Venomous: The Deadliest Snakes in America

Category Camping, Hiking

With the exception of Alaska, every state in the USA has at least one deadly snake inhabiting it. Nearly 8,000 people a year are bitten by venomous snakes in the US each year. Getting bit in the wilderness, away from medical attention and anti-venom, can be a death sentence. All of the advanced outdoor survival skills you’ve learned won’t mean much if you find yourself on the receiving end of a deadly rattlesnake strike. Rattlers are the largest type of venomous snake in the US. They have no specific region and they are spread out all across the country. There are thirteen species of rattlesnake such as the Eastern and Western Diamondback in the United States. Rattlers are most abundant in the southwest near the Mexican border in places like Texas and Arizona but they reside in nearly every state. Rattlesnakes use a neurotoxin which shuts down the immune system of their prey.The rattling sound gives people a chance to flee before they strike and more people die from bee stings in the US than rattlesnake bites.

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake
Rattlesnake

Copperhead

Another deadly American snake is the infamous Copperhead. These deadly reptiles often freeze when startled and are not particularly aggressive. They typically inhabit swamps and forests in eastern states as far west as Texas. Most Copperhead bites are the results of people inadvertently stepping on them. Copperhead venom is a hemotoxin meaning it attacks the red blood cells, breaking down the cell walls. While Copperhead venom isn’t as deadly as people may think, an untreated bite can still be fatal.

Copperhead
Copperhead

Cottonmouth

Possibly the most aggressive of the deadly American snakes is the notorious Cottonmouth which is also known as the Water Moccasin. As their name indicates, they are fond of areas by lakes, ponds and streams. They are isolated to the Southeastern United States and are known for the white lining in their mouths thus the name Cottonmouth. Remember, unlike Rattlers and Copperheads, Water Moccasins are extremely aggressive and will not flee when confronted. The juveniles of this species is brightly colored while the adults are typically black. Like the Copperhead, the moccasin uses hemotoxin. Their venom isn’t as deadly as a Rattlesnake’s but they may be more likely to bite.

Cottonmouth
Cottonmouth

Coral Snake

Last but not least we’ll discuss the dreaded Coral Snake. These deadly reptiles have a color pattern similar to that of the harmless King Snake. The King Snake’s red bands touch it’s black bands while the Coral Snake’s red bands touch the yellow ones There’s an old rule of thumb if red touches black then poison lacks if red touches yellow it’ll kill a fellow. Of the snakes listed in this article only the Coral Snake is not a pit viper. Coral Snakes are also known as elapid snakes and they have two hollow fangs in the front of their mouths connected to venom sacks in their heads. Coral Snakes are very docile and almost always flee when confronted by humans. They inhabit the Southern United States and spend their time wooded or marshy areas. They use a potent neurotoxin which is the among the deadliest in the US though their small fangs make it difficult to deliver a high dosage.

Coral Snake
Coral Snake

Treating a venomous bite in the wild.

The best treatment for a venomous bite is immediate medical attention and anti-venom but if you’re miles away from civilization this is obviously not an option. The prospect of surviving a venomous snake bite on your own is quite grim but there are some things you can do. First off, you’ll want to remain calm because an elevated heart rate will cause the venom to spread faster. It was once believed that making a tourniquet was the first step but a case of a snake bite in Tennessee nearly turned deadly not because of the venom but because the tourniquet was so tight, it lowered the bite victim’s blood pressure to a nearly fatal level. Your snake bite kit should contain a suction kit which can pull venom from the bite wound and keep it from spreading. If your snake bite kit says make a tourniquet and an incision it’s outdated and needs to be replaced. If you’re thinking of going into the wilderness without a snake bite kit, think again. The odds of encountering a venomous snake in the woods are too great to leave it to chance.

Nature’s pest control

Remember venomous snakes keep the numbers of pesky rodents such as rats and mice under control. Without snakes, our cities would be overrun by these fast reproducing nuisances. Snakes eat many rodents before they reach sexual maturity so they never get the chance to reproduce. Respect the boundaries of these deadly hunters and you should be able to avoid an unfortunate confrontation.

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