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Non-venomous snakes lack these specialized sensory pits. Most venomous snakes have a single row of scales on the underside of the tail. The venomous coral snake is an exception because it has a double row. A double row is common in most non-venomous snakes. This method of identification is best performed on a skin that has been shed, not on a live snake! It may take some courage for most people to perform field tests such as these. DeLoache conducted a study with a colleague about what makes people so afraid of these slithering creatures.

The UVA studies showed how quickly people can detect a snake before something else. In a case where eight photographs of flowers and one picture of a snake were placed on a computer screen, people would see the snake faster than they would see the flowers, DeLoache said. In a second study involving very young children, the kids associated frightened voices with snakes more than with other creatures.

DeLoache believes there are two primary reasons humans have a fear of snakes. Frank Allen, a wildlife biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation in Scottsboro, Alabama, says he even knows wildlife biologists who have a fear of snakes.

Snakes, he points out, are helpful to humans in many ways and perform important roles in the natural environment. For one thing, they help control rodents and other pests, some of which could transmit diseases to humans. Only about 14 to 16 percent of all snakes are venomous, said Baker. In the United States, humans experience about 8, bites from venomous snakes each year, according to the American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Of those, an average of 12 per year, less than 1 percent, result in death.

Far more people die each year from bee stings, lightning strikes or almost any other reason. Rattlesnakes account for most of the snakebite injuries in North America. Rattlesnakes have a tail that ends with a rattle or a partial rattle, from which they get their name. The rattle is made of interlocking rings of keratin the same material our fingernails are made of.

Rattlesnakes warn of an impending attack by vibrating the rattle, which creates a loud hissing sound. A rattlesnake has two heat-sensitive "pits," one on each side of its head. North America and South America. Most rattlesnakes are concentrated in the southwestern United States.

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Rattlesnakes prefer a diverse range of dry habitats, including grasslands, scrub brush, rocky hills, deserts and meadows. What you should know: Rattlesnake bites are the leading cause of snakebite injuries in North America and cause about 82 percent of fatalities.

However, rattlesnakes rarely bite unless provoked or threatened.


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If treated promptly, the bites are rarely fatal. Copperheads' bite when provoked, but their bites are rarely fatal. There are five subspecies. The northern copperhead A. They are sometimes called the Highland moccasin because of their Highland habitat. The Native American word for these snakes is mokasen. Copperheads have an unmarked copper-colored head, and thick reddish-brown, coppery bodies with chestnut brown cross bands that constrict towards the midline. Their temperature-sensitive pit organ is on each side of the head between the eye and the nostril. Young copperheads have a sulfur-yellow-tipped tail.

They grow to about 30 inches long, although the average and maximum lengths can be quite different, Baker said. Terrestrial to semi-aquatic areas, which includes rocky-forested hillsides and wetlands. Copperheads have also been known to occupy abandoned and rotting wood or sawdust piles.

Copperheads are most active from April through late October, diurnal in the spring and fall and nocturnal during the summer. Many snakebites are attributed to copperheads, but the bites are rarely fatal. Bites occur when people accidentally step on or touch the snake, which tends to be well camouflaged in its surroundings. Sometimes when touched, they emit a musk that smells like cucumbers. Cottonmouths are a 'stand their ground' kind of snake that enjoy sunning on rocks and logs. There are three subspecies: The back is dark olive or black, the belly is paler.

On young snakes, the back is marked by bands with dark borders and paler centers. This pattern is usually lost in older individuals. The snout is always pale, and there is usually a dark vertical line by each nostril.

Snakes | Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

The banding pattern in the young may be striking. Newborn cottonmouths have brightly colored tail tips, which look like a worm. The average length is inches, but occasionally can reach 74 inches.


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Cottonmouths are found mainly in the southeastern United States, from very southern Virginia to Florida and west to eastern Texas. These are semi-aquatic snakes and can be found near water and fields.

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They inhabit brackish waters and are commonly found in swamps, streams, marshes and drainage ditches. They also live at the edges of lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams and waters. They sun themselves on the branches, logs, and stones at the edge of the water. B - In cross section the body is round; all dorsal scales strongly keeled. A - If the dorsum back has chest-nut brown blotches bordered in black; pattern on the top of the head looks like a spear point then the snake is a Corn Snake Pantherophis guttatus.

B - If the dorsum back is black, some individuals may have faint outlines of black blotches; dorsum of head uniformly black then the snake is an Eastern Ratsnake Pantherophis alleghaniensis. A - Blotches present on the dorsum back of body.

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B - Blotches not present on the dorsum back of body. A - If the dorsal back blotches brown and squarish, these alternate with similar blotches along sides; venter belly brownish without distinct spots then the snake is a Brown Watersnake Nerodia taxispilota. B - If dorsal back blotches occur as dark-brown crossbands anteriorly but but change to alternating dorsal and lateral blotches posteriorly; venter belly pattern of half-moon shaped spots or peppering concentrated along the borders then the snake is a Northern Watersnake Nerodia sipedon sipedon.

A - If the eye diameter is greater than or equal to the distance from the eye to the nostril then the snake is a Red-bellied Watersnake Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster. B - If the eye diameter is smaller than the distance from the eye to the nostril then the snake is a Northern Watersnake Nerodia sipedon sipedon. A - Black or colored collar on neck. B - No collar or neck band.


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A - If a uniformly light-brown dorsum back with a dark-brown to black head and snout; neck band of black, scales wide separated from the head by a light brown band then the snake is a Southeastern Crowned Snake Tantilla coronata. B - If dorsum back is uniformly brownish or gray with yellow collar on neck; collar may be complete or broken at the dorsal midline then the snake is a Ringneck Snake Diadophis punctatus.

A - Preocular scale present. B - Preocular scale absent. A - If dorsum back uniformly gray to brown, with or without tiny black spots; dorsal 15 or 17 scales wide then the snake is an Eastern Smooth Earthsnake Virginia valeriae. B - Dorsum back with longitudinal stripes of red and black, or dorsum black with alternating red and black patches on sides; dorsal scale rows greater than or equal to B - Two internasal scales present, then snake is a Common Rainbow Snake Farancia erytrogramma erytrogramma.

A - Mid-body scale rows less than or equal to B - Mid-body scale rows greater than or equal to A - If 13 mid-body scale rows then the snake is an Eastern Wormsnake Carphophis amoenus amoenus. B - If 15 mid-body scale rows and dorsum green then the snake is a Smooth Greensnake Opheodrys vernalis. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email.

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