Monday, May 04, 2015

Four Types of Poisonous Snakes in VA and MD

Copperhead Photo by John White

Timber Rattlesnake Photo by John White

Cottonmouth Photo by John White

Canebreak Rattlesnake Photo by John White

The copperhead is the only poisonous snake found across all of Maryland and Virginia. Though its bite is rarely fatal to humans, it can be fatal to a terrier who is likely to be bit several times if it finds one in a hedgerow or prowling for mice near a barn.

The good news is that copperheads are not quite as common as some people believe -- most snakes believed to be copperheads are misidentified. Nonvenomous snakes that look a bit like copper heads include eastern milk snake and the northern water snake, but these snakes have round pupils while a copperhead and other poisonous snakes have yes with vertically slitted, elliptically shaped pupils

Cottonmouths are rarely found far from water and generally only in very swampy parts. Just because you see a large black snake swimming does not mean it is a cottonmouth -- it it much more likely to be a black rat snake.

The timber rattlesnake is generally found only in the western parts of Virginia and Maryland, generally in the mountains near rocks and ledges.

The canebreak rattlesnake is quite rare, and you are not very likely to come across one. The good news is that if you do, the rattles will let you know that you have a rattlesnake and what to expect.


jeff hays said...

Red touches black friend of jack , red touches yellow may kill a fellow.

THAT little ditty teaches children the way to identify the small but deadly Coral Snake, which is at the very northern edge of it's range in Virginia, Maryland maybe too far.?
Anyway, if going south to hunt you might remember this little ditty to avoid Coral snakes and identify harmless KING SNAKES who share the same colors.

jeff hays said...

Beautiful pictures by the way.
RATTLERS don't always rattle before they strike, so be aware of where you put yourself. I once got face to face with a timber rattler, no rattle, just about died without getting bit !

Yohji said...

I'm down in Texas and copperheads are quite as numerous as people believe around here. I've seen them a lot of times and nearly stepped on a few. I'm grateful they're relatively mellow snakes or I'd have been bitten a lot... My favorites were when I was hiking in a small park I ran across two biologists in the field, squatting low and staring off into some foliage. I stopped and looked in the direction they were staring and sure enough, they were looking at two copperheads curled up at the base of a tree, just chilling. One was that magnificent copper and rust, the one next to it was its mirror, only in -green-. Copperheads have many different shades of "copper" and this one was so odd, I'd never seen one that shaded toward algae foresty green, like someone just went into photoshop and shifted the colors slightly toward algae, but it did. I wish I'd had a camera!

I love the canebrake. So pretty. I want to see one- from a safe distance!