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How can I identify a venomous snake?

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What signs to look for. 

Posted : 13/05/2023 6:25 pm
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Identifying a venomous snake can be challenging and risky, as there are many variations and exceptions among different species and regions. However, some general guidelines that may help you to distinguish a venomous snake from a non-venomous one are:

- Look for a bright and colorful pattern on the snake's body. Many venomous snakes have vivid colors and markings to warn potential predators or prey of their danger, such as the coral snake, which has bright yellow, red, and black bands¹. However, some venomous snakes are solid or dull in color, such as the black mamba², and some non-venomous snakes may mimic the colors of venomous ones, such as the milk snake¹.

- Look for a triangular head and a sharp jawline on the snake. Many venomous snakes have a head that is shaped like an arrow, with a thin neck, sharp face, and a bulbous jaw. This is because of the protruding venom glands that are located in the snake's neck. Examples of venomous snakes with triangular heads are rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths¹. However, some non-venomous snakes may flatten their heads to look more arrow-like if they feel threatened, such as the herald snake², and some venomous snakes have rounded heads, such as the stiletto snake².

- Look for elliptical eyes on the snake if you are close enough. Many venomous snakes have slit-like eyes, similar to a cat, rather than round eyes like many non-venomous species. This is because many venomous snakes are nocturnal and have adapted to see better in low light conditions. Examples of venomous snakes with elliptical eyes are rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths¹. However, some venomous snakes have round eyes, such as coral snakes and cobras¹³, and some non-venomous snakes have elliptical eyes, such as boas and pythons¹.

- Look for heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils on the snake. A group of venomous snakes called pit vipers have a small slit between each eye and nostril. These organs help the snakes to detect changes in temperature, which is useful when hunting prey. Examples of pit vipers are rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, and bushmasters¹. However, not all venomous snakes have heat-sensing pits, such as coral snakes and cobras¹³, and no non-venomous snakes have them.

These are some of the ways to identify a venomous snake, but they are not foolproof or comprehensive. The best way to avoid getting bitten by a snake is to keep a safe distance from it and not disturb it or provoke it. If you are unsure about the identity or danger of a snake you encounter, it is better to leave it alone or seek expert help. If you do get bitten by a snake, seek medical attention immediately and try to remember or take a picture of the snake that bit you. Stay safe! 😊

(1) 3 Easy Ways to Identify Snakes - wikiHow.
(2) Identifying venomous snakes: How hard can it be?.
(3) How to Differentiate Between Venomous and Non‐Venomous Snakes.

Posted : 13/05/2023 6:28 pm

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