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"Which is better: to fear all snakes and keep out of danger, or become educated and fear those only that can be harmful to you?" - Bill Haast on the Discovery Channel

There are NO SPECIES OF VENOMOUS SNAKES NATIVE TO RHODE ISLAND. The Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) was once found in Rhode Island, but disappeared over thirty years ago. There are still rattlesnake populations in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix ) are also found in southern New England but have never occurred in Rhode Island. Lastly, although there are many stories about water moccasins in Rhode Island, these tales obviously refer to common Water Snakes, because the real water moccasin, or cottonmouth as it is sometimes known (Agkistrodon piscivorus), is a southern species found no further north than the state of Virginia.

The best rule of thumb is - if you don't know what kind of snake it is - leave it alone.

Non-venomous snakes native to Rhode Island;

Northern Black Racer - Coluber c. constrictor
Eastern Smooth Green Snake - Liochlorophis vernalis
Eastern Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis s. sauritus
Eastern Milk Snake - Lampropeltis t. triangulum
Eastern Garter Snake - Thamnophis s. sirtalis
Northern Brown Snake - Storeria d. dekayi
Eastern Hognose Snake - Heterodon platirhinos
Northern Water Snake - Nerodia s. sipedon
Black Rat Snake - Elaphe o. obsoleta
Northern Ringneck Snake - Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
Eastern Worm Snake - Carphophis a. amoenus
Northern Redbelly Snake - Storeria o. occipitomaculata

A word of caution: If you find a snake, and you do not know whether or not it is venomous, the safest thing to do is leave it alone. Most snakes are not aggressive and, unless they are cornered, most will flee when humans approach. Occasionally, you might encounter one that is reluctant to leave because it is basking in the sun to get warm. Among snakebite victims, an unacceptably high number are bitten on the hands and arms when they are handling the snake. Do not catch a snake and do not handle one unless you are sure it is not venomous. In addition, for a short time after a snake is killed, its reflexes may continue to work. Those reflexes typically cause the body to writhe slowly for a while, but they can cause a convulsive contraction and a bite, so you should not handle a freshly killed venomous snake.
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