairly docile in nature.

This actually makes them great pets, which is why you’ll see plenty of Colubrid snakes domesticated.

Are Colubrid snakes venomous?

Another thing you’ll want to consider is venom. Some snakes possess venom that can take down a human being, which means you’ll definitely want to steer clear of those breeds. The good news is that most Colubrid snakes are not venomous, and even the ones that are won’t be too dangerous.

What is the largest Colubrid snake?

The Indigo snake is definitely the largest snake within the Colubridae family. These snakes are typically found within North America, and the size might surprise you. This is due to the fact that the largest Indigo snake found was over 9 feet long. When you compare that to some other snakes out there, that size alone is quite impressive.

Don’t worry, though, because most Colubrid snakes don’t reach close to 10 feet in length.

How long do Colubrid or Colubridae snakes live?

This is actually a hard question to answer because there are thousands of different snakes within this family. While this may be the case, there does seem to be an average trend. For example, a snake such as the corn snake lives for about 15 to 20 years. Please keep in mind that this number can vary, but 10 to 15 years is a good place to start when looking at Colubrid snakes.

What is their habitat like?

It’s also important that we take a look at the habitat of Colubrid snakes. While the habitat of other snake families may be similar, this is actually not the case for Colubrid snakes. This is due to the fact that the Colubridae family of snakes varies greatly, but don’t worry, we have some of the common habitats for you.

How to care for a black racer
The southern black racer is a Colubrid.

Here is a quick look at some of the more common Colubrid habitats:

  • In tropical habitats
  • Colubrid snakes may live in trees, but hunt on the ground
  • Some Colubrid snakes may swim in places like swamps
  • Some Colubrid snakes may burrow within the soil
  • Some Colubrid snakes may even survive in the colder climates

So when it comes to their habitat, we can’t give you a definitive answer.

What do Colubrid snakes eat?

As we mentioned during a brief look at Colubrid habitats, there is so much variation between species that it can be hard to give you one solid answer. Now, with that being said, here is a list of what a Colubrid snake diet might look like:

While their diet may be varied, we do know that Colubrid snakes will most likely ambush or chase their prey.

We would love to give you a solid answer on their diet, but with so many species it can be hard to tell. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you’re definitely not on their menu.

Is the corn snake a Colubrid snake?

Finally, we want to give you a point of reference for what a Colubrid snake is like. Now, with that being said, the corn snake is most definitely a Colubrid snake. While we could bore you with a list of over 1,000 snakes, if you use the corn snake as a point of reference, it should be a bit easier to determine which snakes are part of the Colubridae family.

Some honorable mentions

We don’t want to leave you totally confused, so if you want to take a look at some common species from the Colubridae family, here are a few to look at:

Keep in mind that this is only a brief list, and as we mentioned earlier, there are thousands of species out there. So if you want to learn about them all, we definitely recommend finding a solid list.

Are Colubrid snakes good pets?

As with a lot of other things we’ve gone over, this really comes down to the individual species. The good news is that most of these snakes are relatively docile, which means that they can make solid pets. Now, with that being said, there are plenty of Colubrid snakes that have been domesticated.

When push comes to shove, these are the main traits that you can look out for. Unfortunately, with so many different species of Colubrid snakes out there, it can be hard to determine what is what. Luckily, these traits should help.

A look at a few other snake families

So far we’ve gone over some of the traits that make a snake Colubrid or Colubridae. While this may seem like enough, Colubrid or Colubridae snakes are not the only snakes out there. Therefore, in this section, we’ll be breaking down some of the other snake families for you. This way you’ll have more to work with when it comes to identifying Colubrid or Colubridae snakes.


The Elapidae family of snake is pretty similar to the Colubridae family of snakes in quite a few ways. Elapidae snakes, like Colubrid snakes, have long bodies that appear to be slender. While this may be the case, this is where the similarities start to end.

The major difference between the Elapidae family and the Colubridae family is their habitat and venom. This is due to the fact that Elapidae snakes tend to enjoy tropical climates, and are venomous snakes. Also, Elapidae snakes tend to be a bit more active and aggressive than Colubrid snakes as well.


The Boidae family of snakes is what you might know as Boas. These snakes tend to be quite large in size, and are usually native to the Americas (within rainforests). Boa snakes are much different than Colubrid snakes, and you’ll definitely be able to tell the difference if you’re looking at them side-by-side.

Boidae snakes are also common household snakes because most of them can be quite docile in nature.


The Pythonidae family of snakes is what you may know as a python snake. Pythonidae species of snakes are vastly different than Colubrid snakes and tend to use constriction as a means to eat. They’re typically native to tropical areas within the Eastern Hemisphere.

A common snake from the Phythonidae family is the ball python. This is a common domesticated snake due to its docile nature and appealing qualities (appearance).


The Viperidae family of snakes is what you may know as a Viper snake. These snakes are very dangerous and are quite numerous. This means that you can find them in most regions of the word, and all snakes from the Viperidae family tend to have sharp fangs. These fangs are typically used to inject venom into their prey.

We definitely recommend staying away from viper snakes, and they’re typically not a highly domesticated species either.

So as you can see -when it comes to snake families- there are more than you think. Each snake family has different qualities that set them aside from others, and knowing these traits can help you identify each family if you need to.

The Australian spotted python
Spotted python (Pythonidae)
Hog Island Boa
Hog Island boa (Boidae)

Final thoughts

We know that we chewed your ear off quite a bit so far. The good news is that you should now be able to tell the difference between Colubrid snakes and other snake families. With so many different species to look out for, we definitely understand how this can all seem a bit confusing at first.

Now, with that being said, we also know that this can get pretty tough to follow. Therefore, if you ever feel you need to, please feel free to refer back to this article as a guide.

Every snake family is going to be a bit different from another. The only tricky part about snakes is that there are so many different species within each family. Therefore, when it comes to distinguishing a Colubridae snake from say an Elapidae snake, make sure you look closely.

Now that you know everything you need to know about what makes a snake Colubrid or Colubridae, we hope that we’ve helped.

Please leave your comments below!

Everything You Need to Know About Colubrid Snakes

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