Each summer we have to be careful for poisonous snakes when we’re out in the woods or working in the yard. Luckily for us here in North America there are only four species of venomous snakes to watch out for.
Even though the snakes are widely feared, and venomous snakes bite an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people each year in the United States, there are roughly only 5 deaths annually caused by snakebites.
The 4 species of North American poisonous snakes are the Rattlesnake, Coral snake, Cottonmouth aka (Water Moccasin) and the Copperhead.
We’ve always had cottonmouths where I live and lately copperhead snakes have become common as well. A couple of years ago I was bit by a black widow spider and opted to not have the anti-venom since it is the same treatment as a copperhead bite.
I was informed that if I were given anti-venom it wouldn’t be as effective if I ever need it in the case of a venomous snakebite! There was extra pain and suffering but I wouldn’t take back that decision especially with the amount of venomous snakes in my region.
The most legendary of these snakes is of course the Rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes cause trouble in countless western movies, everyone knows the sound from their rattle and their heads and tails are used on a high percentage of hokey western themed souvenirs.
Neat Fact: Rattlesnakes are unique to the Americas and are not found anywhere in the old world.
According to Wikipedia, rattlesnake bites are the leading cause of snakebite injuries in America.
The rattlesnake usually will provide a warning that your encroaching on its location by emitting a distinct rattle produced by a unique rattler located on the end of its tail.
The rattlesnake is the snake of choice for rural Southern American snake-handling congregations. This is derived from the bible verse Mark 16:17-18 which reads, “In my name … they will pick up snakes with their hands”.
This religious group will dance while holding snakes to prove that their faith in God keeps them from getting struck by the snakes.
Water Moccasins A.K.A. Cottonmouths
These nasty snakes are usually dark to almost black in color and live primarily near water since they are the only semi-aquatic pit viper. They are common in slow moving streams, creaks and rivers. They also inhabit most still standing waters in the southeastern region of the United States.
Where I live they are known to be fairly aggressive, territorial and they pack a very painful bite. They can grow fairly large and are commonly fatter with stubby tails in my area of North Texas.
Use caution when around bodies of water, especially smaller bodies of water that aren’t frequented by people often. I’ve seen rural ponds populated with dozens of cottonmouths.
Since we enjoy living in the country this is another snake we have to deal with on occasion. It’s become much more common in my area than in the past. A few summers ago I had an outbreak of these under my house and declared war!
I won that battle but we still spot them close to the house a few times each summer. In fact once while shoveling beside the house I looked down and there was one peaking it’s head out from under the house to see what I was up to. He was too fast and escaped his demise.
They have the diamond shaped head of other pit vipers but their noses are slightly more blunt. Often they have a pinkish-brown color that appears almost copperish. They aren’t a highly aggressive snake but are known to bite if you step on them. It’s common to walk right by one and never know it was there.
These snakes posses one of the most potent venoms found in North America. There are only 15-25 coral snake bites in the US each year because they prefer seclusion and are great hiders.
They’re elusive and prefer uninhabited areas. Coral snakes hide mainly under brush and leaves and likes to avoid conflict.
Coral snakes are known for their red, black and yellow banding and there are many rhymes to help people tell the difference between a poisonous snake and a non-poisonous snake with similar banding.
Red on black…friend of Jack…Red on yellow, kill a fellow. This rhyme can remind people in North America which banded snakes are poisonous or not. However in South America and other continents the coral snake is commonly has the same pattern as the non-poisonous snakes that share the same coloration.
I won’t risk it and I’ll stay away from them all…
Unlike pit vipers, coral snakes don’t usually strike and let go. They have a tendency to latch on and deliver more venom. This is what makes their bite so feared and dangerous.
What to do…
To learn how to treat a snakebite with first check out web md. We’ll go into treating dangerous bites on here later, but for now the web md resource should give you the basic information that you’ll need.
Avoiding and limiting your chances at running into a venomous snake is the best solution in my opinion.
There are many snake repellents on the market and I can’t vouch for how well they work. I’ve only tried one brand – Liquid Fence 261 Liquid Fence Granular Snake Repellent, 2 Pounds– and my problem lessened. But I was also actively waging physical war as well. This brand had good reviews and I believe it helps while being safer for the environment and your pets.
My other solution was to wait until a hot evening and turn on a big light out back. The copperheads would come out from under the house to eat up insects that fell to the ground. Then I would dispatch them with a shot from a .410.
Most snake guns in this area is a .410 shotgun. The circuit judge would be a great snake gun. It has a revolving cylinder in a short carbine that holds multiple shells. A used single-shot can be bought for under $100.
The best way to ensure that you don’t get bit is to practice safe behavior when outdoors. Watch were you’re stepping and learn to realize environments that venomous snakes prefer.
Here are some spots that snakes like to hang out:
- Under rocks and rock outcroppings
- On top of rocks and pavement early in the day to soak up the sun
- In brush piles and other places their preferred prey is
- Dry, cool spots under brush and other debris
Protecting yourself against accidental bites is easy with a sturdy pair of snake gaiters or chaps. Rattler Scaletech Snake Protection Chaps
If you have any great tips or advice please let us know in the comments below. We’d love your opinion. That means get down there and comment!