Venomous Snakes of North America

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Venomous Snakes of North America

It’s warming up outside and spring and summer will arrive in a blink of an eye. Campgrounds and hiking trails will be full of your fellow outdoorsmen and of course, the occasional run-in with a snake. In this article, I’m going to share a list of North American venomous snakes to be on the lookout for.

Rattlesnakes

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Commonly found in the southeastern regions of the United States in lower coastal plains; southeast North Carolina to the Florida Keys, west to south Mississippi, and east Louisiana. Attains a maximum length of 96″ which makes it our largest rattlesnake. This snake has a reputation for being the most dangerous snake in North America.

Timber Rattlesnake

Commonly found in most of the eastern regions of the United States, except the extreme northern regions. Attains a maximum length of about 75″. Prefers remote wooded hillsides with rock outcrops, swampy areas, and floodplains.

Mojave Rattlesnake

Commonly found in southeastern regions of the United States; south Nevada, south California and southwest Utah. Attains a maximum length of about 51″. Prefers upland desert flatland supporting mesquite, creosote bush and cacti; also arid lowland with sparse vegetation, grassy plains, Joshua tree forests, and rock hills.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Commonly found in the southwestern regions of the United States from southeast California eastward to central Arkansas. Attains a maximum length of about 84″. Prefers arid and semiarid areas such as brush desert, rocky canyons, bluffs along rivers, and rocky foothills.

Speckled Rattlesnake

Commonly found in the desert areas of the southwestern regions of the United States. Attains a maximum length of about 52″. Prefers rugged rocky terrain, rock outcrops, deep canyons, talus and chaparral amid rock piles and boulders. Active during the day in Spring and Fall and active at night in the Summer.

Pygmy Rattlesnake

Usually 15 – 31″ long and ranges from eastern North Carolina to the Florida Keys, west to eastern Oklahoma, and east Texas. It prefers mixed pine-hardwood forest, sandhills, marshes, and areas near ponds.

Massassauga

This rattlesnake is usually 18 – 39″ long. Unlike other rattlers, it has 9 enlarged scales on top of its head. It ranges from northwest Pennsylvania, west to eastern Iowa, and southwest into Texas. Its habitat ranges from dry woodlands to rocky hillsides to bogs and swamps.

Sidewinder

Commonly found in the desert areas of the southwestern regions of the United States. Attains a maximum length of about 33″. Prefers arid desert flatland with sandy washes or mesquite-crowned sand hammocks. Travels over shifting surfaces by “sidewinding”, a process by which the snake makes use of static friction to keep from slipping when crossing soft, sandy areas. It leaves a trail of parallel J-shaped markings behind it. Primarily nocturnal, this snake is usually encountered crossing roads and trails between sundown and midnight in the Spring. During the day, it occupies mammal burrows or hides beneath bushes.

Black-Tailed Rattlesnake

Usually between 28-49 inches in length. Likes rocky mountainous areas usually among rimrock and limestone outcrops, wooded stony canyons, chaparral, and rocky streambeds. Ranges from Arizona to east/central Texas and south through central Mexico.

Tiger Rattlesnake

Usually between 20-36 inches long. Prefers arid rocky foothills and canyons; primarily in ocotillo-mesquite-creosote bush and saguaro-paloverde associations. Ranges from central Arizona and south to Sonora, Mexico.

Other Venomous Snakes

Cottonmouth

Commonly found in the southeastern regions of the United States. This snake mainly resides in southern Missouri to south-central Oklahoma and central Texas. Attains a maximum length of about 75″. A very dangerous and aggressive snake. Prefers lowland swamps, lakes, rivers, bayheads, sloughs, irrigation ditches, and small clear rocky streams.

Copperhead

The Eastern Copperhead is commonly found in the southeastern region of the United States. This snake can also be found in east Texas and east Oklahoma. The Northern Copperhead is found from southwest Massachusetts to southwest Illinois, south to northeast Mississippi, north Alabama, north and central Georgia, and throughout South Carolina. Attains a maximum length of 53″. Prefers wooded hillsides with rock outcrops above streams or ponds; also edges of swamps.

Western Coral Snake

Prefers rocky areas and plains to lower mountain slopes. Can also be found in rocky upland desert in arroyos and river bottoms. The habitat of the Western Coral Snake ranges from central Arizona to southwest New Mexico south to Mexico. Do not confuse this poisonous snake with other species that are harmless, such as the Milk Snake. The Coral snake has red and yellow bands that are adjacent. The non venomous species have red and black bands that are adjacent. Remember this saying? “Red and yellow can kill a fellow, but red and black is a friend of Jack.”

Eastern Coral Snake

This beautiful snake is commonly found from southeast North Carolina to south Florida (including the Florida Keys) and west to south Texas. Attains a maximum length of about 48″. Prefers moist, densely vegetated hammocks near ponds or streams in hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, rocky hillsides, and canyons. Note that the red and yellow bands are adjacent. Do not confuse this poisonous snake with other species that are harmless, such as the Scarlet Snake and Scarlet Kingsnake. Again, remember this saying, “Red and yellow can kill a fellow, but red and black is a friend of Jack.”

Texas Coral Snake

Usually between 22-47 inches long. Prefers ponds or streams in hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, rocky hillsides, and canyons. The Texas Coral snake can be found in southern Arkansas, west Louisiana, and south Texas into northeast Mexico. Like other species of Coral snakes, the red and yellow bands are adjacent.

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