Venomous Summer Snakes

Venomous Summer Snakes

While It’s true there are plenty of snakes that play a vital role in our ecosystem that we should protect and preserve, there are also venomous species in areas that can pose a serious threat to human life. It’s important to be cautious of these species as they start coming out of hibernation for the summer. Here are a few venomous snakes that are common in our area and how to identify them.

Water Moccasins

Water Moccasin
Water moccasins have a triangular head. They are considered to be heavy-bodied and vary in coloration. These snakes can be active both during the day and night but tend to feed in the dark. They are found throughout the entire southeast U.S., typically near cypress swamps, river floodplains, and heavily vegetated wetlands. 

Copperheads:

Copperhead
Light brown to tan in color, copperheads can be easily recognized by the hourglass-shaped crossbands along their bodies. These snakes can be found throughout the eastern and central U.S., living in a variety of habitats. Copperheads are comfortable in dry, rocky areas, forested areas, or even wetlands. It is even possible to catch copperheads in suburban neighborhoods with patches of forest.

Timber Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake
Timber rattlesnakes are considered unique as they are active both day and night. They typically like to hibernate during cold weather but become active in late spring and remain so until late fall. These snakes are big, heavy-bodied, and can grow up to 6 feet in length. They are found in the eastern U.S. where you can spot them residing in forests, mountainous areas, rural habitats in farming areas and even near swamps and river floodplains.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern diamondbacks are dark brown in color and have a row of diamond shapes patterned on their bodies that are outlined by a yellowish border. Diamondbacks measure 3 to 5 feet but can reach up to 7 feet in length. These venomous snakes are active during the day but are most commonly seen in the mornings and evenings in the summer months. They often inhabit dry sandy areas, pinewoods, coastal dune habitats, and flatwoods. They typically avoid areas that are wet but will live along edges of swamps.

With this information in mind, it’s important to be aware and be cautious of these venomous snakes while outdoors enjoying your summer! Remember, however, to please be conscious that in certain states it is illegal to kill venomous snakes. If you realize you have a snake in or around your house, it’s best to contact a local wildlife control company who can safely remove the offending pest. 

What Kind of Snake is That?

What Kind of Snake is That?

Common Snakes in the South: Identification, Threats & Snake Control Tips

 

Eastern Kingsnakes

Eastern king snake on a moss covered log
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, usually 3-4 feet long
  • Shiny black color with white or yellow bands
  • Short, blunt snout and rectangular looking head
  • Small beady eyes

Where do you find them?

  • Protected areas such as woods, overgrown vegetation, cluttered areas, etc.
  • Prevalent throughout the southeast U.S.
  • Most active during summer months in the morning hours

How dangerous are they?

  • Strong constrictors
  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – other snakes, lizards, rodents, and birds
  • Limit clutter and stored wood near your home
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Rat Snakes

A rat snake in a bed of grass
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, 3-6+ feet long
  • Black, yellow with stripes, or gray with darker patches

Where do you find them?

  • Semi-protected areas such as woods, over grown vegetation, swamps, abandoned or vacant buildings, etc.
  • Prevalent throughout the southeast U.S.

How dangerous are they?

  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened
  • May climb for food

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – rats, mice, squirrels, birds, and bird eggs
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Garter Snakes

Someone holding a small garter snake
What do they look like?

  • Small to medium sized snakes, 1.5-4 feet long
  • Three yellow stripes running vertically down a dark colored body

Where do you find them?

  • Protected areas such as woods and marshes, but are also very common in grassy areas and around water
  • Suburban areas where areas of cover/shelter are available
  • Active day or night and often found under boards or debris
  • Common throughout the southeast and most of the U.S.

How dangerous are they?

  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – worms, slugs, frogs, toads, salamanders, fish and tadpoles
  • Limit items that can be used as cover/shelter around the home like scraps pieces of wood and debris
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Black Racer Snakes

A black racer snake slithering through the grass
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, 5+ feet long
  • Slender, solid black color and may have a white chin
  • Often confused for other large, black snakes
  • Juveniles look very different from adults; they are grayish colored with darker blotches

Where do you find them?

  • Thrive in nearly any habitat, but are more abundant near forest edges, old fields, or wetland edges
  • Common throughout the eastern U.S.
  • Active during warmer months in the daytime hours

How dangerous are they?

  • Usually flee from threats
  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – insects, lizards, snakes, birds, rodents, and amphibians
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Brown Snakes

A brown snake stretched out on a rug
What do they look like?

  • Small snakes, 6-13 inches long
  • Most are brown but may be yellowish, reddish, or grayish-brown with rows of darker spots on the back

Where do you find them?

  • Wooded areas, near wetlands, and urban areas
  • Not found in areas of high elevation
  • Under wood, leaves and debris in residential areas and any other area with adequate groundcover
  • Most common snake in urban environments
  • Most active during evening or night hours, occasionally seen crossing roads

How dangerous are they?

  • Non-venomous
  • May bite if handled or threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – slugs, earthworms or other soft-bodied invertebrates
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed pest control company

Copperhead Snakes

A copperhead snake resting in a log
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, 2-4 feet long with a heavy body
  • Head is distinctly triangular shaped
  • Tan to brown with hourglass shaped darker bands running across the body
  • Juvenile copperheads have a distinct yellow tail tip

Where do you find them?

  • Semi-protected areas such as woods and swamps
  • May be found in suburban areas
  • Throughout central and eastern U.S. except some southern portions of Georgia and all of Florida

How dangerous are they?

  • Venomous
  • Do not handle or approach, may bite if threatened
  • Use caution when outdoors at night in the summer

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – mice, small birds, lizards, small snakes, amphibians and insects
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them
  • Professional snake control by a licensed wildlife control company

Water Moccasins (Cottonmouth Snakes)

A water moccasin coiled up at the base of a tree
What do they look like?

  • Large snakes, 2-4 feet in length with a very heavy body
  • Color varies from solid brown or brown or yellow with dark crossbands
  • Juveniles have a yellow tail tip
  • Head is distinctly triangular (due to venom glands)
  • Characteristic threat display with the head in the middle of the coiled body with the mouth wide open (mouth is white on the inside, hence the cottonmouth nickname)

Where do you find them?

  • Freshwater habitats, cypress swamps, river floodplains, and heavily vegetated wetlands
  • Throughout the southeast U.S. but are slightly more common in coastal regions
  • Active day or night but most often seen foraging at night for food in warmer months

How dangerous are they?

  • Venomous
  • Do not handle or approach, may bite if threatened
  • Use caution when around fresh water habitats

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home (bodies of water) – amphibians, lizards, snakes (including smaller cottonmouths), small turtles, baby alligators, mammals, birds, and fish
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them

Coral Snakes

A coral snake slithering on the ground
What do they look like?

  • Medium sized snakes, 1.5-2.5 feet long
  • Brightly colored, red, yellow, and black
  • When threatened the tail is lifted up and the tip is curled over

Where do you find them?

  • Pine and scrub sandhill habitats
  • Hardwood forests and pine flatwoods that flood
  • Suburban areas
  • Throughout much of the southern coastal plain (most common in Florida)
  • Rarely seen, they spend the majority of their time underground
  • Most sightings occur in the Spring or Fall

How dangerous are they?

  • Venomous
  • Do not handle or approach, may bite if threatened

How do you prevent and/or control them?

  • Keep food sources away from your home – other snakes and lizards
  • Use a product that snakes find repellent to prevent them

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