Quick Guide To Venomous & Non-Venomous Snakes : PeeDee Wildlife News
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Quick Guide To Venomous & Non-Venomous Snakes

by Dennis Matherly on 07/17/18

It's summertime and all of our snake friends are now awake for the season and on the go. While this quick guide of characteristics can help you differentiate between venomous and non-venomous snakes, please keep in mind to never intentionally approach a snake in an attempt to identify it. Always leave snake removal issues to the pros! Plus, even if a snake is not venomous, being bitten by any snake is an unpleasant experience. 

Snake Head Shape 
The shape of a snake's head can help you identify whether it is venomous or not. Venomous snakes tend to have a broad and triangular head. This shape occurs because the snake's venom is produced toward the back of the head near the neck. This makes it look as if the snake has a large, bulb-like head and a skinny neck. 

Snake Eye Pupil Shape
There are exceptions but generally, snakes with round pupils are non-venomous. Snakes with slit pupils, similar to a cat, are generally venomous. However, finding yourself close enough to a snake to determine what type of pupil it has is not a good situation. Back away slowly and retreat to a safe distance. 

Snake Rattling
Rattlesnakes get their name from the rattle on the end of their tail. ALL rattlesnakes are venomous and should be avoided. Some species of snakes have developed behaviors to mimic the rattling sound by swishing their tail through leaves or debris. Best course of action is if you hear rattling to move slowly in the opposite direction. Also keep in mind that baby rattlesnakes don't rattle as the rattle is created as the snake sheds its skin as it grows, but they are deadly should they bite. 

If you encounter a snake, remembering this quick guide list of differences between venomous and non-venomous snakes will help you determine how serious of a threat the snake is. In South Carolina, we have a number of venomous snakes including rattlesnakes, Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin), Copperhead and Coral Snakes. When it comes to snakes, don't take chances. Call the wildlife experts at Pee Dee Wildlife for safe removal and relocation.