Venomous Snakes – Part 1: Identification

21 May


-Pit vipers are most common type of venomous snake in the US


-Three main groups:

  • Rattlesnakes (genus Crotalus) 
  • Copperheads and Water Mocassins (genus Agkistrodon)
  • Massasauga rattlesnakes (genus Sistrurus)

-Other major venomous snake group are the coral snakes

-Remember: “Red next to Yellow, kill a fellow; red next to black, venom lack



Identification of Pit Vipers in the US

1. Triangle shaped head
-Four major criteria to look for

2. Elliptical pupil

3. Pit midway between eye and nostril on both sides of head

4. Single row of subcaudal plates (as opposed to double row of plates)

Additional things: Fangs and rattles!


(Part 2 – what they do and what to do – coming up tomorrow!)


Submitted by J. Grover. 


References: Rosen’s Emergency Medicine. 7th Edition. CDC website (pictures); crotalus; massasaugua; id1; id2


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