How to Find and Correctly Identify Six North Carolina Venomous Snakes


People in North Carolina know that in addition to the warm spring and summer climate, they are always on the lookout for sly things when they’re outdoors.

For many, the heart beats when they see a snake. However, of the 38 species of snakes in North Carolina, the majority are non-toxic and not aggressive to people unless threatened.

Especially in spring, snakes become more active and more likely to cross our path. It is useful to know from harmless snakes to venomous snakes (sometimes mistakenly called toxic).

How to tell if a snake is toxic

What is the shape of your head? As a rule of thumb, most venomous snakes have triangular or diamond-shaped heads, while non-poisonous snakes have tapered heads.

Can you see If you are close enough to see the snake’s pupil, be aware that the venomous snake has a rectangular pupil that looks like a slit in the center of the eye. Venomous snakes usually have round pupils.

North Carolina venomous snake

There are six venomous snakes found in North Carolina: Copperhead, Cottonmouth (Also called Cottonmouth), Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Timber rattlesnake, Pygmy rattle snake And that Eastern coral snake..

Coral snakes are very rare, but they have very serious bites.

Scroll to the bottom of this story for tips on how to handle snake bites and more snake photos.

Here’s an overview of the six toxic snakes in North Carolina:

Copperhead

Copperhead is monitoring visitors from the habitat of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Copperhead is monitoring visitors from the habitat of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Copperhead snakes are the most common venomous snakes in North Carolina.

It has a brownish color and is shaped like an hourglass that resembles Hershey’s Kisses.

Charlotte’s Carolina Poison Center says it receives about 10 times more copperhead bites than all other snakes combined. Copperhead bites can be severe, but about half of copperhead bites cause only mild swelling and pain.

Adult pit vipers grow to a length of about 3 feet and are found throughout North Carolina.

Scroll down to the slideshow at the bottom of this story to see more photos.

(((Source: Carolinas Poison Center).

Cottonmouth (water moccasin)

Cottonmouth snakes have dark bands on dark or olive-colored skin, but are best known to have a white cotton-like inside of the mouth.

Young cotton mice are light in color and resemble pit vipers.

Young pit vipers have bright yellow or greenish tail tips, and the details of the crossband pattern are most apparent in this age group. Old cottonmouth snakes are often completely dark and unpatterned.

The pit viper is found primarily in the eastern part of North Carolina and prefers a freshwater environment (although it can also be found on land).

The severity of cottonmouth bites is similar to that of copperhead bites.

Adult pit vipers grow to about 3-4 feet in length, but are known to grow to 6 feet.

Scroll down to the slideshow at the bottom of this story to see more photos.

(((Source: Carolinas Poison Center, NC wildlife)

Cottonmouth snakes curl up on the surface of the pond.

Cottonmouth snakes curl up on the surface of the pond.

Eastern diamondback rattlesnake

A defensive diamondback rattlesnake ready to attack with a rattle snake next to its head.

A defensive diamondback rattlesnake ready to attack with a rattle snake next to its head.

The eastern diamond-backed rattle snake has gray or yellowish skin and has a dark diamond pattern with black contours. They have a large, wide head and two thin lines on their faces.

These snakes are known for the rattling noise they make to cool their bones.

Rattle snake bites are more severe than bites from American beetles and cotton mice and are considered emergency care.

The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is not the longest in the Americas, but it is the heaviest venomous snake and the largest rattle snake in the world. These snakes weigh up to 4-5 pounds and typically grow to about 4-5 feet in length (the largest ever recorded length was 8 feet).

They are found in the southeastern part of North Carolina and prefer sandy coastal areas.

Scroll down to the slideshow at the bottom of this story to see more photos.

(((Source: Carolinas Poison Center, Savannah River Ecology Lab)

Pygmy rattle snake

On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, two pygmy rattle snakes are spinning around in the habitat of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina.

On Tuesday, May 2, 2017, two pygmy rattle snakes are spinning around in the habitat of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Pygmy rattle snakes have gray, pinkish, or red skin and dark speckled patterns.

Pygmy rattles rattle, but rattles sound like buzz.

Rattle snake bites are more severe than American beetles and cotton mice and are considered emergency care.

They grow only up to about 1-2 feet in length and are found in the southeastern part of North Carolina, especially in forests.

Scroll down to the slideshow at the bottom of this story to see more photos.

(((Source: Carolinas Poison Center)

Timber rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnakes come in a variety of colors, but light skin has dark bands and a rattle snake on the edge of its tail. Coastal varieties look like brown or orange “racing stripes” in the middle of the back.

Rattle snake bites are more severe than American beetles and cotton mice and are considered emergency care.

Timber rattlesnakes, which grow to about 4 feet in length, are found throughout North Carolina and are forest-loving.

Scroll down to the slideshow at the bottom of this story to see more photos.

(((Source: Carolinas Poison Center)

Eastern coral snake

This adult female eastern coral snake was discovered in May 2013 in Carolina Beach State Park.

This adult female eastern coral snake was discovered in May 2013 in Carolina Beach State Park.

Coral snakes are actually Very rare in North Carolina It is believed to be endangered, but it is highly toxic.

They are thin with red, yellow and black rings. Coral snakes are very similar to scarlet kingsnakes (harmless), but there is an easy way to distinguish them. Remember this rhyme. “Jack’s friend, red touches black. Red touches yellow and kills his companion.”

Another way to distinguish between scarlet kingsnakes and coral snakes is the color of the nose. Scarlet kingsnakes have a red nose, and coral snakes have a black nose.

Coral snake noses also have a dull shape, especially compared to most snakes.

Coral snakes live in sandy areas near the South Carolina border and most often stay underground.

Coral snake venom attacks the central nervous system, and when death occurs, it is usually the result of respiratory failure.

Scroll down to the slideshow at the bottom of this story to see more photos.

(Source: North Carolina Herbs)

If you are bitten by a snake, you need to do the following:

▪ ▪ Please sit down and calm down.

▪ ▪ Gently wash the bite area with warm soapy water.

▪ ▪ Remove all jewelry and tight clothing near the bite area.

▪ ▪ If possible, keep the bite still and raise it to heart level.

▪ ▪ Call the Carolina Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222.

Note: If the victim of a snakebite has chest pain, dyspnea, swelling of the face, or loss of consciousness, call 911 immediately.

If you are bitten by a snake, you should not do the following:

▪ ▪ Cut out the bitten part and try to expel the poison. This can exacerbate the injury.

▪ ▪ Cool the area with ice. Accretion causes additional tissue damage.

▪ ▪ Apply a tourniquet or any tight bandage. In reality, it is better for the poison to flow through the body than to stay in one area.

▪ ▪ Suck a bite or try to remove the poison using a suction device.

▪ ▪ Try to catch or kill the snake.

For questions or more information about snakebites, please contact the Carolinas Poison Center (1-800-222-1222).

(((Source: Carolinas Poison Center)

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