Venomous Snakes
Photos & Information about Venomous Snakes


Venom -vs- Poison     Since venom is injected, and poison is ingested, technically snakes are not "poisonous" or "non-poisonous". They are "venomous" and "non-venomous". However, since most people refer to snakes as poisonous or non-poisonous (and use these words in search engines), these terms are used here to describe snakes. My intention was not to deceive anyone or provide incorrect terminology, only to make these pages easier to find.

There are four different species of poisonous snakes in North America. These species are Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth Moccasin, Copperhead and Coral Snake.

Descriptions, information and photo links for these snakes are shown below. To see the photos and additional text, click on the species names. However, not all of the various sub-species are shown; there are just too many of them. Unfortunately, coloration and markings can vary greatly between the various sub-species, which can make identification difficult.

There are four distinct types of venom that act on the body differently.
  • Proteolytic (bleeding) venom dismantles the molecular structure of the area surrounding and including the bite.
  • Hemotoxic (blood-destroying) venom act on the heart and cardiovascular system.
  • Neurotoxic (muscle-destroying) venom acts on the nervous system and brain.
  • Cytotoxic (cell-destroying) venom has a localized action at the site of the bite.

 

 

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake - Commonly found in the SE U.S. in lower coastal plains; SE North Carolina to Florida Keys, W to S Mississippi and E Louisiana. Attains a maximum length of 96", which makes it our largest rattlesnake. Has a reputation for being the most dangerous snake in North America. Found from sea level to 500'.

Timber Rattlesnake - Commonly found in most of the eastern US, except the extreme northern regions. Attains a maximum length of about 75". Prefers remote wooded hillsides with rock outcrops, swampy areas and floodplains. Found from sea level to 6,600'.

Mojave Rattlesnake - Commonly found in southeastern US; S Nevada, S California and SW Utah. Attains maximum length of about 51". Prefers upland desert flatland supporting mesquite, creosote bush and cacti; also arid lowland with sparse vegetation, grassy plains, Joshua tree forests, and rock hills. Found from sea level to 8,300'.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake - Commonly found in the southwestern US, from SE California eastward to central Arkansas. Attains a maximum length of about 84". Prefers arid and semiarid areas; brush desert, rocky canyons, bluffs along rivers and rocky foothills. Found from sea level to 7,000'.

Speckled Rattlesnake - Commonly found in the desert areas of the southwestern U.S. Attains maximum length of about 52". Prefers rugged rocky terrain, rock outcrops, deep canyons, talus and chapparal amid rock piles and boulders. Can be found from sea level to 8,000'. Active during the day in spring and fall, at night in summer.

Pygmy Rattlesnake - Usually 15 - 31" long and ranges from eastern North Carolina to the Florida Keys west to eastern Oklahoma and east Texas. It prefers mixed pine-hardwood forest, sandhills, marshes and the areas near ponds.

Massasauga - This rattlesnake is usually 18 - 39" long. Unlike other rattlers, it has 9 enlarged scales on top of its head. It ranges from northwest Pennsylvania west to eastern Iowa and southwest into Texas. Its habitat ranges from dry woodlands to rocky hillsides to bogs and swamps.

Sidewinder - Commonly found in the desert areas of the southwestern U.S. Attains maximum length of about 33". Prefers arid desert flatland with sandy washes or mesquite-crowned sand hammocks. Can be found from below sea level to 5,000'. Travels over shifting surfaces by "sidewinding", a process by which the snake makes use of static friction to keep from slipping when crossing soft sandy areas. It leaves a trail of parallel J-shaped markings behind it. Primarily nocturnal, it is usually encountered crossing roads (and trails) between sundown and midnight in spring. During the day, it occupies mammal burrows or hides beneath bushes.

Black-tailed Rattlesnake - Usually 28 – 49 inches in length. Likes rocky mountainous areas; among rimrock and limestone outcrops, wooded stony canyons, chaparral, rocky streambeds; found near sea level to about 9,000'. Ranges from Arizona east to central Texas, south through central Mexico.

Tiger Rattlesnake - Usually 20 – 36 inches long. Prefers arid rocky foothills and canyons, primarily in ocotilla-mesquite-creosote bush and saguaro-paloverde associations; sea level to 4,800'. Ranges from Central Arizona south to S Sonora, Mexico.

Cottonmouth - Commonly found in most parts of SE U.S. and in S Missouri to south-central Oklahoma and central Texas. Attains maximum length of about 75". A very dangerous and aggressive snake. Prefers lowland swamps, lakes, rivers, bayheads, sloughs, irrigation ditches and small clear rocky streams. Found from sea level to 1,500'.

Copperhead - The Eastern Copperhead is commonly found in the southeastern U.S. and also in E Texas and E Oklahoma. The Northern Copperhead is found from SW Massachusetts to SW Illinois, south to NE Mississippi, N Alabama, N and central Georgia and piedmont of South Carolina. Attains maximum length of 53". Prefers wooded hillsides with rock outcrops above streams or ponds; edges of swamps. Found from sea level to 5,000'.

Western Coral Snake - Prefers rocky areas, plains to lower mountain slopes; rocky upland desert in arroyos and river bottoms. Found from sea level to 5,900'. Habitat ranges from central Arizona to sw New Mexico south to Mexico. Do not confuse this poisonous snake with other species that are harmless, such as the Milk Snake. The Coral snake has red and yellow bands that are adjacent, the non venomous species have red and black bands that are adjacent. Remember the jingle, "Red and yellow kill a fellow, but red and black is a friend of Jack".

Eastern Coral Snake - This beautiful snake is commonly found from SE North Carolina to S Florida (and the Florida Keys) west to S Texas. Attains a maximum length of about 48". Prefers moist, densely vegetated hammocks near ponds or streams in hardwood forests; pine flatwoods; rocky hillsides and canyons. Note that the red and yellow bands are adjacent. Do not confuse this poisonous snake with other species that are harmless, such as the Scarlet Snake and Scarlet Kingsnake. For these non-poisonous species, the red and black bands are adjacent. Remember the jingle, "Red and black, friend of Jack; red and yellow kill a fellow".

Texas Coral Snake - Usually 22 – 47 inches long. Prefers ponds or streams in hardwood forests; pine flatwoods; rocky hillsides and canyons. Ranges from Southern Arkansas, W Louisiana, S Texas into NE Mexico. Like other species of Coral snake, the red and yellow bands are adjacent. For the non-poisonous look-alikes, the red and black bands are adjacent.