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Texas Venomous Snake Guide
Please use the below as reference: also see: Texas Stinging Bugs
Menu: Veneomous - Non-Venomous - Preventing Snake Bites
Snakes are reptiles. Reptiles are cold-blooded, have skin covered with scales, and lay eggs. (Some snakes don't actually lay their eggs, but hold them inside until they hatch.) Snakes have no legs and no ears. Skilled predators, snakes help maintain the balance of nature by eating prey that reproduces frequently, everything from earthworms to rabbits. Snakes are especially important in the control of rodents such as mice and rats.
Venomous Snakes in Texas:
Texas is home to around 115 species and subspecies of snakes. The 15
venomous snakes in Texas make up less than 15 percent of the total number
of snakes in the state. They are separated into four categories: coral
snakes, copperheads, cottonmouths (water moccasins) and rattlesnakes.
Texas Venomous Snakes Top of Page
- Texas Coral Snake - Micrurus fulvius tener -
Yes, it's: "Red and Yellow, Kill a Fellow!"
Only one species of coral snake is native to Texas. Shy and rarely seen, it has, in order, brilliant red, yellow and black colors. (Other, harmless snakes have similar colors in a different order. The rhyme "red and yellow kill a fellow" has helped many remember that the coral snake's red and yellow colors touch, but the harmless milk snake's red and yellow don't touch.) The coral snake has a small mouth, and is usually non-aggressive. Its bites are dangerous, but extremely rare.
- Western Cottonmouth - Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma
AKA: Water Moccasins - The cottonmouth, or water moccasin, rarely strays far from water and can be found in marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, ditches, and canals in East and Central Texas and along the Gulf coast. It is a stubby, muscular snake and can grow to nearly six feet. Moccasins can bite underwater. These snakes can be very defensive and sometimes aggressive. Swimmers, bathers and anglers on river banks should always keep an eye open for these snakes.
- Southern Copperhead - Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix -
With their bands of gray and/or brown, the three subspecies of Texas copperheads are colored to blend in with leaf-covered forest floors. It's possible to stare right at a copperhead without seeing it. Fortunately, copperheads are the least dangerous poisonous snake. Because they are so well camouflaged, most bites occur when a snake is accidentally picked up or sat or laid on. Always use care when picking up or flipping over logs, boards, old tin or other items where copperheads may be resting.
- Broadbanded Copperhead - Agkistrodon contortrix laticinctus
- Trans-Pecos Copperhead - Agkistrodon contortrix pictigaster
- Timber Rattlesnake - Crotalus horridus
Nine kinds of rattlesnakes are found in Texas, including the massasauga. Rattlesnakes usually "rattle" before striking, but if they are totally surprised, they may strike before rattling.
- Desert Massasauga - Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii
- Western Massasauga - Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus
- Western Pigmy Rattlesnake - Sistrurus miliarius streckeri
- Prairie Rattlesnake - Crotalus virdis virdis
- Blacktail Rattlesnake - Crotalus molossus molossus
- Mohave Rattlesnake - Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus
- Western Diamondback Rattlesnake - Crotalus atrox
- Mottled Rock Rattlesnake - Crotalus lepidus lepidus
- Banded Rock Rattlesnake - Crotalus lepidus klauberi
Texas Non-Venoumous Snakes Top of Page
"Red and Black, Friend of Jack!"
- Big Bend Milk Snake - Lampropeltis triangulum celaenops
- Mexican Milk Snake - Lampropeltis triangulum annulata
- Gray-Banded Kingsnake - Lampropeltis alterna
- Texas Lyre Snake - Trimorphodon biscutatus vilkinsonii
- Trans-Pecos Rat Snake - Bogertophis subocularis
- Western Coachwhip - Masticophis flagellum testaceus
Preventing Snake Bites
Top of Page
Watching where you step, put your hands, or sit down is one of the best ways to prevent snake bites. Poisonous snakes live on or near the ground and often like rocks, wood piles and other spots that offer both a place to sun and a place to hide. Snakes avoid your huge body, but will definitely bite if stepped on or otherwise trapped. Most bites occur in and around the ankle. About 99 percent of all bites occur below the knee, except when someone accidentally picks up or falls on the snake.
The fangs of venomous snakes, though long and sharp, are relatively fragile and easily deflected or broken. These fangs usually don't penetrate canvas tennis shoes and almost never penetrate leather shoes or boots. Watching where you step and wearing boots in tall grass can prevent most snake bites.
Snakes are not something to be feared, but rather a creature to be respected as a fascinating member of the outdoors.