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Snake Identification

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest of the 32 species of rattlesnake currently recognized. They are large, heavy-bodied snakes with large, broad heads with two light lines on the face. Adults are usually 33-72 in (84-183 cm) long, but the largest individual on record was 96 in (244 cm). Mature snakes can tip the scales at over 10 lbs. The background color is brown, tan, or yellowish and covered with the namesake diamonds, which are brown and surrounded by lighter scales. Males are larger than females.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

The Western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) is a heavy bodied snake with a triangular shaped head. There are two dark diagonal lines on each side of its face running from the eyes to its jaws. It has dark diamond-shaped patterns along is back. The tail has black and white bands just above the rattles. This snake ranges in size from 3 to 5 feet long with a few reaching 7 feet long.

Timber Rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnakes, which are called canebrake rattlesnake in the Coastal Plain of the Southeast, are large, heavy bodied snakes with the characteristic rattles on the end of the tail. Adults range from 30-60 in (76-152 cm) with the record being more than 6 feet (183 cm) long. Canebrakes are usually gray and may even have a pink hue and a pinkish, yellow, orange, or brown stripe running the length of the back. Timber rattlers are typically more brown or yellowish and may even be black. Both forms have solid black tails that appear almost velvet and black chevrons on the back and sides with the point of the (V) pointing forward.

Mojave Rattlesnake

A large (up to 1,270 mm or 50" in total length excluding rattle), tan, olive, or gray-brown rattlesnake with a series of dark blotches running down the back. The blotches have dark edges and uniform brown, dark gray, or olive-brown centers. As they near the tail the blotches gradually morph into cross bands. The tail is often pale gray with black, dark gray, or gray-brown rings that are narrower than the space between them. A thin, light colored stripe extends back from the posterior corner of the eye to beyond the corner of the mouth. The pupils are vertically elliptical and the dorsal scales are keeled. The base of the tongue is purple. The neck is slender and the head is broad and triangular.

Cottonmouth

Cottonmouths are venomous semi-aquatic snakes often referred to as “water moccasins.” They have large, triangular heads with a dark line through the eye, elliptical pupils, and large jowls due to the venom glands. They are large – typically 24 - 48 in (61 - 122 cm), occassionally larger, keeled-scaled, heavy-bodied snakes. Their coloration is highly variable: they can be beautifully marked with dark crossbands on a brown and yellow ground color or completely brown or black. Older adults are often dark and solid-colored whereas the juveniles are brightly patterned with a sulphur yellow tail tip that they wiggle to attract prey. The belly typically has dark and brownish-yellow blotches with the underside of the tail being black. As pit-vipers they have facial pits that sense heat and are used to detect prey and predators. Male cottonmouths are larger than females.

Copperhead

Copperheads are fairly large – 24 - 40 in (61 - 102 cm), heavy-bodied snakes with large, triangular heads and elliptical pupils (cat eyes). The body is tan to brown with darker hourglass-shaped crossbands down the length of the body. Individuals from the Coastal Plain often have crossbands that are broken along the center of the back. The head is solid brown, and there are two tiny dots in the center of the top of the head. Juveniles resemble adults but have a bright yellow tail tip. As pit-vipers they have facial pits that sense heat and are used to detect prey and predators. Male copperheads are larger than females.

Coral Snake

 Adult eastern coral snakes are slender, medium sized -- 18-30 in (46-76 cm) -- snakes that may reach almost 4 feet (122 cm) in length. They have smooth scales and the anal plate is usually divided. The most obvious feature of an eastern coral snake is the bright body pattern of red, yellow, and black rings in which the red and yellow rings touch each other. The nose is black. Scarlet kingsnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides) and scarlet snakes (Cemophora coccinea) are superficially similar but the red only touches the black rings. The coral snake is the only eastern species of snake with a pair of fixed fangs in the front of the mouth.

Pygmy Rattlesnake

This small -- 14–22 in (38-56 cm) -- rattlesnake belongs to the genus Sistrurus and is commonly referred to as a pigmy rattler or ground rattler. Unlike the larger rattlesnakes of the genus Crotalus, this species has nine large scales on top of the head and a tiny rattle that can seldom be heard. There are three subspecies of pigmy rattlesnakes, of which two occur in Georgia (Sistrurus miliarius miliarius – the Carolina pigmy rattler and Sistrurus miliarius barbouri – the dusky pigmy rattler). Both subspecies have a row of mid-dorsal spots and a bar than runs from the eye to the base of the mouth, but the color of this bar can vary from black to brownish red. An orange or reddish brown dorsal stripe is also present on both subspecies. In young snakes, the tip of the tail is sulfur yellow and is used for caudal luring. The Carolina pigmy rattler can be gray, tan, or lavender.

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