VENOMOUS SNAKES

Types of Venomous Snakes

Rattlesnakes | Copperheads | Cottonmouths/Water Moccasins | Coral Snakes

Rattlesnakes

Rattle snakes group

Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1 and 2) and Edward J. Wozniak (3)

There are many species of rattlesnakes in the United States. Rattlesnakes are the largest of the venomous snakes in the United States. They can accurately strike at up to one-third their body length. Rattlesnakes use their rattles or tails as a warning when they feel threatened. Rattlesnakes may be found sunning themselves near logs, boulders, or open areas. These snakes may be found in most work habitats including the mountains, prairies, deserts, and beaches.

U.S. Geographic Region: Across the United States.

Copperheads

Copperhead snake banner

Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1 and 2) and Edward J. Wozniak (3)

Copperheads vary in color from reddish to golden tan. The colored bands on their body are typically hourglass-shaped. Most adults are 18–36 inches long. They are not usually aggressive, but will often freeze when frightened. Workers are more likely to be bitten when they unknowingly step on or near a copperhead. Copperheads are often found in forests, rocky areas, swamps, or near sources of water like rivers.

U.S. Geographic Region: Eastern states, extending as far west as Texas.

Cottonmouths/Water Moccasins

Cottonmouth snake banner

Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1 and 2) and Edward J. Wozniak (3)

Cottonmouth snakes average 50–55 inches long. The adult snake’s skin is dark tan, brown, or nearly black, with vague black or dark brown crossbands. Juveniles have a bold crossbanded pattern of brown or orange with a yellow tail. Cottonmouths are frequently found in or around water. They do not scare easily and will defend themselves when threatened.

U.S. Geographic Region: Wetland areas, rivers, lakes, etc., in the southeastern states.

Coral Snakes

Coral snake banner

Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1) and Edward J. Wozniak (2)

These snakes are often confused with nonvenomous king snakes, which have similar colored bands although in a different arrangement. However, if the red bands are touching the yellow bands, then it is a venomous coral snake. Coral snakes tend to hide in leaf piles or burrow into the ground.

U.S. Geographic Region: Wooded, sandy, or marshy areas of the Southern United States.

Page last reviewed: May 31, 2018
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