In Texas, There are over 100 species of non-venomous, harmless snakes, and only 4 species of venomous snakes. There are multiple ways you can identify a venomous snake, but not all snakes follow these rules. I’ll talk about what those rules are and which snakes break those rules. Then, I’ll talk about the four venomous snakes in texas, because the best way to identify a venomous snake is to know what it looks like.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, you are four times more likely to be killed by lightning than a snakebite. Texas has an average of two to three deaths per year from snakebites, compared with eight from lightning. Many times people kill snakes such as the black rat snake or the racer snake, thinking they are copperheads. Which is a shame, because rat snakes and others do no harm and help keep the pest populations down . Besides, most snakes -- even venomous ones -- are not aggressive and would rather avoid people. A snake can only strike to a distance half its body length. So a reasonable distance will keep you safe. Give the snake time to go on its way. If you’re concerned about a venomous snake, call animal control instead of attempting to trap it on your own, particularly since some species, like the timber rattlesnake are on the endangered species list. Q: Are all snakes venomous?A: Two families of venomous snakes are native to the United States. The vast majority are pit vipers, which include rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths (water moccasins). About 99 percent of the venomous bites in this country are from pit vipers. The other family of domestic venomous snakes is Elapidae, which includes two species of coral snakes
Most venomous and non venomous snakes have unique body types that you can use to tell the difference. You can identify venomous snakes from their head shape, pupil shape, belly scale shape, and bite mark.
The easiest way to identify a venomous snake is by its head shape. Most venomous snakes have triangular heads to accommodate the venom sacks in their jaws. Unfortunately, many non venomous snakes have triangular heads as well, so you may want to use another method with this one.
Non venomous snakes have circular pupils, like a human, while venomous snakes have elliptical pupils like a cat. Unfortunately, you have to be very close to a snake to use this method, and it doesn’t always work. Texas lyre snakes, Northern cat-eyed snakes and Black-lined snakes all have elliptical pupils, but are harmless, The other exception is the venomous coral snake which has circular pupils.
This method can be used to identify a snake from its shed skin, or if you happen to get a good look at the underside of its tail,. Along the belly, all snakes have a single column of scales, but at the end of the tale, after the anal plate, non venomous snakes have two columns of scales.
This is the least ideal way to identify a snake and unfortunately the most accurate, however, if you have been bitten it does help to know that venomous snakes leave two distinct puncture marks. Non venomous snakes have many tiny teeth, so they leave a different bite mark. Non venomous snakes will make superficial cuts that will look like a horseshoe of tiny scratches. Unlike venomous snakes, most non venomous snakes cannot bite through clothing.
Sometimes snakes break the previous four rules by mimicking others. Still, if a snake does exhibit venomous characteristics, it’s a good idea to stay away.
The milk snake and the eastern kingsnakemimc the venomous coral snakes. Because harmless Texas scarlet snakes, Eastern Kingsnakes, and milk snakes share the red, black, yellow coloration pattern, it is important to notice the order of the colored bands. If the snake has red stripes on top of black, like the above, then it’s non venomous, but if it has red stripes on yellow stripes then it is venomous. A good memory-jogging device to learn is "Red next to black is O.K. for Jack; red next to yellow will kill a fellow." Finally, with scarlet and milk snakes, the bands do not completely encircle the body and the belly scales are uniform in color
Because non venomous snakes tend to mimic the way venomous snakes look, the best way to identify a dangerous venomous snake is to know what lives in your area and to recognize their scale patterns.
While many species of harmless snakes will vibrate their tail, only rattlesnakes have rattles which produce a recognizable "cicada-like" buzz. And while most rattlers will sound their rattles when they sense your presence, this is not always the case. If you catch a rattlesnakes totally by surprise, it may strike first. Luckily, rattlesnakes are easy to recognize for their pattern of yellow-bordered, black diamonds. Feared as deadly and aggressive, diamondbacks are actually highly averse to human contact and only attack in defense.
This is the coral snake. It has circular pupils and a narrow, non triangular head. Coral snakes are the only venomous snake in Texas that is brightly colored. The best way to identify it is through it’s colored bands, and the popular rhyme. Coral snakes are extremely reclusive and generally bite humans only when handled or stepped on. In fact, no deaths from coral snake bites have been reported in the U.S. since an antivenin was released in 1967.They live in the wooded, sandy, and marshy areas of the southeastern United States, and spend most of their lives burrowed underground or in leaf piles. Unlike other venomous snakes in texas, the coral snake produces a neurotoxin. here is little or no pain or swelling at the site of the bite, and other symptoms can be delayed for 12 hours.
You can identify a copperhead by the rust colored patch on its head. Copperhead markings look like a string of rust-colored hourglasses. Young copperheads are easily distinguished by their lemon-yellow tail, which young copperheads will retain for about a year. Young snakes are just as venomous as adults. Remember thatCopperheads are social snakes. They may hibernate in a communal den with other copperheads or other species of snakes including timber rattlesnakes and black rat snakes. They tend to return to the same den year after year. but are believed to migrate late in the spring to reach summer feeding territories and reverse this migration in early autumn.
The cottonmouth is easy to recognize because of its distinct triangular head. The cottonmouth is also called the water moccasin, and is recognized through it’s distinctive white mouth. The back is dark olive or black, the belly is paler. On young animals the back is marked by bands with dark borders and paler centers but this pattern is usually lost in older individuals. The snout is always pale, and there is usually a dark vertical line by each nostril. Cottonmouths are primarily active at night, but they bask in the sun during the day. Cottonmouths have varying temperaments. They are usually not aggressive and will not attack unless agitated.Cottonmouths are semi-aquatic and can be found near water and fields. They inhabit brackish waters and are commonly found in swamps, streams, marshes, and drainage ditches in the southern lowlands of the Unit
Remember, the easiest way to identify a snake is by knowing which snakes are venomous in your area, or look for triangular heads, elliptical pupils, fangs, or one column of scales under the tail.