4 Deadly Poisonous (Venomous) Snakes in America
For your safety, know these 4 poisonous (venomous) snakes, and what they look like – to avoid being bitten by one.
There are thousands of types (species) of snakes in the world, while more than one hundred species are found in North America – and some of them are poisonous (venomous).
The poisonous (venomous) snakes of North America fall into two groups:
Coral Snakes and Pit Vipers (which include Rattlesnakes, Cottonmouth, & Copperhead)
SNAKE BITE KIT (Sawyer Products Extractor Pump Kit)
First, know that snakes only bite when they are provoked (typically), or when you’ve unknowingly startled them. By simply leaving them alone, you should be okay.
These dangerous snakes have a heat-sensitive sensory organ on each side of the head that enables them to locate warm-blooded prey and strike accurately, even in the dark.
The Copperhead, a pit viper, widespread throughout the United States, is responsible for most of the venomous bites.
Copperhead bites are painful, but rarely pose a serious threat to human life.
However, anyone who is bitten by a Copperhead should still seek medical attention as soon as possible.
They are usually a tan to copper color, but can vary widely based on region.
Common are the patches of hourglass markings on its back and their copper-colored triangular looking head.
The Copperhead typically ranges from Massachusetts to Nebraska to Texas and the south-east United States.
The coral snake is the most toxic of the four on this list.
It’s venom is a powerful neurotoxin and unless you get prompt snake bite treatment, the bite will shut down your nervous system, your heart will stop beating, and you will likely die.
The coral snake is identified by the red, yellow and black bands that ring the length of its body, and it has a blunt black snout.
The Coral snake colors are always red, then yellow (thinner band), then black.
Coral snakes and the similar looking (but harmless) King snake (red snout), are often mistaken for each other.
Here’ how to remember:
“Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.” (Deadly Coral snake)
“Red touch black, friend of Jack.” (Harmless King snake)
The Eastern Coral Snake typically ranges from North Carolina through Florida and along Mississippi.
The Western Coral Snake typically ranges in Arizona.
The Texas Coral Snake typically ranges in (yes, you guessed it — Texas). Also Arkansas and Louisiana.
The Cottonmouth, also called “water moccasin”, is an aggressively fast, nasty, cranky pit viper with large venom glands.
They have a thick, heavy body and are brown, olive to grayish/black with a flat-topped head.
The Cottonmouth’s bite is far more serious than that of the Copperhead and can be fatal.
When annoyed, the Cottonmouth tends to stand its ground and may gape repeatedly at an intruder, exposing the light “cotton” lining of its mouth.
The Cottonmouth typically ranges from Virginia to Florida to Texas to Missouri.
Probably the best known snake in the world, the Rattlesnake is a pit viper found almost everywhere in the United States, and is capable of a deadly bite.
Its trademark rattle strikes fear into anyone who hears it.
With their huge pair of fangs, and while there are many varieties of rattlesnakes,
The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake… Give this rattlesnake a wide berth; it is the most dangerous snake in North America! Although the venom of this species is similar to that of most rattlers (and less potent drop-for-drop than that of the coral snakes), a large Eastern Diamondback is capable of delivering a large amount of venom deep into the flesh of its victims. This snake is also known for standing its ground when threatened. They range from North Carolina to Florida. Also Mississippi and Louisiana.
The Western Diamondback is one of the more deadly rattlers, nearly as much as the Eastern Diamondback, and is most often visualized from pictures and Western movies. They range from California to Arkansas to Mexico.
The Timber Rattlesnake is in abundance and ranges from the northeast through Florida, Minnesota and Texas, and is commonly found on Wooded hillsides and rocky outcrops. It has a slightly more laid back reputation but make no mistake, it is deadly.
United States Range Map: Copperhead, Cottonmouth, Coral Snake
Note: There are always exceptions. The following range map indicates predominant regions, whereas these snakes are sometimes found beyond what is ‘typical’.
I have encountered all but the timber rattler in my time. Let me tell you, when you stumble across a coral snake it will stop your heart. Same with moccasins, those boys are super fast and they will chase you, so watch it while in Florida. In addition, moccasins are truly the perfect color and shade so as to be nearly invisible when not moving.
Amen, the Moccasin’s is nasty and I have the marks to prove it.As a 10 yr old warrior of the valleys creeks and hill sides of south east Kansas called the Flint Hills. A late afternoon fishing trip got ugly. Your RIGHT ON about being perfect color. Also do not agree with there location maps.? I have killed Moccasins West Texas the Rio and the bite I got was north west of there maps location.
P.S I still have the skin of the Moccasin that left his bite marks on me now 63.
Thanks for the comment
wow Chris..you lived to tell about your snake bite..congrats..
I killed a 5 ‘ 1″ Cottonmouth east of Orlando Fla.
(old school). Surveying for a power line thru the Mormon lands. I smelled him before I saw him. He was hunting us as we were trying to find him. I looked around and he was behind me looking over a bush. I had a bush hook (proper name is a ditch bank blade). It was used by convicts in the south chain gangs. In ‘Cool Hand Luke’ they show one that had never been used or sharpened. It has a 4′ handle. I’m sure glad because I got him right behind the head as he was coming at me. The head was still able to bite. We were carrying the body out and it still able to strike headless. Scared the $hit out of me. I put the head in a fire ant bed to have it stripped clean. 1.5″ between fangs.
moccasins will also drop out of trees when they sense an animal below them… just to bite/kill it. an animal they know is not a threat, that they cannot eat, and that has full ability to kill them…. they will just gungho go for it
Snakes do not drop out of trees just to murder something. That is ignorant to say that. They will if startled but it’s rare. They try to stay still and unnoticed. I’m a herpetologist and breed cottonmouths and rattlesnakes. I have for 30 yrs and I know these snakes very well.
Why do you breed them….for anti venom?
I will tell you from experience and from numerous stories from friends/relatives that mocs will drop from a tree to the ground, into a boat, into the water and chase you, an animal or whatever they choose all with the intent of injecting you. Tell that ass to get bent.
They will come after you!!! I don’t know if they are being proactive in defending themselves or are territorial, but I had property with a pond and there were times we couldn’t fish. The snakes would swim straight for us and I didn’t hang around to test if they would actually bite.
They were defending their territory. You are much larger than the snake and they were afraid. Smart not to see if they would bite, even though they probably would not, since they have better uses for their venom.
Cottonmouths rarely chase people. I have never been chased but my mom has. She was skiing in the water and got too close to the nest. They only chase people if they are scared or protecting their babies which usually leave in a week or two.
Cottonmouths don’t have “nests” and don’t have anything to do with their offspring. That is just an old worn out story to scare people. There are probably more misinformation (lies) told about cottonmouths than any other snake. Ive lived around them my whole life and had many of them swim right by me when I was in the water. And MOST snakes that people say are cottonmouths are just harmless water snakes.
Yes I watched one as a child do just that to my older brother!!
Yes I’m arguing with herpatologists s who claim snakes never chase people …But I picked up a snake with a stick to move it off the trail for livestock to pass and the snake started to chase me every time that it saw me …It would race up a sapling and launch itself in my direction …It seemed too long to be a water moccasin tho …it was spotted and red and rattled it’s tail like a rattlesnake but no rattle ..what could it be ??
Yes, the cottonmouth-water moccasins will fall or jump out of trees into your boat. I have been in a boat and had this to happen. My family and I lived on and farm river ground( behind the levee) year back and when the Old Might Mississippi would flood our transportation was by boating. The bottom line is there was more then once that a snake fell, jump, even tried to craw up in the boat. The trees had so many mostly water moccasins in them that my Daddy keep a gun with him to shoot the snakes.
Have known of a cotton mouth to fall out of the trees and into the boat. They love the trees. They seem to know all the good fishing holes are and takes a keen eye to spot
thank you for that !
Why in the hell would you breed poisonous snakes
Professionals Breed poisonous snakes for the venom to make anti venom. So that people bitten by poisonous snakes can be treated and saved from the clutches of death.
I would like to share some misunderstandings about poisonous snakes and antivenom. While antivenom can prevent death it is by no means eliminates negative effects of snake bites. Depending on the type of snake you may still require skin grafts and depending on the location of the bite might lose fingers or toes.
Also, I understand that about 20% of the population may have a severe allergic reaction to antivenom which can be almost as dangerous as the bite itself. Also, snakes grow larger in warmer environments, so while a 5 foot water moccasin would be rarely if ever found in NC in Louisiana a snake that size is not that rare. I also wonder if water moccasins do not prey on other snakes because in Louisiana it is rare to see other species of snakes when water moccasins are very common. Typically a large snake will have more venom to inject. Many countries do not typically stock specific antivenom and a single dose can cost more than $20,000 USD due to the labor intense process of creating antivenom. Oddly antivenom is produced by injecting horses with venom then extracting the antivenom later.
I have missed being bitten a number of times by less than a few feet. As a child at camp all day we heard a strange noise going into our cabin. The noise was the rattle of a huge Eastern Diamond Back which was under the open stairs going into the cabin and could have struck at anytime. I have narrowly missed stepping on two copperheads and was within two feet of the largest water moccasin I have ever seen in Louisiana. My friend saw it first and said freeze and I instantly knew why then looked down at this massive snake. It was not coiled and had just killed some kind of amphibious animal and was probably preparing to eat it. I clearly saw two fang marks on the head of whatever animal it was. There are some odd animals in the water in Louisiana.
Amen to that. In 2010 I was bitten by a Western Diamondback and received 8 units of anti-venom. Worst pain I have ever experienced, threw up blood twice (coffee ground emesis), was hospitalized for four days and couldn’t walk without great pain for a week or more. So yes, the stuff can keep you alive but doesn’t make it a harmless or painless experience.
We dont have poisonous snake. They are venomous. 2 different things…..
No snake is poisonous. You can eat any of them!
In Virginia, some of the cottonmouths have sprouted wings and will fly into your boat or catch you walking in the woods to ambush you. They go right for your neck. Please get your facts straight.
Here in Texas they also hold elected office. Talk about scary!
Lol…. Washington DC is full of them!
HAHAHAHA! Maybe we ought to capture the one’s in DC and extract THEIR venom. Hehehe!
made me giggle!
I would have to say your response was over the top. You could could have got point across without being rude and ignorant as my brother would say
My father was beaten up point by a snake and my mother was robbed at gun point. Don’t underestimate the snake culture.
Cotton mouths will drop out of trees very often on hard ground or water they will drop right in your boat I’ve witnessed it more that 60 times
And most of the “cottonmouths” you saw drop into boats were probably harmless water snakes and non venomous.
I’ve had moccasins drop off tree limbs on three different occasions along the Savannah River. Once it landed in the boat – exciting. The other times it landed in the water – yeah. All three times we were “drift fishing” and bumped into the tree. We always took a 22 with us fishing. This was 1956 – 1960 time frame.
I am only going to probably read this just once, so I dont want to hear the wrong thing for my first and probably only time reading this before i make plans to go live in the woods as my retirement plan so I only want to hear the right thing just once because a mis spoken in correct thing could stick in my head and cost me if i get it wrong… so im glad to know you know what you personally know what your’e talking about from being a herptologist as a living…Thank You Greatly… Wendy
Wendi, you don’t need to fear snakes and you definitely don’t need to listen to all these wives tales and folklore about snakes. Do some research and learn true facts about them and then respect them. Facebook has some good snake identification and information pages that can help. There are plenty of people on those pages willing to give you good info. Snakes are awesome!
snakes around indiana are the cottinmouth and ect if you dont mess with them they dont mess with you
Thank you for speaking the truth.
I have cottonmouths to drop from trees trees into the water beside the boat and they will try to get into the boat with you. You are the one who needs to do your homework. I fear the cottonmouth most of all because they are aggressive. The copperhead will try to hold their ground, but a rattler will try to get away unless they are guarding a kill.I live in NE Ark and have killed one coral snake when I was in the sixth grade in 1956 we decided it must have come here on a truck or something, because they cannot stand the cold in winter.
In a field test of these famous anecdotes, Whit Gibbons and Mike Dorcas molested 45 wild cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) in South Carolina swamps and found that only 2 in 5 bit their fake hand when picked up, only 1 in 10 bit a fake foot when it stepped on them, and none bit a false leg that stood beside them. In a similar test, Xav Glaudas and colleagues picked up over 335 pigmy rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius) in Florida and found that only 8% bit the thick glove they were wearing.
Why would you consider this a valid test when these are pit vipers and know the item is not alive?
Exactly; Heat signature?
Because it was fake u idiot
Amen brother! I’m a herpetologist as well and been hands on with snakes over 35 years , the teachings of these animals these days are REDICULOUS.. lack of hands on experience,, but a cottonmouth will hang from a branch over the water to catch fish and frogs , this I have seen personally,, so watching overhead at night on a river is a good idea while fishing in a boat .. and cottonmouths will come after you if you get on their terf.. youth won’t but adults will .. this i have seen several times as well .. they are very private snakes and know they rule the water and river lands .. mine are pretty calm , but there are a few that pick up mommas attitude lol..
Breeder: do you capture the snakes yourself? If not then you shouldn’t offer blanket statements attesting to the behavioral characteristics of any animal. The activities of animals in a lab setting is not the same as in the wild.
I was recently bitten by a scorpion or spider resulting in immediate swelling and two days later the internal bleeding left bruised looking skin from just below my hip to beyond my knee. It has been two weeks since the bite and although the bruising has subsided, the swelling has stayed almost the same, any idea of what could cause such a reaction?
It would be inefficient for a snake to actively “hunt” a creature it cannot eat. Venomous snakes only bite humans in defense. It is extremely unlikely that any snake would purposely hide in trees and drop down just to scare or bite someone. This would be a waste of both energy and venom for them. Granted some individuals might tend to be more cantankerous than others, but none of them are actively “out to get you.”
It’s ok to admit that snakes freak you out, but please don’t exaggerate the threat they pose to you. Kinda sounds like you’re trying to justify an irrational phobia here.
I’m a herpetologist and been hands on with snakes over 35 years , the teachings of these animals these days are REDICULOUS.. lack of hands on experience,, but a cottonmouth will hang from a branch over the water to catch fish and frogs , this I have seen personally,, so watching overhead at night on a river is a good idea while fishing in a boat .. and cottonmouths will come after you if you get on their terf.. youth won’t but adults will .. this i have seen several times as well .. they are very private snakes and know they rule the water and river lands .. mine are pretty calm , but there are a few that pick up mommas attitude lol.. also captive and wild change anything..
I have seen all of these snakes, but the one I fear most is not on this list. The Green Mojave should be on this list and also one of the most misidentified snakes. It looks a lot like a Western Diamondback, but is way more aggressive and their territorial. A Western Diamondback warns you when you pass, but a Mojave is different and is the second most poisonous snake in The US. The Coral snakes are the most venomous snakes in the US.
No snakes are poisonous. They are all venomous.
They’re not ALL venomous.
Pick nits much?
Thank you ! Lol a correction I make frequently
I’ve not seen any of the water moccasins, yet. Eastern Diamondback, however, I spotted while biking along the road and I steered clear (Saw the sake from a safe distance..)
I’ve seen 3 coral snakes, 2 were dead, one of the two dead was a new-born. One, however, was alive and in my garden! It didn’t seem to care about my presence, and I turned the water off (it was right under the spigot). But I didn’t stick around to say hi!
My dog got bit by a coral snake
Hah! Snakes manage to kill about maybe 4 to 5 people in the US every year (often during a so-called “religious” service), while dogs kill about 30 to 40 people (mostly very young or very old). Get a grip! I live on a Florida lake and have encountered all kinds of poisonous snakes, as well as gators, but I’m way more afraid of my neighbor’s dogs. Most communities have laws controlling dogs (never snakes, how could you?), but dogs still kill way more people. Cottonmouth’s, especially, have a bad reputation as being aggressive. Not true. Snakes generally want less to do with you than you want with them. We all have many snakes in our yards and mostly nobody even knows it. They leave us alone. Dogs are another matter. It troubles me that no one is punished for killing ANY kind of snake, but If you kill an aggressive dog, you will be treated as a pariah. Your snake-bite kit is useless to me and 99% of people (except for the ones who actually imagine they might be bit by a snake minding its own business while they’re agitating it). Show me a product that makes dogs leave me alone instead of me having to shoot them and I’ll buy it.
That is bullshit and a myth water moccasins do not chase you … i catch them all the time first off they live in dens and usually are startled by a person and are trying to get to saftey and you r I the way …. no snake wills chase you In the united states …people like you give snakes a bad rep… I don’t hear you talking about howll snakes stop 33 deadly diseases from spreading from kid rodents…. I howll rattlesnake venomous I an ingredient in curing cancers… I’m a herpetoligist so no need to argue with ignorant people who r just scared of a snake that I more scared of you .. you might want to just stay clear of venomous snakes caught you clearly know nothing about them … by the wat a coral snake has to chew I you to inject venom they are rear fang and you r lucky to just run across one I’ve searched for hrs to find them and rarely come across them…
I have been personally chased by a northern water snake in Ohio.
Bud cottonmouth snakes are different everywhere.. I agree that they are pretty dossil , but 30% of an adult cottonmouth populated area will attack you .. I have seen it several times .. fishing 100 feet away from a den and they come out and at you like wtf ! They have no fear , but the rest will stay hidden and avoid you alll together.. but the reason behind the stories is because these people have ran into those that will attack you ..
You’re a herpatologist?? I find that funny because howll isn’t a word..don’t herpatologist have to go to college??
Worked on mining claim in AZ. Multiple close contacts with the Western Diamond Back on a daily basis. Most just want to slip away. Some will chase you. BUT the Mojave Rattlesnake take great caution for its neurotoxin and they can be feisty as I have learned through experience.
I agree about the Mojave being much more dangerous than a diamond back. Generally, unless you surprise a sleeping Diamond back, he will rattle as soon as he senses you in the area. Most Mojave that I have encountered don’t give any warning, and will not try to get away from you.
When on the desert, a good rule of thumb is to stay away from the shady side of vegetation or rocks on a hot day, and away from the sunny side on a cool day, and never pick up a “dead” snake that you have shot in the head by the tail. If there is one fang left, he will whip around and get you with it. If you want the hide, or if you are one of those that like to eat rattlers, always step on the head, and cut it off before you pick it up. I’ve spent a lot of years on the Sonoran desert, and never came close to being bitten. On the other hand, while I have hunted rattlers, I have never had any desire to handle live poisonous snakes, and have a healthy respect respect for the danger they pose. I also never step where I can’t see. and never reach where I can’t check for snakes first. Also if you are walking a sandy wash, keep an eye out for a swirl in the sand. Side winders like to bury themselves in soft sand, and will strike if you step close to them, or on them. And most important, always wear snake proof boots that come almost, or to your knees. I have had people say they are too hot. If you can’t take some heat, you are in the wrong place anyway. When you are miles from your closest medical help, and especially if you have walked in to back country, the last thing you need is a poisonous snake bite.
Rattlesnakes don’t have neurotoxins. Their bite affects the circulatory system.
The Mojave rattlesnake does have neurotoxin. It is the only rattlesnake that does. That’s one of the reasons this particular rattler is so dangerous
the Mojave have both neurotoxin and hemotoxin. It’s complicated. Lol
actually there are quite a few rattlesnake species that have both neurotoxic and hemotoxic venom.
It’s articles like this that make me glad to live in the frozen north.
I agree with you about the frozen north
The water moccasin is territorial, and will chase you totally out of his area.
The pygmy rattler deserves mention alongside the others since it’s venom is as deadly or even more so than the larger cousins.
There has never been a fatality from a pygmy rattlesnake bite. I breed them and have been bitten also. They are painful bites but nowhere near their larger cousins
Water moccasin snakes do not chase, they hold their ground and gape at you. I wouldn’t advise it but you could walk right up to one and it will gape until you go away. And even if you ran away and came back it will either stay there gaping or run away.
Moccasins do chase I’ve seen them chase people up onto the porch and so on
For those of you nerds that breed snakes and think you know all about them stop blowin smoke
Go live with them in their environment
Fkn snake fan boys are creepy
Water moccasins will chase you! There is a place my dad and I used to go fishing and they would get very aggressive. We would move to a different spot on the rocks and they would come after us. They will also fall out of trees into your boat and approach your boat. I don’t care who says they don’t chase, you’re full of crap.
I have been chased by several moccasins. I was in a boat and they were defending their territory.
I lived in Florida for over 50 years and yes moccasins will chase you if they feel threatened, and they will come up while you’re fishing to try and get your fish off a line. And as far as for the jumping in boats if they’re in the tree and you approach In a boat they may be trying to get to the water and the boat is just in the way.
Ummm . I got chased today by one he had hidden under my mower .
Snakes that are born and grow in the wild are different than the ones that are raised by snake breeders. Even wild ones will behave differently if placed in captivity. So…
Don’t say that Moccasins won’t chase people. Oh, yes, they will! I have been chased along a dirt road near a canal (called “Snake Creek”, btw) – by two of them. One stayed on my right side and the other behind, until it caught up with me and got ahead. Then it stopped “running”. The one on the side had been edging closer and closer to me, as if to push me into the brush by the side of the dirt road. I suddenly turned back and they both crawled into the canal.
This is no joke. I have even seen a woodchuck 4 feet up a bushy tree, sitting on a limb. Animals do what they want to do, or can do. They do not read the encyclopedia to get briefed on how to behave.
Snakes in the wild are freakin’ dangerous. Period.
cottonmouth snakes are different everywhere.. I agree that they are pretty dossil , but 30% of an adult cottonmouth populated area will attack you .. I have seen it several times .. fishing 100 feet away from a den and they come out and at you like wtf ! They have no fear , but the rest will stay hidden and avoid you alll together.. but the reason behind the stories is because these people have ran into those that will attack you ..
They won’t chase you down I live in the swamp of fla
Complete BS. There are no recorded deaths in the US from Pygmy rattlesnake bites. My son was bitten a couple of years ago. Another ridiculous thing (lie) that people spread about snakes just to drive the fear.
Some exaggeration here. 7,000-8,000 bites per year in U.S. Average number of deaths? 5 per year. Of those 5, most are from people who handle these snakes.
The human body reacts well to counteract the injection of venom. The tissue around the bite will swell to “trap” most of the venom, slowing the amount entering the bloodstream. Panic reaction by victim will often cause more to enter bloodstream. Remain calm, do not attempt to use suction to remove venom ( that actually forces more into bloodstream ) Seek immediate medical attention. Most paramedics now carry anti-venom in ambulance.
Anti-venom is very effective.
What you can get is VERY sick. If you are over sensitive or receive large amount of venom.
Given an avenue of escape, rattlesnakes, coral snakes, and copperheads will avoid you. Wear high top boots, be aware, be calm and slow during an encounter. None of this works with cottonmouth. They are your worst nightmare. The mother-in-law of snakes. They will cross an 8 lane freeway, during rush hour, just to bite you in the butt.
Well written and researched article Ken. Great job from many comments as well. Additional facts:
Venomous snakes (adults) can control how much venom they inject. 2/3rds of bites are dry bites where no venom is injected. Juveniles cannot control their venom sacks fully, they will inject the whole load in a bite. You will get less volume of venom, but you will get it. Current bite states are over 12,000 human bites from venomous snakes a year (estimated as most folks misidentify snakes.) Less than a dozen die from the bites and most of those are due to special circumstances not the bite itself! So JPD’s entire posting is likely far more accurate. Who is bitten far more than anyone else? Men, in their 20s, had been drinking, and were purposely handling the snake or trying to kill it. Also, there is zero need to identify or kill the snake in order for the doctor to treat you these days except in the case of a coral snake. Antivenin is made of a cocktail of different US snakes and will work on all bites save for the coral snake. Most deaths are due to unusual sensitivity to the venom, allergic reaction to the antivenin, and related to alcohol being in the victim’s system.
There are over 100 species of coral snakes in the New World so the poem only works in the US. No worries though, these snakes are rear fanged, rare, and quite docile. They cannot bite through good shoes or gloves. Most people are bit on the hand messing with them or have injured them by stepping on them in open shoes or reaching ungloved hands towards them (gardening and such.)
Rattlesnakes, there are over 30 species. The type and strength of what makes up the venom varies from species to species and even individuals within the species. Most commonly encountered are Timbers in the east, Praries in the plains states, and Diamondbacks in the SW. Most of rattlesnake venom is made up of something called a hemotoxin this is the stuff that digests tissue (nearly all venom from Copperheads and Cottonmouths are made up of this.) Cutting, using ice, pressure bandages, ect will only concentrate the venom and cause tissue damage. MANY studies done on extraction devices (suction) they make things worse by busting open capillaries around the site and introduce more venom in the blood stream. Leave it alone, stay calm, and get to a doctor. There are some that have a much higher concentration of neurotoxin than other species. That includes the Mojave and tiger. Neurotoxin is what affects your breathing and heart. This is the stuff found in elapids like cobras, taipans, and kraits (Old world.)
Cottonmouths have not been found outside the map posted above. Why do so many folks contest this? There is another snake known as a Northern Water Snake. They are mimics of the cottonmouth (water moccasin) look exactly like and act like cottonmouths. The only way a herpetologist can tell the difference is the number of scales on their head, number of scales next to their cloaca, shape of the pupil, and how high their body sits on the water when swimming. (All snakes can swim.) The common name for this snake, water moccasin. The confusion dates back from the days long before telephones, cameras, and the internet where word of mouth and stories of travelers spread information. The information sticks in the local culture. More evidence that Cottonmouths physically cannot live farther north done by a study from University of Arkansas proves that the snakes become infertile due to colder temperatures found north of their range. Published in Copeia 2003 http://preview.tinyurl.com/mv4tfbq
Cottonmouths use a defense known as “flashing” in order to scare predators (snake eating wading birds and YOU) away. They have a startling color in order to surprise the predator thus giving the snake opportunity to escape. That is the white color in their mouth. They quickly move toward the predator displaying the inside of the mouth. ( For some reason it works much better against natural predators than humans.) Fun fact. Black mambas are not black, the insides of their mouth are.
To summarize. Leave all snakes alone as the vast majority of snakes have the same colorings as venomous snakes (camo!) unless they are albino or hypermelanistic (all black) patternless ect. Many snakes will vibrate their tail when frightened, and when it hits the leaves it sounds like a rattlesnake.
If you have snakes near your home it is because you have a food source nearby. (are you feeding your pets outside? Have bird feeders? Keep wood piles and junk far away from your house. Leave snakes alone, snakes are one of the only predators that can follow rodents into their holes. Rodents kill far more people than snakes do (disease.)
– Jennifer Pennington
Snakes don’t read your range maps. Scientists said the same about Great white sharks, and you where wrong about that to.Cotton mouths are aggressive and do give chase. You don’t need a degree or someone with one to tell you so. Spend enough time around with them in the wild and find out the same way we did.
I’ve always heard moccasins are aggressive, literature I’ve read says quote” the cottonmouth has a bad disposition, and is dangerously venomous ,Avoid it!!” That’s what I go by. Yeah I think they would come after you at times..
You forgot pits on side of face, large broad heads, tail ending bluntly instead of sharp ( non poisonous) scales on stomach going crossways all the way down, catlike pupils, they have two small dots on top of head..
JPD, Where is the exaggeration?
Part of the reason that deaths from snake bite are not worse than they are, is partly due to education of the public about what to watch out for, and to identify the venomous from the harmless. It helps that most people are afraid of snakes too.
All sea snakes are poisonous.
Some are curious and may come around for a look at you when scuba diving or snorkeling. Don’t panic they will leave you alone.
Be careful if you go to India. More than one million Indians get snake bit per year with 50,000 deaths.
Be careful with your animals when in the bush. In Australia farmers and bushwalkers lose a fair percentage of their dogs top snakes.
Lots of things in Australia to put you in a hurt
My son likes to go rock /mountain climbing when not on the road to relax ( western U.S. ), has started carrying a .22 with bird shot /snake shot shells for those times when meeting something un-expected. Although he has been talking about maybe using / carrying a .38 / .357 instead. To hear him tell it, he has had un-expected meetings with some of the local residents ( snakes ). P.S. I don’t mind the guarder ( spelling ?? )snake and the bull snake, but that is it.
You might suggest that he carry a .22 rifle. Self aiming as the snake will orient on the working end of the barrel. I’ve had snakes strike at the fired round. Only once per snake…
That was well put… ?
I suggest your son go straight to the 38 with bird shot. We have snakes here and my wife used to carry a 22. The 22 is to small for a big aggressive snake. The 38 has taken multiple shots to bring a 6 footer to a stop before.
My preference is a 45 long colt with bird shot.
It’s 29 inches long and only 3 pounds. It will shoot all 410 ammo.
Get you a “Judge” by Taurus! Shoots .45 long Colt or .410 shotgun shells. 3″ barrel will do it.
In NA… the rule is- if the snakes head is the shape of your thumb it is non-poisonous.
If the snakes head is flat and triangular then it is poisonous…. run!
Except some water snakes while the do has a anticoagulant it won’t kill you
The basic rule of thumb if bitten by a snake is to kill it and bring it with you to the hospital. This way they can see and know exactly what they are dealing with.
Typically a snake bite could prove fatal if not properly treated in one hour. Due to the fact that there are only 7 seven “not 4”, different venomous snakes in North America:
The sidewinder ( family to the rattler)and found mainly in the west.
Eastern Diamond Back in the east.
Cotton Mouth because its mouth is white and Copper head for its color are found in the south and even reported past Ohio.
The timbrel rattler, a small cousin to the diamondback and last but not least is the Coral Snake.
Um, actually identifying the snake is a hell of a lot smarter than spending much energy killing it. The more energy you spend, the more the venom spreads.
actually there are 8…
…in North America…
…one of my ex girlfriends
needs to be included.
she is more poisonous than all the
rest of them put together.
and ye need to not just run…but hide.
Maybe you brought out the best/worst in her?
could be…could be…
but i ran away before getting bit…
…others…not so lucky.
dude…. he obvious grouped the rattlers together by stating there were several types. that includes the side winder and every other mentioned snake you went over.
now i have no idea if this is true, but someone once told me that the worm snake has venom but is incapable of biting humans to deliver it…. this i cant confirm
Do not try to catch the snake and take it to the hospital. The CroFab antivenin will treat all US venomous snakebites except the coral snake. You will generally know if it was a coral snake as it looks much different from the others. Even a dead snake, even a snake head detached from the snake body, can still bite for up to three days due to muscle spasms. Also, it can bite through clothing or a plastic bag. A dead snake needs to be contained in something it cannot bite through.
I learned what I know about snakes AFTER I was bitten by a Copperhead. Copperheads are aggressive and will stand their ground and strike again if given a chance. The one that bit me was warming itself under the warmth of the floodlights on the top step that leads into our house. I opened the door to come out and startled it and it bit me right through my jeans and sock and was still able to envenomate me enough to cause immediate, excruciating pain, like I had been shot through the leg with a flaming arrow. The snake recoiled and assumed a strike position again. Even almost incapacitated I was able to kill it with a large cleaver. The front half of the snake slithered about 10 feet before it stopped writhing.
The best information on treatment for snakebites can be found at the below website and in the protocol and book written by Jon Soskis. After receiving about the worst care possible at our local medical center, I facilitated having Mr. Soskis brought in to lecture all the doctors, nurses, and EMTS in our county at a conference at said hospital. http://www.snakebitecare.com
I was taking wood out of the pile last year, lifted the tarp, checked as usual, no snake. Took a couple pieces off and brushed against something really soft and smooth. There was a nice copper head staring at me. I think he was still sleeping when I brushed him, because he didn’t strike (thank goodness). He met his demise anyway. Way too close to the house. He is now a nice hat band :)
Its getting that time here in northern AZ. Good indicator is if the lizards are out and about , so are the snakes. Both being cold blooded.
And….. rattlesnakes are well camoflaged, looking EXACTLY like the terrain they inhabit. Stay on defined trails if at all possible.
great to live in a place that is snake free and illegal to own
Hawaii is snake free ! I love that
True, but I’ve encountered scorpions in Kihei, twice on the same property. Clearly introduced by way of cargo, and a surreal shocker…
i’ve seen scorpions there, and black widows too (also introduced probably on a cargo ship).
Does Hawaii not have water snakes?
A couple of small corrections. The copperhead is found in the peninsula region of Florida – south of Tampa Bay. I live in this area and have literally seen on on my front sidewalk. In addition, coming originally from Kansas, I can also state honestly that the Cottonmouth can be found along the rivers and stream/watershed areas of the eastern part of the state.
As a young child growing up in northeast Oklahoma, I can verify that there are an abundant number of cottonmouth snakes. Of course, the family always referred to them as water moccasins. Swimming at the lake during the summer months, grandma would keep watch on the bank as we played in the shallows. Spotting a snake, grandma would call out for us to clear the water. Shortly thereafter, a water moccasin would meander by. Once the snake had cleared the area, it was back in the water for more summer fun. It was quite an experience in an era gone by. Today, we live in a totally different world. Nonetheless, it pays to be vigilant when in snake country.
Water moccasin swimming in water. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oO8pyZ5CvRc
When in Arizona we had the Mohave Green-rumored to be more poisonous than the local rattlers.
Here is a good page on Rattlesnakes for the state of Arizona.
“Red and black poison lack”? Oh, how about, “Red and black – still going to give a shovel whack!”
I would like to add a subspecies of the Western rattlesnake to this discussion. While all the snakes mentioned in the article are no joke the Mojave Green rattlesnake is the most toxic in North America. Fortunately, it’s geographic distribution is small. It’s range extends from north west Arizona to the south eastern deserts of California and southern Nevada to south western Utah. Generally, if you are in the Great Basin region then you are in its territory. It carries two toxins one that attacks the nervous system while the other toxin attacks all protein structures. It is very active in the spring and especially frisky at night during the summer months. Don’t count on its use of its rattle.
I wonder why the Tiger Rattler hasn’t been mentioned?!? My husband has been in Quartsite AZ many times and these snakes are EVERYWHERE!
So here is what I’ve found on the tiger rattler….
Although tiger rattlesnakes are reluctant to strike, they are highly venomous, cantankerous and as a result pose a potential threat to humans. Their venom contains a neurotoxin called Mojave toxin and a myotoxin known to cause muscle necrosis. Although venom production is low compared to other rattlesnakes, their venom is the most toxic of any snake in the Western Hemisphere. The combination of neuro- and mytoxins in their venom makes them extremely dangerous to humans.
(Copied from Wikipedia)
He actually had one striking at him as he was walking past, he never did a thing to it to instigate it and it wasn’t even rattling. He must have accidentally startled it as he walked past it, but he was lucky he saw it coming at him out of the corner of his eye…. But If any rattler IS rattling, You don’t move slow… You RUN in the opposite direction!,
my parents moved into a new subdivision in lubbock texas. fathers day they found a large, 5 foot at least, what i say from the pics is a bull snake. I live in beautiful idaho and all we have is rattlers. animal control over the phone told my dad from the description of said anake it was probably a hybrid as deadly as rattle snakes. are there such snakes in usa?
I’ve never heard of one. Bull snakes do behave like rattle snakes. Coiling when threatened, with no rattle. Bear in mind that many rattle snakes don’t rattle either. From what I know, bull snakes view rattle snakes as ‘lunch’.
The only 2 known hybrid species that will interbreed are the fox snake and the gopher snake, both non-venomous. There may be an occasional hybrid in the wild but they would be incredibly rare and would generally not be able to produce viable offspring.
The map for the cotton mouth is very incomplete. Having grown up in eastern Tennessee, north Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina, I can guarantee with certainty that I have encountered and dealt with them in all of those states.
I would agree with Cotton Mouth’s July 7th remark that the map showing the range of the water moccasin is incomplete.
Growing up in southern West Virginia, I frequently visited Summers County. On occasion, the water moccasin might be observed along the Greenbrier & the New River.
The climate there has become cooler in recent years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the species had fled that habitat, but I would be no less wary of it if hiking thereabouts.
I had an older friend who told me about backing out of his driveway in Austin, Texas and having a Copperhead fall drop out of the tree above him onto his windshield. He was driving a convertible. He was able to dump it with his car movement. Beware of these guys. I’ve killed them in flowerbeds against my house three times. I also found one, with a younger snake, coming into my yard searching for water during hot summer nights with the lawn sprinklers going. They smelled it and were cruising past me (spotlight in their face).. headed to the sprinkler.
Also, watch your screen door/main door space. Friends had found a Rattler there before. Rattlers will give chase. My Dad killed one which had risen above the weed height, threatening him as it rattled. He shot it before it caught him or his dog. He was amazed at it’s aggression.
Rattlers get large and are very strong.
The city isn’t a buffer. I live in Austin and neighbors have found Copperheads in their yards before. Light up your yards and patios folks.
when rivers flood the cotten mouth is very aggressive…………billk
Many species of rattlesnakes are above in USA like Western DiamondBack, NortherPaCIFIC, gRAN cANYON, Timber rattlesnakes…
What about also some species in South America like Fer de Lance ( all species) and some kind of Tree pit viper
I think one of the most dangerous specie is problably Cascavel Rattler
ive been working in a underground mine for about two years now. my job simply is to reorganize and transport material underground, so I am at the surface for a long periods of time around piles of junk. a nearby surface operation has stirred up a local rattle snake population and they are moving to our site in hordes. so as a precaution, the site managers decided to hire a snake expert to train us all in the proper approach to rattle snakes. he told us that most rattle snakes need to be fully extended to deliver venom which is why they lunge into a spear like attack. so I gathered this much, its easier to jump over them than to turn and run if you are really close. and if you get nipped from a small distance chances are you didn’t get the venom (im still skeptical). I have no idea if this is true but I thought I would share the story.
Water Moccasins and Cotton Mouth are 2 different snakes and I can prove it. I live in Oklahoma and have caught them all my life. Different shapes and different colors and different sizes.
Anonymous: I think you need to know that you are not the only one that has dealt with cottonmouths. Get out of your test facility and get outside in the real world. Experience these snakes in their own environments. You don’t live in OK and I verify that what Bud said is correct because I live there too. So DON”T tell people the are wrong when you don’t know what the F- – – you are talking about.
Cottonmouths and Watermoccasins are both Agkistrodon Piscivorus. There is a water snake that is commonly mis- identified as a cottonmouth. It is agressive, but non-venomous.
I live in OKlahoma . I agree. The water snake resembling the cotton mouth were called water moccasins. They are aggressive too and will bite. They look so much like the cottonmouth . I have had my pants hit by a strike before. I didn’t wait to see which kind it was. There are a lot of rattlers and cottonmouths in Southern OKla. A neighbor got bit 5 times when he was shutting up his chickens in the dark. He lived but had poor health after that. We killed a rattlesnake on the school bus once. Another neighbor got bit when hanging out her clothes. I remember a guy fishing getting bit by a cottonmouth one night
and he asked my Daddy what kind of snake it was. They had cut the snakes head and about a foot more of it. I remember it so well. I was nine and Im about to turn 70. Quite traumatic.
Lived in Lewisville Texas on 5 acres, husband reaching to turn water faucet on was dry struck didnt know what it was, reached again to turn water on and copperhead struck on index finger. He was in hospital 4 days, no antivenum but had surgery and lost end of finger and feeling in entire finger. We later were very vigilant and found and killed 8 more copperheads. You can’t see the snake unless it moves, it completely blends in.
I am interested in historic accounts of copperheads in SW Iowa. Does any know of any? They are found in the very SE of Iowa (Van Buren and previously Lee Co) Right now I am investigating a copperhead snake bite death in Van Buren County in 1846. They are found just south of Iowa in Northern MO, but I have yet to find solid evidence. I would appreciate any leads (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Some of you may be interested in the 82 rattlesnake fatalisties I have found in Iowa. http://homepages.dordt.edu/~mahaffy/rattle/Iowa_rattler_deaths_03.htm
Out for an evening walk,just before dark, about
20 feet in front of me, I see a snake on the sidewalk.
It looks small, maybe 16-17 inches and as I get closer,
it veers off the path, on to a patch of grass. I take a
closer look, thinking its harmless but instead I see a slowly moving “RED TOUCHING YELLOW” snake about the width of a
sharpie. I remembered the phase and didn’t get any closer than 5 feet. It looked non threatening and eventually disappeared in some thick brush. Very surprising to see a snake like that in a very residential area. I’ve lived in South Florida for 14 years and this only the 4 or 5 time I’ve seen a snake in the wild and those were black racers or king snakes.
Most of you are wrong I use to milk extract the venom from water moccasins for a lab to make anti venom they will crawl toward you if teased but mostly will flash the white interior of their mouth.if startled will swim into water quickly.I was bitten by a juvenile little swelling.I do not kill snakes Even if bitten.also sellersburg Indiana pond was full of water moccasins not easily confused with water snakes stripe down cheek, elliptical pupils spade shaped head thick chocolate or blackish body color.also in sellersburg copperheads,timber rattlers.my worse bite was from a rattlesnake also bit by black widow spider very I’ll doubled over its cramps but passed fairly quickly.copperhead hurts like being hit with a hammer.most dangerous probably brown recluse spider.open ulcer that can go all the way to the Bone.venom was developed by snakes to help digest prey, keep a rat from killing the snake an cut down energy hunting for bitten prey.I’ll take snakes over bubonic plague or rabid bats any day.rabies unlike snake bite is always fatal.sincerely we are all gods creatures.
My boy was 6 and playing around the lawn mower. He got bit by a cottonmouth. … RAN him to hospital! Thank God it was a dry bite. Thats what I suspect your was, a fortunate dry bite. I respect snakes. But I will not hesitate to take the head off of any snake in MY territory! As far as fiddlebacks, also known as brown recluse spiders. We had an infestation while living on the TX. LA border. I was bitten twice, once on the hip,(I have a scar that mimics a gun shot). And once on the hip bone,(a scar that mimics a knife wound) Ive come up with good war stories with these scars.Lol. Fiddlebacks if not found and killed -will keep coming back to bite the same victim. My boy was bit on the elbow-(small scar), My daughter in the knee-(big scar). We went and got the bites lanced and packed by the hospital. My neighbors dad had gotten bit on the elbow, but wouldnt go to hospital until 13 days later, when it had swole up like a tennis ball! He was a healthy man but it caused his kidneys to fail and he died.That same year, a little black girl in the next town had gotten bit on her head. But her mama didn’t take her in- because she had paid to get the little girls hair braided a few days before the spider bit her….Her little girl died. She was 7 yrs old. Really sad.
has anyone ever seen a hoop snake? i was 4 years old, mom, uncle,and sister saw one coming off hill toward us. got just few yards away, it crawled off in grass. never seen one since. that was 66 years ago.
Spot on! I’ve never had a run in with a more aggressive snake than the cottonmouth, one chased me home almost a mile, I looked into my car window the next day just to find it in my backseat waiting to ambush me.
Two questions. A guy in my platoon killed a large rattler on Camp Pendleton once and the darn thing was pinkish in coloration, Everyone who saw it had something to say about a pink rattler and noone had ever seen one that particular color. How rare is this? Second ?. At a certain time of the year if you walked up just the right nondescript hill it would seem to be just lousy with rattle snakes. This after walking up and down hill after hill and not seeing one all day. Is this some kind of a fluke or do they gather for mating? I would be interested if someone else has run into kind of thing(s).
In answer to whether snakes will gather to mate, when a female is ready, males that cross trails can detect the pheromones left behind and follow, so yes, you might find several who have followed the trail.
As for not seeing a snake all day, then see numerous at one time, probably is because, during the heat of the day, cold blooded creatures tend to stay hidden from the sun (under rocks,in holes, etc.), only to come out as the evening sun retreats and it becomes cooler. After the sun goes down, as the ambient temperature drops, they will gravitate to large rocks that retain heat longer.
Sounds like you found a Crotalus ruber….rare enough that you shouldn’t kill it, and nasty venom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crotalus_ruber
Rattlesnakes can also take on the coloration of the dominate back ground colors.
I have seen both very green and red Rattlesnakes. Green in Texas in the Guadalupe Mountains, and in the Davis Mountains. This could also be the effect of good rains, resulting in more green plants. The Red Rattlesnake was seen in NW New Mexico near an old mining operation where the soil and surrounding rocks were all tinted red, I also found a red Horny Toad.
What about the massasauga rattlesnake? This poisonous pit viper is native to southern Michigan area. Kinda bummed our snake didn’t make the list.
Southern Ontario has the massasauga rattler. The hog nosed snake and the black massasauga are identical. Because of this the hog nose is on then endangered species list. I agree with being in northern parts of the continent. Just reading about these snakes you have in the US of A gives shivers.
Is there anything you can use to keep snakes off your property such as mothballs or Lyme. I’ve heard of this but just don’t know if it works. We are moving next to the River and I’m concerned about the cotton mouths.
Keep your grass cut short and keep all ground clutter to a minimum. Don’t put out feeders that will attract rodents or frogs. Always lift objects left laying around with a hoe or stick. They do sell ground vibrators that are solar powered, not sure how effective they are.
The maps are off cotton mouths or mockesons r found in marland and rattle snakes are found far as ny
The Yellow-bellied Sea Snake is a poisonous snake in California and Hawaii as well.
oh my god so scary snakes but my ASSIGNMENT is finish!! yahoo!! thx this site is nice. ;)
I’ve been chased numerous times by cottonmouths, on land and in the water! They also have a distinct smell that is hard to not notice if one is close by.
Just had an encounter in Indy with a cottonmouth. Moved a light boat on the edge of a pond and it was beneath the bow. Fortunately, I noticed motion and retreated a bit, but that snake wasn’t going to give an inch of ground while it’s mouth was agape. Black stripes on a light green base with an ivory inner lining in mouth. There here in Indy.
They’re here in Indy
When I was 10 (42 years ago) I went fishing with my Grandfather in Texas. A cottonmouth was in a tree and Grandpa threw a rock at it. It fell to the ground and chased him but grandpa got away.
I have lived in Louisiana most of my life until I join the military. I have caught many snakes ranging from western & eastern diamondbacks, cottonmouths, canebrake, coral, copperheads, pigmy and more venomous & nonvenomous snakes. I’ve taken a few bites & wouldn’t ever want to again. Although I was lucky, I still had an interest in these snakes. I’m intimately familiar with the cottonmouth. I’ve seen many things from them falling out of brush over the water into boats, on land & in the water. These bad boys will always stand their ground. Hell I’ve even seen them get territorial attack without being provoked. Words of advice if you see a snake don’t mess with it. Let it be in peace of call the proper ppl to remove it. They’re not preying on us but the rodents that do.
Wrong Wrong Wrong, Moccasin’s will not chase you nor will they fall from tree’s just to kill an animal, Those are uneducated folk tails. Venom is to precious to waste in any snake. That is why most snake bites are not fatal. The snake does not want to waste its venom on something it can not eat.
So your telling me . the cottonmouth that chased me today is a folk tail? Lmao.
You are incorrect. I had a water moccasin chase me out of a pond when I was a teenager. Even after I was out of the water it kept coming after me. My cousin and I killed it when it got close to the bank we were on.
I’d like to put a different spin on this if I may. The “non-poisonous” Garter Snake will bite if agitated and although non-poisonous, its mouth has so much bacteria that the bite can make you sick.
You left out the Prairie Rattler, which is the one that lives in all of Montana and Idaho.They don’t grow so big but have a cranky attitude and can come in a wide range of colors. I’ve seen them on May 1st, just emerging from hibernation. coiled up a few feet away from a snow bank at 4500 ft and encountered them in early October after a night frost, still out hunting. They’ll swim a river or lake and come right in to your home if you leave the door open.
Yesterday, while weed eating my pond; my dog starting jumping around and barking. I put my gear down and walked over to find an unusual water snake on the dock. It was a dark olive green, thick bodied and with a short stumpy tail. I didn’t have my phone or I would have sent a photo. But it was aggressive; I saw it strike at my dog several times. It never opened it’s mouth; when confronted with a stick, but slid into the water and swam away.
It didn’t look like the Northern water snakes I usually see. I live just North of Kirksville in Adair County, I’ve not heard of Cotton Mouth snakes in this erea.
Any idea what it was???
The Mohave Green Rattler, FYI, is the MEANEST snake I ever come across! Hiking the PCT in NORTHERN CALIFORNIA in 2008, i had one come out the bush at full speed jumping up and striking my trekking pole First! as i stumbled backwards trying to get away from this thing and falling to the ground i was struck in the hand momentarily. Miles from any help, (hiking alone), I performed a small cut on the bite marks and extracted the venom (if there was any actually in the wound) by sucking repeatedly. Had I been bit in a less accessible spot, who knows what would have happened? I suffered with shortness of breath, disorientation, sickness to my stomach and my whole arm was swollen like 2 times its normal size. I could do nothing but set up camp and pray. I managed to hike out some 22 miles a day later to a doctors office where he then admitted me to the hospital. this was almost 48hrs later, no anti venom was introduced because of the time lapse and my condition was improving. I believe my First Aid actions helped me from getting irrecoverably ill. So anyone that thanks “Snakes” are only in “Certain” map areas need to beware! I was north of Mt. Shasta at 5600ft. That Mohave rattler didn’t care about any Map Boundaries! The Green Mohave Snake made the trip to the Doctors with me for positive ID. The Doctor said a bite from a Mojave rattlesnake can produce neurologic effects and I was experiencing them all. I thought my heart was going to stop at any time and my breathing was heavily labored, I don’t know how I survived this nasty bite?
I will add this was the most aggressive snake I ever came across, (I grew up in Florida and YES, I had been chased by Moccasins before), totally unprovoked, this snake attacked me and chased me as I stumbled backwards up the trail some 25ft before it finally bit me! (and I killed it). Anyone that thinks snakes will leave you alone as long as you don’t bother it needs to rethink that position. I say if you even hear a snake, R-U-N-N-O-F-T !!!
i have been bitten by an anaconda
I went fishing in the month of may and was actually chased by a water moccasin snake
When I was a teenager about 30 years ago I had been cutting some tomato plant supports for my father’s garden in a wooded area behind my parents’ home in New Orleans. I put 25 or so in a pile and took a break. I returned to finish cutting when I heard the unmistakable rattle. Not sure what kind, but there was 5-7 foot rattlesnake coiled over the pile. Struck instinctive fear in me and the tomato plant supports are still on the ground there.
The comments are worth more than the article. I agree the maps are wrong especially about the cottonmouths. I grew up in New England and we had copperheads (very low level but killed two in our garage just before I moved – one was hanging from the ceiling – cleared out the yard sale real fast), rattlesnakes and yes cottonmouths/water moccasins. I grew up on a pond so know. We always knew to be careful around ponds and swimming holes esp where there were water weeds plus we had snapping turtles in there with us too. Saw one take a kids thumb off when he accidently pulled it up on his fishing line into the boat. We had a huge one (good 2 ft wide come up in our yard. Several of the dads tried to do it in and did not have an easy time of it. They tried using a broom stick to tip it over and it just snapped that like it was a twig. I think they finally got it with an axe.
Hiking in Vermont on the Canadian border I came across a huge rattler and just backed out slowly. My co-workers kept insisting that Vt did not have rattlers only NH (the state line was about 10 miles away) and I kept saying you know I don’t think he noticed that map line while he was crawling thru the woods.
Hi here, I also grew up in MA (Springfield). Turns out my neighbor had timber rattlers under the foundation of his house (mid 1970’s). This was about 300-400 ft from where we lived. Never saw a timber while growing up, unless what I thought was a water snake as a kid may have been a timber, but I doubt it. There are copperheads and timbers (both very, very rare in MA). But, I’m sorry–the “mocassin” you saw was likely a Northern waster snake (Nerodia). They can be really aggressive, in fact, more so than a cottonmouth: I once accidentally hooked a Northern water snake on a lure in Chapel Hill, NC, and was it P.O.’d! Luckily, it spat the lure out.
By contrast, I saw the largest cottonmouth on the Black River/Duplin County NC. Huge snake–big around as a fat-bike tire and over 5 ft long, but very, very laid back. I almost stepped on a copperhead in Chapel Hill–I was watching deer, and am normally very careful of where I step. Suddenly, I heard a ‘hiss’…looked 2.5 feet in front of me, and there was a copperhead, warning me it was there (which I’m sure glad it did).
I’ve had good luck with snakes: I once managed to get a 5 foot diamondback rattler off the road in Tucson, AZ with a huge branch. Darned thing ended up getting road killed a block away, I think. I have pushed/moved copperheads from the roadways at night, so they don’t get squashed. In NC, the black rat snake has been edging the copperhead out, so they’re becoming rarer. Anyway, snakes (venomous/non-venomous) get a really bad rap, which is unfortunate. Rule of thumb: always watch where you put your hands and your feet. When hiking in pit-viper territory, look over a log before you step over it.
I was hoping to find a place to go stand up paddle boarding around North Carolina this June and July. I’m not familiar with the region and I’m beginning to rethink that plan. Is it relatively safe or a really bad idea to SUP in that state?
You don’t need to fear snakes. Just educate yourself someplace besides threads like this. This is from a research website: “In a field test of these famous anecdotes, Whit Gibbons and Mike Dorcas molested 45 wild cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) in South Carolina swamps and found that only 2 in 5 bit their fake hand when picked up, only 1 in 10 bit a fake foot when it stepped on them, and none bit a false leg that stood beside them. In a similar test, Xav Glaudas and colleagues picked up over 335 pigmy rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius) in Florida and found that only 8% bit the thick glove they were wearing.”
Sup Q, I sure hope you were able to come to NC…lovely place. If you didn’t make it here by the end of this month (July), try August. Hopefully, the heat spate will be somewhat over–its 95 dF and with heat-index, probably up to 105.
Before you go paddle-boarding, get info on the waterways you wish to check out. SE of Raleigh is coastal plain, where you get into cottonmouth territory, but just watch where you go. Also, Cape Fear River (and Neuse) may have a few gators, but again, just watch where you go.
In the Piedmont area (central NC) and in Blue Ridge mtns/Smokies, there are mostly copperheads, and in a few places, timber rattlers. Neither are gonna bother you on rivers, but when hiking near creeks and rocks, watch where you put your hands and feet. There are VERY few moccasins in the Piedmont: one or two were photographed in Eno River St. Park, Durham County and/or Chatham County, but that’s unusual.
Currituck sound. It’s huge and relatively protected. It’s fairly shallow, salt water and protected from the ocean by the Outer Banks (barrier islands).
oops should have added watch out for water moccasins. Not truly a saltwater snake but parts of the sound are brackish and they can be found there.
if you get tangled up with a rattler, just tango
Interestng reading but I would caution readers not to take most of the comments as factual. Venomous snakes are dangerous and should be held in respect but there is no need to fear them. Unprovoked attacks from any of them (meaning they won’t drop out of trees or chase you) are extremely rare. A general rule is “leave them alone and they will leave you alone”. The anti-venom currently used is effective for all North American species except the coral snake (it is not being produced anymore due to the lack of demand (non-existent)). If you are ever bitte, remain calm and get professional medical care as soon as is possible.
Copperheads and Water Moccassins, will come after you if you are in their territory, only thing is, you may not know they claim it!. and they will not allow you to pass them on an 8 -12 foot path/old road bed..so unless you are ready to run, better get ready to take care of the matter.
More people die from dog bites than snake bites in the USA.
The Timber Rattlesnake’s venom seems to be increasing in potency. This snake is responsible for the most deaths in the US including two just recently. Luckily, this snake is not aggressive. TR’s seem to be making a comeback in the Northeast.
PS -Most of you have been bitten by lousy writing skills. Please contact your nearest community college for the antidote.
“PS -Most of you have been bitten by lousy writing skills. Please contact your nearest community college for the antidote.”
Goodness – what a delightful observation and editorial.
Pray tell – what does the “MF’ stand for?
humans are extremely ignorant about snakes, venomous snakes in particular. no snake will not chase you no matter what, even if they’re guarding a kill or whatever nonsense you can come up with. cottonmouths only live withing the range map and even then the distribution is incredibly spotty. no chance there was ever a cottonmouth in the rafters of someone’s garage in the northeast US, the fact that someone believes this to the point that they are certain and will defend the information is hilarious and goes to show how far humans have advanced. i hope there are many people who have commented here that are too afraid to go boating because cottonmouths will jump out of the trees into boats for the sole purpose of wasting their venom. and don’t go hiking anywhere because it doesn’t matter what the range maps say, rattlesnakes are everywhere just waiting for a person to come along so they can chase them all over until they finally have them cornered and then bite them for no reason whatsoever
you guys need st patrick over there he put the snakes out of ireland
O.k. i understand the fear of being bitten by a venomous snake, but they are beautiful and useful animals who have every right to share this planet with us. If you must kill them then do so. Only interfere with them when absolutely necessary…they will eat the rats and mice and other pests. We’re moving to Arizona, snake country, so we will be careful and also will train our dogs not to get near a snake. There are folks who bring out caged snakes so you can correct your pet before they get close.
Some of the stories in this comment section have been laugh out loud hilarious!
I turned off the TV so as not to be distracted. My wife came out of the bedroom to ask why I was laughing so hard!
Chased by snakes…for nearly a mile!
I’m a snake Catcher, have been for 57 years, and I have never been bit by any of the snakes that I have caught, and relocated for all the years that I have been Catching, and relocated, and believe me that is a lot years since I was four years old in Texas in 1959. I have read all these responses, and believe me when I say that all snakes especially the venomous ones, and I have handled plenty of them in Texas, California, Mo., Kansas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and hear in North, South Carolina when I was in the Marine Corp from 77-81. I am still here in North Carolina still getting call from all the states around Me even up in West Virginia, and Virginia, and I have heard about so many Folklore that I could swim in, and that is all they are. I advise my customers to never touch a snake because I run into people who don’t know one snake from another. I will tell everybody else the same thing 1. if you see one don’t touch it. 2. AI have heard from other people they poke at the snake some know what the snake will do. 3. Call someone that knows what they know to do, and number 4. Don’t kill them because they are the Number one rodent controller of rodents. I do have agree with Mr.Will Smith because antivenom is very very expensive, and if you don’t know what kind of venomous snake has bitten you could be even more dangerous for you. I also agree with Rattlejen that the Babies are more deadly because they have learned to control the amount of venom they eject into a person one bite can kill you if you don’t get to a hospital. I’am used to at least ten different rattlers in Texas been I was Raised in Texas. but I can say that the biggest part of you have more since than the others I have read tonight. Good to let all of you Know I am still Catching snakes to this day with out a bite, and never will be bit not that I think I am any better than any of you because my day of getting bitten is around the corner the only thing I do than any of someone else is that I respect the Snake venomous or not because all of this United States was once all of theirs we moved in on them not the other way around, and today or tommorow we again still always take their homes away for our homes which we don’t need that much a snake especially rattlesnakes, and copperheads which hibernate under ground, and if it before their hibernation is up they are very very dangerous just like if we were woke up in the mild of the night people who don’t respect other people we get kind of mad to the others we just don’t bite them so think about what a 57 year veterian of Catching snakes is saying you don’t have to believe any thing I say it’s up to you, but I’m still alive, and unmarked for 57 Years, and going on 58 years. the Snake Catcher
Extremely good comment and advice; unfortunately ya do know most people won’t listen, right?
But well written and again good advice.
Thank you Snake Catcher
Here in north MS we have 2 main snakes we have to watch for, the copperhead and the cottonmouth. You are more times than not going to run into one of these 2 by not paying attention to your surroundings. I love to fish which puts me on the same water as the cottonmouth that calls that area home. I have had them swim right up to the boat, and had one in 50+ years stick his head over the side like he wanted in. More than likely….he was after the fish that were in the bottom of the boat and not after me. Yes they will stand their ground, and put on an aggressive display to let you know to leave them alone if you get too close and they feel threatened. It don’t mean they are attacking you. I have heard it said often that they are more afraid of you than you should be them, and that is true. As for being chased by them….nope not going to happen. They may stand their ground if they feel cornered, but they will not chase you down just to bite you. Copperheads if given the chance will run before you even know they were there. I have been bitten by a copperhead, and it is VERY painful. The way that happened was I accidently put my hand too close to it while loading hay bails one summer. It got me with one tooth, but that was enough to teach me to wear my gloves from then on.
One day deep in the central Illinois wood in the month of July i encountered well fed WaterMoccasin, right at the edge of lake where i was fishing. I had cast the line and then sat on the low grass reeling, the beast clawled up, came close to me , flicking it tongue.
Then looked right into my eyes. I felt like i am in some kind of spell, just could not move.
And then the Grey Beat said : Hello fella. Whats up in a deep whispering almost hissing voice, smiled, turned back and slowly left.
Interesting reading with most of it falling into the “folk lore” category. In the United States, there are four species of poisonous snakes. They include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and coral snakes. Among these poisonous snakes, rattlesnakes are the most common. There are multiple species of rattlesnakes throughout the country. The largest is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, which can get up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) in length. In the United States, approximately 7,000 to 8,000 people in the country are bitten by venomous snakes each year. Out of those, five die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Is fear of snakes learned or instinctive? Mathewson (1960) writes:
Babies and young children who have never been shown or told that they should fear reptiles rarely have a “natural” fear of them. When a small colorful snake or lizard, or even a turtle or alligator, is offered to a child who has never been taught to fear these animals, the child almost always reaches out for the reptile…
Many adults claim that they were never warned against reptiles, but that they have an instinctive terror of them. It is indeed probable that if we could see back into their early youth, we would find that something or someone gave these people the fear they now have.
Fear is the think tank of snake myths. These creative illusions spread and multiply possessing good people to mercilessly kill these innocent animals.
Most of the above is a result of “cut and paste” from various web sites. I am not a herpetologist but have had encounters with venomous reptiles that represent no threat to humans other than protecting themselves from harm. The old saying “leave them alone and they will leave you alone” is true to a large extent.
Much of what you say is true. I hold many of the same sentiments about snakes, BUT, to say that venomous snakes pose no threat to humans is naive and false. Modern medicine and anti-venom, coupled with fast access to these life saving techniques have brought snake bite related deaths way down. The small number of fatalities probably were folks in remote areas, by themselves, that had no quick access to them. This wasn’t so in the past
Not teaching children the dangers posed by snake bites is akin to telling them it’s ok to play with loaded guns because your town has a level-1 trauma center. Think about Chicago. Routinely, 10x plus as many people are shot by evil thugs as die from their wounds.
I have been stung several different times by a scorpion. First one was in one of my shoes and as I slipped my foot in, it nailed me right between my toe nail and the meat. I never went to a doctor, but worried about not going. The first was the worst. I experienced a periodic electric shock type feeling going up my leg to my entire body, another one fell from a curtain rod, hit me on the head, but didn’t have time to sting. I was stung in my thigh a couple of times. All were about 4″ to 5″, and light tannish colored. I had just bought an older house on the edge of town in central TX.