Venomous Snakes in Texas
The state of Texas is home to many snake species, some of them venomous: these include the cottonmouth, the copperhead, the Western rattlesnake, the timber rattlesnake, the blacktail rattlesnake, the Western diamondback rattlesnake, the Massagauga pygmy rattlesnake and the harlequin coral snake.
However, in Texas you can also come across some non-venomous snakes that look similar to their venomous relatives; some of them even emit a rattling sound. Consider the venomous coral snake and the milk snake, which look remarkably alike.
Do you want to learn more about the venomous snakes in Texas? Stay with us at AnimalWised and discover what you should know about these dangerous species!
Are there venomous snakes in Texas?
There are at least 15 potentially dangerous snake species in Texas: however, estimates show that more deaths are attributed to lightning strikes than to snakebites. Outreach by snake experts has ensured that people are aware of how dangerous these snakes can be, and modern first aid and medical practices mean that people are usually treated properly and in time.
Snakes have a critical role to play in the ecosystem, and not all snakes are harmful to humans. However, there are also dangerous types such as the pit vipers or adders, who get their name because they have a pit close to each nostril that allows them to sense the body heat of warm-blooded victims.
There are over 150 pit viper species around the world, with even more subspecies and varieties. The most lethal venomous snakes in Texas are pit vipers, and they include rattlesnakes and moccasin snakes such as the cottonmouth and the copperhead. Coral snakes, on the other hand, are not pit vipers but Elapids, like the cobra. Let's get to know them.
Texas Coral Snake
The Texas coral snake (Micrurus tener) has brightly colored markings that can easily be confused to that of non-venomous species, who have developed them to look more threatening to potential predators and ward them off. If the yellow and red bands touch - not red and black - you are facing a venomous coral snake.
Coral snakes live in soil or within rock burrows, in scrub covered sand hills. They are shy, but their nocturnal habits can create problems for humans. In case a bite does occur, symptoms can develop as paralysis sets in, with slurring of speech, vision issues, and respiratory failure. Bites are rarely lethal, as there is an antivenin available.
Here you can learn more about coral snakes as pets.
Copperhead snakes (Agkistrodon contortrix) are brown, tan or rust-colored with lighter gray, brown or copper bands and patches. They are easily camouflaged by the leaf covered forest ground, and as a result they are dangerous to accidentally come across.
The venom of copperheads is weaker than that of other pit adders, but it can cause secondary infections besides pain and nausea. Copperheads are one of the venomous snakes in Florida as well.
Another of the venomous snakes in Texas is the Western cottonmouth or water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma), which can be found near water, in the ditches, canals, swamps, marshes, ponds and lakes of the eastern and central parts of Texas as well as the Gulf coast.
The Western cottonmouth is a stubby, muscular snake which can grow up to 157 cm (62 in). The inside of its mouth has white shading, hence why it is called a cottonmouth. The older the snake becomes, the darker its coloration is from lighter browns to darker shades as time advances.
When it is attacked, this snake can defend itself using venom. Although it only attacks when threatened, the toxic venom requires medical intervention. These snakes can even bite under water: from swimmers to travelers, everyone in Texas needs to keep an eye out for them.
Rattlesnakes in Texas
Rattlesnakes get their name from the rattle sound they make before striking. They hunt for small prey such as rabbits, rats, and mice. There are at least 9 different rattlesnake species that can be found in Texas, including the following:
- Western massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus), which resides from the Gulf Coast to the western prairie lands. It shares the pygmy rattlesnake's habitat, and it's quite small, is it rarely surpasses 30 in long.
- Timber, canebrake or banded rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), which is situated in eastern Texas. The medium-sized timber rattlesnake or rattler is found in summer forests and rugged terrains. Wide open spaces like rocky ledges are also preferred by this rattler, which feeds on non-poisonous garter snakes in Texas.
- Western or Texas diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox), which resides all over Texas except for the east and the northern panhandle. This is a very heavy snake, and it is the second cause of deaths due to snakebite in the country after its Eastern cousin. Thick brush or foliage are the usual habitats of this dry-area snake.
- Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus), which can be found at the western edge of Texas. This snake is the most venomous rattlesnake species in the region. It lives in the desert of the same name, as well as in semi-grasslands and cactus shrub. Reaching about 1 m (3 ft 3) long on average, its head is triangular and it has green-gray scales with diamond shaped bands in a lighter shade. It is often mistaken for the diamondback rattler.
- Pygmy rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius), is, conversely, the smallest venomous snake in Texas. This semi-water dwelling snake lives along rivers, lakes, streams, marshes, ponds and woodlands. It feeds on its prey using venom, which is usually not enough to kill human beings.
These are just some of the venomous snakes in Texas. Have you ever encountered one? What would you recommend doing? Tell us all in the comments section, and don't miss the following articles:
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