Poisonous Snakes of United States
Pictures of Snakes
Recognizing a Venomous Bite
All poisonous snakes have 2 large fangs which are located in the upper front portion
of the mouth. If the victim is bitten and the snake escapes before the
identification can be made, the following signs should be noted:
- One to two punctures made by the hollow fangs. Pain following within 5 to 10
minutes accompanied by swelling and discoloration around the bite area. These
symptoms will progress up the victim's extremity. If the fang enters a vein or
artery, these symptoms may not be present.
- Coral Snake bites differ from Pit Viper bites.
Their venom is neurotoxic in nature. The bite is usually not painful, little or no
swelling or discoloration is present. Symptoms may be delayed for several hours but
when they do occur, they progress rapidly. Symptoms include nausea, drowsiness,
vomiting, marked salivation and difficulty in breathing. Paralysis is also noted in
Coral Snake invenomation.
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Rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp)
Characteristics of Pit Viper Snakes:
- Large fangs; nonpoisonous snakes have small teeth.
- The two fangs of a poisonous snake are hollow and work like a hypodermic needle.
- Pupils resemble vertical slits.
- Presence of a pit. Pit vipers have a telltale pit between the eye and the mouth. The
pit, a heat-sensing organ, makes it possible for the snake to accurately strike a
warm-blooded victim, even if the snake cannot see the victim.
- A triangular or arrowhead shaped head.
- The rattlesnake often shakes its rattles as a warning,
BUT NOT ALWAYS!
One snake that is not a pit viper snake but is poisonous is the coral snake. The coral snake is highly poisonous and resembles
a number of nonpoisonous snakes. It does not have fangs and has round pupils. Because its
mouth is so small and its teeth are short, most coral snakes inflict bites on the toes and
fingers. They have to chew the skin a while to inject venom. Coral snakes are small and
ringed with red, yellow, and black. The chances for recovery of a snakebite are great if
the patient receives care within two hours of the bite.
Copperheads (Agkistrodon Contortrix)
Coral snakes (Micrurus Fulvius)
Our thanks and gratitude to Dr. Andrew Kouloulis, noted herpetologist, for
permission to use his research and pictures provided on these pages. Information
taken from Dr. Kouloulis' Poisonous Snake Chart.
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