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Watch Out For Poisonous Snakes!

Discussion in 'Nature' started by 2sweed, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    Many times when I have been out camping or walking in the woods in areas where venomous snakes are know to be I see people letting their children run wild through the woods, or adults reaching under rocks or into tall grass for firewood, without first eyeing the area to be sure it is snake free.

    Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin)
    Found mainly in the southern parts of the United States, in and around swamps and slow streams, shallow lakes and ditches and rice fields. They have a stout body and a flat head and a pit in front of and just below the eye. The color of their skin scales can be plain or with wide dark ragged-edged cross bands, and a mouth that is white on the inside. Young snakes have a very vivid skin scale pattern and a yellow tip on the tail.

    Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
    These snakes skin scale pattern is copper or orange, or pinkish, with bold-brown crossbands and often a narrowing at the center of the back, and a plain colored head. The pit is in front of and just below the eye. They have vertical pupils.
    Found in rock outcrops and ravines in forests, and along the edges of swamps and lakes, and floodplains. In the south we often found them under road signs laying on the ground or under old boards or tin.

  2. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
    Length 3-6 foot long. Look for a black tail with a rattle. the snakes head will be wider than his neck. Colors differ depending on area of country found. The northern form can be all black to yellow with dark blotches, and the southern form can be tan or grayish or pinkish form with a red-brown stripe down the center of his back and a dark stripe behind the eyes.

    In PA., we have the black or yellow colored timber rattlesnakes. Found in rocky wooded areas and along rivers and swamps, and lowland forests. It is not uncommon to see them crossing the road or along a hiking trail. In some areas these snakes have regular snake crossing areas that have been noted for over a hundred years by farmers and wildlife managers. They are found in many areas throughout the United States.

    If you encounter a rattlesnake it is best to admire it from a distance and then leave it alone. Rattlesnakes are highly venomous and it can be a matter of life and death if you are bitten. I have provided two links, the first shows the southern form and the second will be the northern form.
  3. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    The next snake I am going to tell you about, I have seen up close and personal. It is amazing how beautiful this snakes skin can be, and how big they can get. In some video's you see guys with snake hooks handling the snakes. Leave doing this to the professionals, as they know what their doing and how dangerous it can be in handling poisonous snakes.

    Eastern Diamond-back Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)
    Look for a rattle on the tail and a back covered with dark edged diamond-shaped blotches surrounded by row of lighter colored scales. There are two diagonal stripes on the side of head and pale vertical lines on the snout. They are found in the southern eastern areas of the United States. Their length can be from 3-6 feet. Although, larger ones have been found. Their habitat is in pine and oak woodlands and abandoned farmlands and housing developments. and in areas covered with saw-palmettos.

    Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
    Look for a tail with a rattle, that has black black and white bands around it and a back with pale-bordered diamond-shaped or hexagonal blotches often faded or sprinkled with dark spots, plus two pale diagonal stripes on each cheek. They are found in lengths from 3-7 foot. Their habitat is dry prairies and brushy deserts and rocky foothills and farmlands. Found in the southwestern United States and in Mexico.

    One thing I find very common with all snakes is their ability to blend in with their surrounding. This is the reason why it is so important to watch where you are walking and reaching, and when stepping over logs or traveling in rocky areas, to stay alert and be prepared to get out the way should you see one in your travels.

    Massasaugas (Sistrurus catenatus)
    Look for a light-edged dark stripe behind the eye and rows of dark slotches in center of back and on the sides. they have a thick tail and a tiny rattle. Length is 1 1/2-3 1/4 feet long. Their habitat is wetlands and dry woods in the east, and wet to dry grasslands in the southwest. Found from the great lakes area stretching westward and into southern areas.

    Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)
    Has same skin scale markings as the above species, but averages in length to about 1 1/2 feet long. Some pygmies have a pinkish hue color in their skin scales. Found in above mentioned areas, as well as, in Southern Florida.

  4. TABL

    TABL Explorer

    Snakes scare me!!!!!
  5. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    One of the most deadly poisonous snakes lives in the southern parts of the United States. This snake's venom can affect your nervous and respiratory systems and cause respiratory paralysis, that if not treated in time leads to death. It is best to stay away from this snake.

    Eastern Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius)
    This snake is brightly colored in bands of red and yellow and black, which circle it's body. It has a blunt black snout and head black to just behind the eyes. It's length is from 1-4 feet long. It is identified by remembering the old saying that red touch yellow, kill a fella, red touch black friend of Jack. There are several harmless snakes who's colors are similar yet in all of them the black bands touch the red bands, proving it is a non-poisonous species.

    Western Coral Snake (Micruroides euryxanthus)
    Otherwise known as the Arizona Coral Snake, is also brightly colored with bands of red and yellow and black. Although, the color bands are somewhat different as shown in the following video, if you see one you will know to leave it alone.

    Both of these snakes are found in dry woodlands to wet subtropical hammocks, and in the rocky hillsides and canyons of Texas and Arizona. The following video will give you more information about both of these snakes. Should you be bitten by this snake seek emergency help as soon as possible.

  6. Esperahol

    Esperahol Newbie

    Well the fact of the matter is generally speaking snakes are not especially aggressive creatures, on top of which venom is not a resource they spend freely. So in general even in an area known to have venomous snakes you don't have to spaz too hard about them. I mean honestly you tend to get some kind of warning be it a hiss or the assuming of a striking posture or depending on species flaring of hoods/rattling of tails. Of course, this is with adults - juveniles and hatchlings tend to be more of crapshoot.
  7. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    Do to the fact my husband was a snake hunter I do have personal knowledge in this area. Some types of snakes are not really aggressive, but if stepped on or if a hand reaches toward them they will strike. Don't count on the warning. Several times when I was out with my husband, the snakes never rattled or hissed, but did repeatedly strike out from their coiled position. A coral snake's only warning is it's color. Copperheads and Cottonmouths can be aggressive or give no warning that they are there.

    I remember on time that my husband stepped up to a old car hood and looked under it to see if a snake was hiding there. As he dropped the car hood back to the ground he looked down between his legs and coiled between his feet was a big diamond-back rattlesnake. He slowly stood up and suddenly jumped into the air and back six feet. The snake never moved or rattled a warning. After his heart beat slowed down he went back and caught the snake. Talk about scary moments. He figured as he lifted the hood the snake moved out into the tall grass and coiled up between his feet.

    So I would not be laid back and careless in areas known for having poisonous snakes.
  8. Esperahol

    Esperahol Newbie

    Hmm, you can't depend on it but I did say generally when dealing with adults. That said there are some worrisome trends right now and one of those is that especially in Texas rattlesnakes are learning not to rattle before striking. Of course, this has a lot to do with the ones that do rattle being captured so there is anthromorphic pressure toward selection of non-warning behavior. Sorry - this was a favorite of my group at one time.
  9. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    @Esperahol, I value your comments and find this last comment quite interesting. I would have to agree that some snake hunters can and do, change the normal behaviors of snakes. Some are quite rough and careless in handling, and releasing of different types of snakes. My knowledge of western rattlesnakes comes only from what I have read in books and find this advice to be quite interesting.

    I was enjoying this discussion with you and mean't no disrespect of your opinions.
  10. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    Although you still need to be careful there are actually many types of snakes which look similar to poisonous ones which are actually harmless. Usually there are small subtleties that you can look for to identify them. This works well for these species because it has the same effect of causing fear in other animals that they are poisonous.

  11. Esperahol

    Esperahol Newbie

    Oh, no I didn't think so I just wasn't sure how I was coming across. That's the downside of text - it's easy to get signals crossed and then everyone's upset. So yeah I like your insights since I have more of a... academic understanding of the situation.

    Yes the example being the Coral snake versus say a milk snake. Of course, it's a rather large field, imitation is, and some of the examples are rather spectacular. There is if I recall correctly a form of caterpillar that manages to look like a snake that just happens to end abruptly. There is also an ant that like to pretend to be a wasp, and several forms of rather interesting fish that also play these kinds of games.
  12. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    Glad to hear we are like minded. And I agree writing is not like talking face to face, where one can more easily straighten out a simple misunderstanding. :)

    My snake-hunting days are long over, it has been almost twenty years since my last encounter with poisonous snakes. One story I must tell is of a small shop in South or North Carolina, where they sold things made out of snakeskin. We had stopped in on our way back to Florida, for a look see, and both my husband and I, were sickened by the sight of hundreds upon hundreds, of snakeskin items mostly made out of western rattlesnake skins.
    Such a waste. We both left the shop quickly and downhearted to say the least.

    My husband loved having snakes as pets even as a young man. He had non-poisonous rat snakes and a python or two, but always took very good care of them. Snake hunting became a hobby that he enjoyed for many years. Sometimes he would find dead snakes on the road and take them home and skin then tan the hides to make belts and wallets, but he never killed a snake for it's skin. So this shop, was a real eye-opener of what some folks will do just to make money.

    Anyways, I was wondering if the western rattlesnakes get as big, as a general rule as the one shown in the video? Have you ever come across any when you were out camping or hiking?

    Even I had trouble telling the non-poisonous ones from poisonous snakes. I remember standing on a creek bank by a bridge waiting for my husband to come back from looking under the bridge for snakes, when I noticed two big snakes in the light brush not far away from me. I thought they were harmless until I pointed them out to my husband who said they were cottonmouths. One was dark brown and the other had a yellowish tint to his skin, because he was shedding skin. I was not a happy camper to learn I had been standing that close to two poisonous snakes. lol
  13. Esperahol

    Esperahol Newbie

    I have more experience with Eastern rattlesnakes, and they can get pretty good sized. I recall trapping one as part of my coursework and then trying to figure out how to deal with something that big and aggressive. That said I've seen a few Westerns and generally speaking they tend to be smaller than what I'm used to. It may just because they are over hunted and so don't have time to grow that large. As far as pets go I have several ball pythons and a king snake.
  14. 2sweed

    2sweed Natural Camper Staff Member

    What type of work or studies do you, or have you done that brought you in contact with snakes? It always seems like those folks who own snakes or, and have spent enough time around them, are the ones willing to talk about them.

    Here is a video of a wild rattlesnake roundup in Texas. Seems to me that is a nasty way to get rid of snakes. But it is just like the little shop in NC or SC, kill and then make use of skins and meat, rattles. Have you ever attended one of these events?

  15. bigteeth96

    bigteeth96 Newbie

    Snakes scare me! I will run away from any snake, even the ones people purchase from the pet store. The idea of how they work just gives me shivers. I wouldn't want to be slithered on or coiled up on.
  16. Esperahol

    Esperahol Newbie

    Biology major - concentration in conservation. So a lot of trapping animals - small mammals, snakes, larger mammals, insects, birds, a couple of crocodilians, an ungodly amount of fish and amphibians... lots of things. This came in handy when I went for environmental law later on.

    I try to avoid Texas when it comes to rattlers, because they are honestly jacking up the environment while creating an enormous pressure for the selection of non-rattling rattlesnakes. That is exactly what the world needs - more highly venomous creatures that are hard to detect and that don't tell you they're there. Wonderful.

    I can understand your point, but I personally think you need to hold one. They have lovely "skin" and they're warm and dry and generally not going to murderer you viciously.
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