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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 about 45 species and sub species of snakes found in Tennessee, only 5 are venomous and a danger to humans.


There are five species of venomous snakes that inhabit Tennessee. Anyone who lives in or visits Tennessee should make themselves aware of these snakes, and learn how to identify them. Children especially, whom snakes often fascinate, should be made aware of these 5 species. A lot of snakebites occur because people are uniformed about the venomous snakes that inhabit Tennessee, and mistakenly think them harmless. The best rule of thumb is - if you don't know what kind of snake it is - leave it alone.

Southern Copperhead
Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix
Northern Copperhead
Agkistrodon contortrix mokeson
Agkistrodon_ c._mokasen-01.jpg (216105 bytes)  
Western Cottonmouth
Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma
Timber Rattlesnake
Crotalus horridus
horridus-05.JPG (147845 bytes)  
Western Pygmy Rattlesnake
Sistrurus miliarius streckeri
sistrurus_miliarius_streckeri-03.jpg (141554 bytes)
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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