How to tell if a snake is poisonous

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Love them or hate them, it’s good to know which snakes are poisonous and which are harmless. Even though less than a third of snakes are dangerous (outside of Australia), it helps to be aware of how to spot a venomous one.

Get familiar with the venomous species

No, you don’t have to cuddle up with any snakes but try to learn the main types that are poisonous. In North America, there are four primary groups of snakes to be aware of. Copperheads are recognizable by their stunning, bright colors. They can be copper brown, bright orange, silvery pink, and peach-colored.

Coral snakes have colored bands along the length of their bodies. Remember their three colors: red, black, and yellow. These snakes have alternating wide bands of black and red with thin yellow lines in between.

Cottonmouths can be black or green and their pupils are very elliptical. Check for the white stripes on the side of their heads for easy identification. Also, they travel alone so that’s another telltale sign of a cottonmouth.

Finally, rattlesnakes are mostly identified by the noisy rattles on the end of the tail. Their heads are more triangular than other snakes and they too have the very elliptical pupils.

Remember useful snake tips

Here’s one that can help to set your mind at ease. If a snake is one solid color, there’s a high likelihood that it’s not poisonous.

Another tip is that non-venomous snakes tend to have more rounded heads. In contrast, poisonous snakes have more triangular heads.

If a snake hisses at you, this is a threatening warning and it would like you to go away. Leave it be and get out of there!

The good news for people in the United States is that snakes rarely venture into houses. You might find one in your yard but these tips will help you stay safe and sound.

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