How to Identify Venomous Snakes

Avoid a trip to the ER.

No matter what the weather is like, we figured there’s no better time than the present for this useful reminder of how to identify venomous snakes. Because why not save a trip to the ER?

Identify venomous snakes

There are four different types of poisonous snakes in the US.

1. Rattlesnake.

These are probably the most well-known species. Maybe because you can find them all across the country. They get their name from rattles at the ends of their tails they use when threatened.

2. Cottonmouth (or Water Moccasin depending on where you’re from)

If you’ve ever had a day out on the water in the South, you’ve probably seen one of these skimming across the top. Their skin ranges from dark tan to black with dark crossbands around it.

3. Copperhead

Found in states from the East Coast to the Midwest. Can be found in forests, rocky areas and swamps.

4. Coral Snake

Found in Southern states. These sneaky guys like to hide in leaf piles and burrow into the ground. And they’re really similar to King Snakes, which is the inspiration for the rhyme we’ve all heard. It varies from person to person, but the idea is the same.

Red Touch Yellow – Kills a Fellow
Red Touch Black – Venom Lack
Yellow Touches Red – Soon You’ll Be Dead
Red Touches Black – Friend of Jack

According to the CDC, around 7,000 to 8,000 people get bit by a venomous snake every year in the U.S. alone.

But even with that high a number, there are only around 5 deaths a year as a result of getting bitten.

Another thing to watch out for is that some venomous snakes have a broad, triangular head. Which is an indication of the venom sacks under their jaw.

Their pupils are also elliptical shaped instead of round. You know, if you get close enough to tell.

The exception to each of those indicators (broad head, elliptical eyes) is the ever tricky Coral Snake, who has a small head and round eyes. So stick to the rhyme with that one!

Alright, so you can identify venomous snakes … what else should you know about snakes in general?

Snakes tend to get more active at night, and in warm weather, which could be why we see so many snake videos in the summer.

And we feel like we shouldn’t have to say this, but we’re going to. Don’t try to pick up or handle snakes you come across.

The best way to not get bitten is to just leave them alone.