Venomous Snakes in Tennessee. In this post, I’ll walk you through the top four venomous snakes in Tennessee, learn about their characteristics, habitats, venom potency, and crucial safety tips to stay protected. Increase your knowledge and awareness of these venomous snakes found in Tennessee and how to coexist responsibly with them.
Overview of Venomous Snake Species Found In Tennessee
Tennessee is home to a rich diversity of snake species, encompassing both venomous and non-venomous varieties. But non-venomous snakes are commonly found here including the Eastern Garter Snake, Black Rat Snake, Eastern Kingsnake. On the other hand, there are four well-known venomous snakes such as the Copperhead, Timber Rattlesnake, Western Cottonmouth, and occasionally the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. Of course, in this post we’ll discover in-depth some distinct features to identify most venomous snakes from their non-venomous cousins.
The Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) has a distinctive appearance, with a tan or coppery brown color and dark hourglass-shaped crossbands. Copperheads are distributed throughout the state, favoring forested areas, rocky hillsides, and proximity to water sources. These snakes are ambush predators, relying on camouflage to capture small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.
While Copperhead venom is potent, their bites are rarely fatal to humans. Symptoms of a bite include pain, swelling, and discoloration around the wound. Immediate medical attention is essential after a Copperhead bite to minimize complications. To stay safe, exercise caution in known Copperhead habitats and seek medical help promptly if bitten.
The Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is specially known for its size and distinctive features. Growing up to 4 to 5 feet long, it has dark brown or black bands along its body and a prominent rattling tail. Timber Rattlesnakes are found mostly in East Tennessee, preferring rocky outcrops and forested areas. They are ambush predators, patiently waiting for small mammals and birds to approach. Their venom is potent, and a bite can result in immediate pain, swelling, and bruising. You should seek immediate medical attention if bitten, as symptoms can include nausea, weakness, and difficulty breathing. Caution and staying on designated trails can minimize its encounters
The Western Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma) is commonly known as the water moccasin and possesses distinctive physical characteristics. Adult Western Cottonmouths can grow up to 4 feet in length, with a thick body and a dark, almost black coloration. They have a broad, triangular-shaped head and distinctive white or yellowish mouth lining, which is displayed as a warning signal when threatened.
In Tennessee, the Western Cottonmouth is distributed primarily in the western and southwestern parts of the state, favoring wetland areas, marshes, and bodies of water like streams and swamps.
The Western Cottonmouth is a semi-aquatic snake that exhibits both terrestrial and aquatic behaviors. It is a competent swimmer and often basks near the water’s edge. As an opportunistic predator, it feeds on fish, amphibians, small mammals, and other reptiles. While generally docile, Western Cottonmouths may become aggressive when provoked or cornered.
Their venom is potent and primarily affects tissues and blood clotting. If bitten, symptoms include severe pain, swelling, and tissue damage. To stay safe, avoid approaching or handling Western Cottonmouths, wear appropriate footwear near water sources, and seek immediate medical help if bitten.
The Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)
It is a small rattlesnake, typically measuring around 1 to 2 feet in length. The Pygmy Rattlesnake has a gray or light brown coloration with a series of dark blotches running down its body. The Pygmy Rattlesnake is distributed across the state, favoring a variety of habitats including forests, fields, and wetlands.
This snake spends much of its time hidden under leaf litter or in dense vegetation, using its camouflage to blend in with its surroundings. It feeds on small rodents, frogs, lizards, and insects. While generally shy, the Pygmy Rattlesnake may defend itself if threatened or cornered.
The venom of the Pygmy Rattlesnake is potent, but its bites are rarely life-threatening to humans. Symptoms of a bite may include immediate pain, swelling, and localized tissue damage. Seeking medical attention is important if bitten, as antivenom and proper wound care can be administered.
To reduce the risk of encounters with Pygmy Rattlesnakes, it is advised to watch where you step or place your hands, especially in areas with dense vegetation. Wearing protective footwear and using caution in their habitats can further minimize the risk. In the event of a bite, staying calm, immobilizing the affected limb, and seeking immediate medical assistance are crucial steps for proper first aid.
Venomous Snake Encounters and Prevention
Venomous snake encounters can be a concern in areas where these reptiles are prevalent, such as Tennessee. Prevention and awareness play crucial roles in minimizing the risk of snakebite incidents. When venturing into snake habitats, it is important to stay on designated trails and avoid tall grass, brush, or rock piles where snakes may be hiding. Wearing sturdy footwear and long pants can provide an additional layer of protection. Being vigilant and observant of the surroundings, especially when hiking or camping, can help identify any potential snake presence.
Remember that snakes are generally more active during warmer months, so exercising increased caution during these times is advisable. If a venomous snake is encountered, it is essential to maintain a safe distance and avoid any unnecessary provocation. Educating oneself and others about local venomous snake species, their habitats, and identifying characteristics can enhance preparedness and reduce the likelihood of snakebite incidents.
Are there many people bitten by these venomous snakes?
The exact number can vary from year to year, but around 50 snake bites are reported in Tennessee every year coming mostly from Copperhead.
However, the snakes typically avoid human contact and bites often happen when humans unintentionally disturb or provoke them. The Tennessee Poison Control Center and local medical facilities are equipped to handle snakebite cases, ensuring appropriate medical care, including access to antivenom
FAQs about Venomous Snakes In Tennessee
How can I minimize the risk of encountering venomous snakes in Tennessee?
To minimize the risk of encountering venomous snakes, stay on designated trails when hiking, avoid tall grass, brush, or rock piles where snakes may hide, and be cautious near water sources. Wearing protective footwear and long pants can provide added protection. Educating yourself about local snake species and their habitats can also help you make informed decisions while exploring Tennessee’s natural areas.
Are snakes a problem in Tennessee?
No, snakes are on the lookout in Tennessee. There are 32 snake species found in the state, but only four of the snakes above are venomous.
Conclusion: Venomous Snakes in Tennessee
To wrap up, Tennessee is home to a diverse array of snake species, including several venomous ones. While encounters with venomous snakes are relatively rare, it is important to be aware of their presence and take necessary precautions when exploring natural areas.
By staying informed about the types of venomous snakes found in Tennessee, understanding their habitats and behaviors, and practicing safety measures, the risk of snakebite incidents can be minimized. Follow Venomous Snakes for more useful and intriguing information.