Summer is in full swing, and with summer comes hiking!!! (among other outdoor activities, of course) You know who else loves summer, though? Snakes! Learn how to tell if a snake is poisonous so you can frolic safely.
How NOT to tell if a snake is venomous
You’ve probably seen this chart floating around:
Granted, this is useful for identifying rattlesnakes and other vipers (though I’m not sure about the subcaudal scales). But in terms of identifying venomous snakes in general, it’s bogus.
There are several snakes with round eyes and oval heads that are actually extremely venomous.
- For example: the black mamba
- Another example: the king cobra
And there are lots of snakes with slit pupils that aren’t venomous at all.
And then there’s the snakes that look evil and like they should be crazy deadly, but NOPE.
You get the idea.
How to tell if a snake is poisonous…I mean venomous
1) Is it a viper?
All vipers are venomous, so if you can identify one, you’re in good shape.
- triangular head
- fat/stocky body
- rough scales
2) Know the snakes in your area.
I know. Research. Lame. But because snakes are diverse and beautiful, it’s really hard to create a general rule for identifying which ones are venomous. All it takes is a quick Google search to find names and pictures of the snakes to look out for in your part of the world. If you’re in Australia…I’m sorry.
As a final note, please enjoy this cartoon about the difference between venomous and poisonous. Because THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS “POISONOUS” SNAKES. Learn the difference and impress your friends!