One of the first fears that people have when they come in contact with a snake is whether or not it’s dangerous to them. There are four main types of poisonous snakes in Texas: the cottonmouth, the copperhead, the coral, and the rattlesnake. The most common snake in the Central Texas area is the Texas rat snake, which is not venomous but often mistaken for a rattlesnake because it occasionally vibrates its tail, giving the illusion of a rattle. In reality, most people who call about rattlesnakes in their home are actually dealing with a rat snake. However, if you ever find a snake in your house and aren’t sure how to deal with it, call a professional. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Identifying Coral Snakes
The coral snake is the only snake with red, yellow, and black bands that touch in that order. Other snakes have similar coloring but their red and yellow bands do not touch. This is the easiest way to distinguish a coral snake from similar but harmless snakes such as the milk snake, which just has red and black bands. The phrase “If red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow” can help you remember the difference. These snakes are typically 2 feet long and although they are venomous, they have a hard time biting humans because of their small heads and short fangs.
Identifying Pit Vipers
Copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes are called “pit vipers” because they have a special “pit” organ between their eyes and nostrils that uses heat sensors to hunt prey.
Also known as water moccasin, cottonmouth snakes rarely leave the water and prefer to live in quiet, slow moving bodies of water like ponds and marshes. They are called cottonmouths because they will show their fangs when threatened, exposing the white colored insides of their mouths. However, many snakes have white mouths so don’t assume every snake with this feature is a cottonmouth! These snakes are typically 2 to 3 feet long and can be mostly solid black and brown colored or have black and brown bands running the length of their bodies.
These snakes are most commonly recognized by the “rattles” on the end of their tails. They usually shake their rattles before striking or to scare away predators. The Texas rattlesnake is 3 to 4 feet long and is typically colored with grey and brown diamond patterns down its back, and then has black and white rings near its tail just before its rattle. They usually don’t like to be around humans, but can be attracted by food, water, and places where rodents live.
True to their name, these snakes have copper colored heads with bands of light brown and tan down the length of their bodies. Some have a greenish-yellow tipped tail as well. Copperheads aren’t climbers and often rest under logs or boards. The majority of copperhead bites happen when they are accidentally sat or stepped on. In the hot summer months, they become almost completely nocturnal, so you’re more likely to find an active copperhead in the fall or spring months.
If You Come in Contact With a Poisonous Snake
If confronted with a venomous snake, first and foremost do not attempt to attack or kill it. In addition, shooing it away with a broom or stick is also not foolproof, as most snakes can strike from a distance of up to half of their body’s length. Even if you think you’re a safe distance away, these animals are fast. The majority of snake bites happen because the snake feels threatened and wants to defend itself. If bitten by any snake, poisonous or not, seek medical attention to prevent infection. If the snake is in your home and needs to be removed, you may want to call a professional and have it humanely removed just to be safe.