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How to Identify a Venomous Snake

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

There are some places where it may be hard to tell venomous snakes from non-venomous snakes, but here in Colorado, it’s easy. There are only a few venomous snakes around. (Two, three, or four depending on the source. Reports vary because there are disagreements about the ranges of snakes that rely on field identification reports, often by amateurs whose IDs can be suspect.) All venomous snakes in Colorado are rattlesnakes, and so share six characteristics that can distinguish them from nonvenomous snakes.

Distinguishing Rattlers from Other Snakes

If you spot a snake, look for one of these six characteristics that distinguish rattlesnakes from other types:

  • Rattles on the end of their tail

  • Fangs (hopefully you don’t see these, because if you do, you’ve made the snake really mad and it’s likely to strike!)

  • Facial pits between the nostrils and eyes. Rattlesnakes are a type of pit viper. These pits allow them to sense heat from their favorite prey—small mammals.

  • Vertical and elliptical pupils that turn into thin lines in bright light. Nonvenomous snakes have round pupils.

  • A single row of scales between the vent (cloaca) and the end of the tail. (If you’re not sure whether a snake is venomous or not, please don’t pick it up to try this ID method!)

  • Broad triangular head

These methods can generally be used to help you identify a snake as venomous or nonvenomous no matter what part of the body you saw. And, hopefully, will let you quickly tell whether a snake is dangerous or not.

Dangerous or Not, You Might Not Want It Around

Although venomous snakes are rare in Colorado, people are often very happy to have snakes removed. Although snakes are generally considered beneficial, people find them unpleasant and would rather have them relocated.

Animal Pest Control Specialists can remove any type of snake and help educate you on how to change your property to make it less snake-friendly so they don’t come back.

To have a snake removed from your property in the Denver area, from Boulder to Castle Rock, please contact Animal & Pest Control Specialist today.

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