snakes1 300WESTERN Ky. (5/16/13) – As summer approaches and more people are enjoying the outdoors, it is important to know what you are looking for, in case you come across a venomous snake.
 
According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, of the 32 species that live in Kentucky, only four are venomous. Ranging in sizes, some are slender and masters of camouflaging themselves, while others display vibrant colors. These snakes can be found living anywhere, from your backyard to deep inside the woods. Depending on their diet, some species may eat mice, birds, insects, toads and even other snakes. Despite their bad reputation, snakes can be very beneficial to our environment. Not only do they eat what we would consider pests, but they are also widely used in medical research.
 
Kentucky’s four most venomous snakes are the Copperhead, Western Cottonmouth, Timber Rattlesnake, and Western Pigmy Rattlesnake. When first encountering a snake, especially if you are not familiar with them can be a little tricky. However, there are ways to be able to distinguish between venomous and nonvenomous snakes.
 
All venomous snakes belong to a group called ‘Pit Vipers.’ This reference comes from the small pit-like opening located on each side of the head between the eye and nostril. Venomous snakes also have vertical pupils, whereas nonvenomous snakes are round. On a venomous snake, the scales underneath the tail will be in a single undivided row instead of a few distinct rows a nonvenomous snake would have. Venomous snakes also bare live young, therefore, any eggs that are encountered, are not venomous. There are other techniques such as; triangle head shape and a vibrating tail. The problem with that is some nonvenomous snakes are also able to imitate that characteristic (flatting their heads to make a triangle-shape) and rattlesnakes aren’t the only snakes that can vibrate their tails when they become alarmed.
 
Copperheads can average in length, from 8-40 inches and vary in general coloration from a reddish brown (coppery-red) to brown. One of the best ways to identify them is by the chestnut cross bands that are wide on the sides of the body and narrower across the back. Copperheads mate in the spring and their young is born live in late summer early fall. Copperheads are commonly known to live all across the state of Kentucky but have been seen more frequently in the western parts of Kentucky in places closest to water.
 
The Western Cottonmouth can average in length, from 8-46 inches and are typically a dark heavy-bodied snake. With the lack of obvious markings, it can make identifying this snake in a field a little harder, but a cottonmouth will often stand its ground in an open-mouth threat, that reveals the whitish interior of the mouth. Cottonmouths do have a scale above their eyes that slightly sticks out and almost always swims with its head completely out of the water. Cottonmouths have a limited distribution in Kentucky and are mostly found in the western part of Kentucky in or around water.
 
The Timber Rattlesnake can average in length, from 8-60 inches and is the state’s largest venomous snake. It too, is a heavy-bodied snake with dark and sometimes V-shaped cross bands on a gray, brown, yellow or greenish background. An obvious characteristic is the rattle on the tip of the tail. Timber Rattlesnakes typically do not rattle their tails unless they feel provoked. This species is mostly found in wooded areas of Kentucky. They mostly prefer south and southwestern parts that face slopes with rocky outcrops and bluffs. These snakes are very secretive, nonaggressive and their main defense is to lay motionless on the ground, relying on their color pattern to camouflage them. Timber Rattlesnakes are also long-lived and can survive up to 25 years in the wild. However, these snakes are undergoing a severe population decrease throughout their range. Kentucky is one of the few states that there is a healthy population of Timber Rattlesnakes.
 
The Western Pigmy Rattlesnake can average in length, from 5-20 inches and are a light grayish brown with dark spots on its back. It also has a faint “rusty” stripe that appears down its back and a skinny tail with a very small rattle that sounds like insect buzzing. These snakes also have a limited distribution in Kentucky and are mostly known to reside in parts of Calloway, Trigg and Lyons Counties. There isn’t much known about their habits, but they are also known to live near the water and feed off small rodents and small snakes.
 
Although snake bites are very rare, if you happen to be one of the unlucky few to get bitten, remain calm and seek professional medical care as quickly as possible.
 
For more information about Kentucky snakes, you can visit the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources at http://www.fw.ky.gov.
 
Amber Mena
SurfKY News

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

BMS Eighth Grader Advances to National History Bee Finals

BENTON, Ky. (3/30/15) — Benton Middle School eighth grader, Brady Guess competed in the Regional History Bee… Read More

Col. Stephen Trigg Chapter in Cadiz Honors 22 Vietnam Veterans on 'Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day'

KENTUCKY (3/30/15) — On Sunday afternoon the Compatriots of the Col. Stephen Trigg Chapter honored 22 veterans of the… Read More

Most Read This Week

March 27, 2015 6107

Three Arrested during Execution of Search…

by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
March 25, 2015 5565

Fazoli's, Roses Coming to Madisonville

by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
March 24, 2015 5269

One Dies, Another Injured in Mortons Gap Traffic…

by Deputy Heath Owens
March 25, 2015 5212

Grand Jury Finds No Criminal Wrongdoing in Bean…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
March 30, 2015 4919

Man Charged with Child Abuse After Allegedly…

by Madisonville Police Department
March 24, 2015 4349

UPDATE: One Injured in Hopkinsville Road Accident

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

March 09, 2015 14267

Multi-Agency Drug Bust Results in $1 Million Meth…

by KSP DESI
March 02, 2015 11709

Madisonville Teen Faces Numerous Drug Charges

by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center

Stories Trending Today

March 31, 2015 2162

Man Charged for Driving While under Influence of…

by Madisonville Police Department
March 31, 2015 1340

Happenings and Meetings - Hopkins County

by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
March 31, 2015 1294

Covenant Community Church Hosts Annual…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 31, 2015 1039

Hopkins County Misdemeanor Indictments

by Karen McKnight
March 31, 2015 1003

Madisonville Police Reports Released - March 31,…

by Madisonville Police Department
March 31, 2015 731

Glema Center April Schedule Features Jo Dee…

by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
March 30, 2015 672

Members from Madisonville Police, Hopkinsville…

by Abbie Darst
March 31, 2015 434

Baptist Health Madisonville Upgrades Technology…

by Baptist Health
March 31, 2015 429

KSP Charges Henderson County Man with Possession…

by Kentucky State Police
March 31, 2015 413

United Way Honors Organizations, Businesses,…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News