Whether you love snakes or hate them, most people have a pretty strong reaction to snakes. We want to help you identify the venomous species of snakes versus the “safe” snakes.
First, we want to explain the difference between poisonous and venomous. Venomous means that the animal has a poison they can inject with use of fangs. Poisonous means that if someone or something eats it, it will be harmful or deadly.
Now we are going to help you identify traits associated with venomous snakes. The old rhyme goes, “red touching black, safe for Jack. Red touching yellow, kill a fellow.” This is what we all grew up on when identifying snakes in our backyard. We are going to show other ways to figure out venomous snakes from non-venomous.
Most common traits of venomous snakes:
- Pointy snout
- Elliptical pupil
- Heat sensing pit
- Broad head with skinny neck
Most common traits of non-venomous snakes:
- Round pupil
- Round snout
- Triangular head
For snake species that move through water, there is one main generalization to let you know whether to swim away or if you are safe to continue floating. If the snake is swimming above the water, it is typically venomous. If the snake is swimming under water, then it is typically non-venomous. This is because a venomous snakes swim with their lungs full of air. Whereas, non-venomous snakes swim with their bodies submerged.
Most common venomous snakes in the United States:
- Diamondback Rattlesnake
- Coral Snake
The coral snake is one of the only exceptions to this rule. They don’t have a heat sensor, elliptical pupils or the triangular face, but just seeing a coral snake should be warning enough.
We hope that these snake basics help you in the event you come across a snake in the yard, house or wilderness. Please contact us with any critter questions or concerns you may have or check our our frequently asked questions.