Venomous Snakes in Tennessee?

When it’s time to head outside and enjoy the sunny, warm summer skies of East Tennessee — it’s good to know what kind of wildlife is out there in the many popular outdoor attractions.

Locally, East Tennessee has 23 of those snake species that are frequently found in the area, two of which are venomous (If you ask some, though, they’ll swear up and down there’s a third — we’ll get to that in a minute). The venomous snakes here have distinct features such as heat sensing pits behind their nostrils and eyes with vertical pupils.

It doesn’t help that the Northern Watersnake has identifying features very similar to venomous snakes, particularly when it flattens its head and body to look more threatening. The key to telling them apart is the lack of the heat sensing pits and its eyes, as watersnakes will have round pupils. Do not attempt to catch, handle or kill them — as antagonizing snakes will prompt them to strike out of defense.

The copperhead is likely the one venomous snake many people have encountered at some point in their lives, and they thrive in East Tennessee. It tends to live in remote wooded areas around the mountains and stream corridors, and the TWRA said it’s common to find them coiled up near fallen logs or sunning itself on rocks. However, it’s also very shy when it comes to humans and tends to avoid contact whenever possible, plus it gives plenty of warning with its rattle before it attempts to strike.

Often confused with a number of watersnakes, the cottonmouth has a thick body with generally a bland gray/brownish color and dark crossbands that may not be visible.

What is the most venomous snake in Tennessee?

The Timber Rattlesnake is is the largest, and the most dangerous, of the 4 venomous snakes in Tennessee; it occurs across the state. Description: A large, heavy-bodied snake (36.0 to 60.0 inches in length) with a large, triangular head, vertical pupils, and the characteristic rattle at the end of the tail.

What are the 4 poisonous snakes in Tennessee?

There are more than thirty species of snakes in Tennessee and most are beneficial to the environment. However, there are four venomous snakes to watch out for: Timber Rattlesnake, Pygmy Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth, and Copperhead. According to the TWRA, it is illegal to kill or capture any snake.

How many venomous snakes live in Tennessee?

There are four venomous snakes in Tennessee, and the copperhead is one of them, along with a water moccasin and a couple of rattle snakes.

Are venomous snakes common in Tennessee?

There are only two types of venomous snakes found in East Tennessee and on the northern Cumberland Plateau: the timber rattler and the copperhead. Both can cause serious injury or death, but neither are aggressive and only bite when threatened.

When most people see a snake the first question they ask is Is it poisonous? Technically snakes are classed as venomous or non-venomous, since poison is ingested or absorbed and a venom is injected. But identifying venomous snakes in Tennessee is relatively easy since they all belong to the pit viper family. To see a list of Tennessees snakes click here. Below are some tips to help distinguish between venomous and non-venomous species in Tennessee.

Generally shy and lethargic, they prefer retreat to encounters, but when disturbed they will often vibrate the tail, making a rattling noise when in old leaves.

Snakes. There is perhaps no wild animal that strikes more fear in the hearts of humans than these misunderstood, legless creatures that slither along the forest floor.

One of the reasons for the confusion: Some water snakes found on the Cumberland Plateau, which are completely harmless, bear a strong resemblance to cottonmouths. There are only two types of venomous snakes found in East Tennessee and on the northern Cumberland Plateau: the timber rattler and the copperhead.

Juvenile copperheads look much like their adult counterparts, except their tails have a bright yellow tip, which they wiggle to lure prey to within striking distance. However, it typically has three light stripes, which can be white, yellow, blue, brown or green and run the length of the snakes body. Red-bellied snakes eat slugs, snails, earthworms and other soft insects, and are usually found in moist woodland areas, under leaf litter, inside rotten logs or beneath rocks.

It is a medium-sized snake that can grow up to two feet in length, with a creamy white or pale yellow stripe along the lower sides of its body. However, if youre close enough to examine the snake, youll notice its lack of a triangular head, slanted pupils or facial pits. It is found throughout Tennessee and is a shiny black constrictor that can grow up to four feet in length with yellow or white bands or speckles.

The hog-nosed snake prefers sandy or loose soil for burrowing, and can be found around farms, old fields, open woods and rocky hillsides in other words, just about anywhere. The gray rat snake lives in a variety of habitats, but prefers woodlands, field edges and can often be found around farms or near streams. Its a small snake, reaching up to 15 inches in length, with a black or dark grey body and a distinctive yellow or orange band around its neck.

Ring-necked snakes prefer moist areas and spend much of their time underground or hidden beneath logs, rocks or leaf litter. These are secretive snakes that often remain hidden, but theyre so common that theyre seen fairly often, especially when moving piles of cinderblocks, sheet tin and other items that trap moisture and create good hiding places. The black racer is usually found in open areas, such as old fields, pastures and forest edges, and theyre known for their ability to speed away from the threat of harm.

Wormsnakes prefer to hide out under rocks, old logs, leaf litter or other debris, and are usually found in hardwood forests. He collapsed and died within 15 minutes of being bitten, but it was reported that he may have had an undisclosed medical condition which contributed to the severity of his reaction to the bite. These ineffective treatments can cause a more concentrated reaction from the venom, which can require amputation or result in disfigurement, and it can also waste precious time when medical attention could be sought.

Venomous Snakes of Tennessee

East Tennessee has two of those species native to the area: The copperhead and the timber rattlesnake.Quite a few would also say they’ve spotted the cottonmouth (also known as the water moccasin) swimming in the rivers and lakes of East Tennessee, however, cottonmouths are only found on the western end of the state.The reason for the confusion is because the cottonmouth is frequently misidentified for one of the many non-venomous water-dwelling snakes in the area — particularly the Northern Watersnake which is abundant and widespread in the area.It doesn’t help that the Northern Watersnake has identifying features very similar to venomous snakes, particularly when it flattens its head and body to look more threatening. The key to telling them apart is the lack of the heat sensing pits and its eyes, as watersnakes will have round pupils. See for yourself:If you find yourself face-to-face with a snake you believe is venomous, all you need to do is walk away and put distance from yourself and it. Do not attempt to catch, handle or kill them — as antagonizing snakes will prompt them to strike out of defense. Even if you think the snake is dead, never try to handle or pick it up.To avoid being bitten accidentally, you should stay alert when hiking and stay on paths or clearings to avoid tall, grassy areas. If you’re out working in the woods, make it a habit to check for snakes before picking up rocks or wood, particularly around fallen logs where timber rattlesnakes like to dwell.If you are bitten by a snake in Tennessee, you need not worry about trying to identify the snake according to the Tennessee Herpetological Society — as the anti-venom needed is all the same for snakes across the state. Simply stay calm, call 911 if possible and head to the closest hospital.

The Copperhead

The copperhead is likely the one venomous snake many people have encountered at some point in their lives, and they thrive in East Tennessee.They prefer forested areas and place where they can find lots of cover, and people that live on the edge of wetlands and streams may find them to be a frightening nuisance that slithers in their yards.The snake varies in color, but is usually light brown or gray with dark brown “hourglass” crossbands.Despite being commonly reported in neighborhoods, the snakes are generally shy like most snakes. As far as venom goes, they are rarely fatal as the least venomous snake of Tennessee‘s venomous four — and the snake accounts for the fewest deaths in the area.

The Timber Rattlesnake

The Timber Rattlesnake is the only rattlesnake that can be found in East Tennessee.It tends to live in remote wooded areas around the mountains and stream corridors, and the TWRA said it’s common to find them coiled up near fallen logs or sunning itself on rocks.It’s color is highly variable, but the TWRA said it’s often a shade of gray with a black tail. It has distinct black chevron-shaped crossbands down its body and of course carries the characteristic rattle.Of Tennessee‘s four venomous snakes, it’s the largest and most dangerous. It’s considered to have one of the most potent bites of any venomous snake in North America due to its long fangs and high venom yield.However, it’s also very shy when it comes to humans and tends to avoid contact whenever possible, plus it gives plenty of warning with its rattle before it attempts to strike.

The Cottonmouth

The cottonmouth is found across Western Tennessee and a few isolated spots in Central Tennessee.Often confused with a number of watersnakes, the cottonmouth has a thick body with generally a bland gray/brownish color and dark crossbands that may not be visible. A white upper lip might be noticeable as well.The snakes are commonly found in aquatic habitats, but their aggressive nature is exaggerated according to the TWRA. They tend to flee when encountered, though they escape in random directions which means they sometimes escape toward you rather than away.Their venom is potent, but they rarely bite unless they are directly threatened. So long as you don’t attempt to capture or harass them, cottonmouths pose little threat to humans.