The Most Common Poisonous Snakes and How to Avoid Them

Springtime is here, and that can usually mean that snakes are going to start venturing out and about. In the colder months, they burrow deep into their holes underground, but with temps rising, they are going to come out and start breeding. Needless to say, there aren’t many of us out there who love snakes. In fact, it is quite the opposite for most people. Since snake sightings are going to be more frequent, you need to be on the alert. This means you need to know which kinds of snakes are dangerous, and which ones are not.

Poisonous or Non Poisonous

The first thing you should know is how to tell if a snake is poisonous or not. One common phrase (with some various versions) that many park rangers teach to kids, can help us adults, too. The simple verse is: “red touching black means a friend of Jack, red touching yellow can kill a fellow.” What this means is that if you see a snake where the red and black stripes are touching (the king snake), this means the snake is not poisonous. If the snake has red and yellow stripes that are touching (the coral snake), then it is a poisonous snake.

Another way to tell if a snake is poisonous is to look at the shape of their head and eyes. A pointed, diamond shape head indicates a poisonous snake, while a rounded head indicates the opposite. They eyes of a poisonous snake will have an elliptical, slit shaped pupil, while the non-poisonous variety will have a round pupil.

Snake venom is either hemotoxic or neurotoxic. Hemotoxic venom means it attacks the circulatory system. Neurotoxic means that it attacks the central nervous system.

Here are 4 commonly spotted poisonous snakes in the US:

Coral Snake

The Coral snake is found in the Southern States, even down into south Florida. It has red, yellow, and black bands around the length of its body. They carry a neurotoxic venom.

Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin)

These snakes are found in the waters of the southern and southeastern states. They are strong swimmers and can bite in water or on land. The inside of the mouth is white, and the skin is either black or dark green. It is a very aggressive snake. They carry a hemotoxic venom that can cause gangrene and even death.


The rattlesnake is found in all areas of the US. They live in all types of climates, and carry a very strong hemotoxic venom that can kill. The rattlesnake bite can be considered the most deadly of all the North American snakebites. They will typically coil up and wait for a chance to attack. They are very aggressive.


The copperhead snake is another snake common to the southern states, as well as the Mid West. They kind of have a camouflaged appearance, which makes them blend easily with forest ground cover, or into the bushes of your yard. These snakes are not typically aggressive, but will strike if threatened. They carry a hemotoxic venom as well.

How to Avoid Snakebites

Wear tall rubber boots when walking through deep grass, wading in the water, or walking through the woods. Don’t lie directly down on the ground of the forest floor, tall grasses, or areas by water. I also found a recipe online for a snake repellent that uses a combination of essential oils.

If you are bitten by a snake, you should seek medical attention immediately. It’s also not a bad idea to consider buying a snakebite kit and putting it into your hiking or camping gear, and buying one for your emergency kit, in the event that you are bitten and it is a great distance to get to medical help.

The best defense against snakes is to know your opponent. If you know what snakes to look out for and avoid, that can be a great help! Have you ever encountered a poisonous snake? How did you react?

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About Ms. Prepper

I’m Laura P, aka, Passion Prepper, aka, Storage Prepper! I’ve been homesteading nearly all my life and prepping for the last 6 years. I strongly believe our great country of America was built on self-sufficient families like mine and yours. Politics bores me, learning new stuff, getting outside and living life thrills me.

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