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What you need to know about these 4 venomous snakes

  • Mar 4, 2017

Fearsome predators deserve plenty of respect on the trail, although run-ins are relatively rare. Smaller animals can be much more dangerous because a single misstep can put you in contact with stinging insects or a lethal reptile.

Snakes in particular cause a tremendous amount of worry, even for outdoor adventurers. And although venomous serpents aren't the most deadly creature in the world, the Washington Post stated that government data suggests snakes kill more Americans each year than do bears, alligators and sharks combined.

That said, the odds of a dangerous run in with a snake on the trail is low, especially when you treat the creatures with respect and know what to look for. Use your PRO TREK PRG600Y-1 to navigate the trail and keep in mind the four most worrisome types of snakes to consider:

1. Rattlesnakes
Rattlesnakes are among the most iconic animals in all of North America, and Outdoorhub stated that 7 of the 10 most dangerous venomous serpents on the continent belong to this group. Members of the viper family, a bite from one of these animals can result in paralysis and serious tissue damage.

Although rattlesnakes are emblematic of the desert regions of the continent, the largest variety is the eastern diamondback, which can grow to eight feet in length. In total, there are 36 total species of rattlesnakes found throughout North America.

Rattlesnakes have round, flat heads and usually some sort of pattern along the body. Perhaps the most recognizable feature is the animal's trademark rattle, a modified bone at the end of its tail that can be used to intimidate any creature that gets too close. Usually the animal will arch its body into an "S" shape to appear larger.

When it comes to rattlesnakes or any other venomous snake, a few common sense rules apply. First, be careful in rocky areas or any other place where snakes could hide, and be mindful of where you put your hands and feet. Next, give any snake you see plenty of space. Even babies can inject venom with a single bite, so never handle a snake you suspect is venomous.

2. Cottonmouth
Although rattlesnakes are quite menacing, Outdoorhub found that the cottonmouth is even more dangerous. Also known as the water moccasin, this animal is a strong swimmer and is found throughout the American South.

Because cottonmouths are aquatic hunters with a knack for stealth, there's no obvious warning like when dealing with rattlesnakes. Thankfully, modern antivenom has made fatal bites from cottonmouths and other snakes much more rare.

3. Copperhead
Along with rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, the copperhead is a type of pit viper and has the same round head and thick body as other members of this family. What makes the copperhead distinct is a deep red-brown coloration that offers perfect camouflage for the forests on the East Coast. This makes an accidental run-in more likely.

Fortunately Copperheads and other venomous snakes can chose to deliver a dry bite. Venom is biologically expensive to make, and often snakes will chose to strike a larger animal simply as a warning.

4. Coral snake
This species is especially tricky because aside from being a reclusive but very powerful animal, the coral snake also has a natural mimic. That can make it difficult to know when you're dealing with a venomous creature.

The milk snake follows the same body pattern as the coral snake, and both animals sport red, yellow and black stripes. Importantly, the venomous coral snake's pattern has red touching yellow, while the harmless milk snake is red touching black.

If you are bitten, seek immediate medical attention. Your best bet, however, is to give coral snakes and any other species plenty of space. Otherwise, enjoy these beautiful animals from afar. 

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