Venomous Snakes

Generally speaking, Texas has four broad “kinds” of venomous snakes: the copperhead, the cottonmouth, the rattlesnakes, and the coral snake. The first three of those are pit-vipers, all of them having vertical pupils, venom apparatus that includes a pair of hollow fangs kept folded against the roof of the mouth when not in use, and the heat-sensing pit organs. The coral snake has short, fixed fangs in the front of the mouth and no heat-sensing pits.

Often, hikers and campers want to know how to identify these snakes quickly in the field (see below), and with experience and study, such a person can become good at it. But, the first thing to remember is that if you don’t pick it up, step on it, or get so close that it is cornered and frightened, it is extremely unlikely that you would be hurt, even by a venomous snake!

I’ve put together a free, downloadable guide to identifying the venomous snakes of the northeastern quarter of Texas, including the DFW area. An Identification Guide for Venomous Snakes in North Texas (click to open it) has photos of each of our venomous snakes and some comments about field safety and snake bite issues. I hope it is useful for naturalists, herpers, hunters, hikers, and people living in areas where they may encounter venomous snakes. I would love to get your feedback – tell me what you think of it!

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