Snakes of Ohio: Identifying 3 venomous species

Snakes of Ohio: Identifying 3 venomous species

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Here's something most Ohioans probably don't know. There are many snake species in the state - and three of them are venomous.

Those three are: The Northern Copperhead, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, and the Eastern Timber Rattlesnake. Of these three, the Eastern Timber Rattlesnake and Eastern Massasauga are considered endangered in the state of Ohio.

The Northern Copperhead

This species has bitten more people in the U.S. than any other venomous snake, but there have been very few deaths as a result of their bite. They are usually found in rocky or wooded areas and can reach anywhere from two to three feet long. They are active during the day in spring and fall, but come out at night during the warm summer months. Their coloration is very distinct and consists of orange, pink, brown, and salmon arranged in hour-glass shapes along the back. They range from Hamilton county all the way into eastern Ohio.

The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

This snake gets its name from the Chippewa language meaning "great river mouth." They inhabit mostly swamps and wetlands, usually in river mouths. It is also known as the "swamp rattler."  They are dark in color with black stripes, have a very stocky body, and a very small rattle on the tip of the tail. Unless very agitated, this snake rarely attempts to bite. The venom however, is very toxic. A healthy adult will rarely die from the bite because its teeth are too small to inject enough venom to do any damage. Regardless, if bitten seek immediate medical care. Adult snakes reach anywhere from 20 to 30 inches in length and they are generally active during the day on mild days. During the summer they are active during the night. They range from Preble, Montgomery, Greene, and Fayette counties to the north and east. In 1996, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources placed the Massasauga Rattlesnake on Ohio's endangered species list.

The Eastern Timber Rattlesnake

These are one of the most venomous snakes in the eastern U.S., but bites are uncommon. It is usually a calm snake and would rather move away from you than strike. If provoked however, it will rattle the tip of its tail in warning before striking. It is best to give this snake a wide berth if encountered, because rattlesnakes can strike up to 1/3 to 1/2 of their body length. This snake is usually found in dry, wooded, hilly terrain. Adults can reach from three to five feet in length and are active during the day in the spring and fall, and at night during the summer months. Their coloration is yellowish or brown and gets darker toward the end of its tail. There is a distinct chevron design along its body and a rattle at the end of the tail. They range from Adams County to the east.  Eastern Timber Rattlesnakes are on Ohio's Endangered Species list and numbers of these snakes in Ohio are relatively low.

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