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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Coral snakes (Micrurus Fulvius)
Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon Piscivorus)
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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