Poisonous Snakes of Georgia

It’s summer time.  This is the time of year folks are getting out and about and spending more time in the country.  We all enjoy getting out and taking walks, cycling, hunting and involving ourselves in various pursuits in the wild.  Of course, part of the reason we enjoy it so much is the opportunity to interact with the abundant nature in our region.  Coming into close contact with nature is a wonderful thing, but also something that should be done with a good sense of what we’re getting ourselves into. 

With everyone getting out to enjoy the countryside, now is a good time to refresh folks on one of the species we should wary of as we enjoy our time outside, the snake.  Most folks tend to get a bit queasy at the thought of running into a snake.  In truth, they shouldn’t be.  Snakes are a necessary, and as it turns out, valuable member of our eco-system.  Without them, we’d be inundated with rats and various other types of unsavory rodents.  Still, snakes should be regarded with care.  All snakes can bite and while very few are poisonous, they should all be treated respect, lest you should accidentally threaten one cause it to bite.

There are 42 species of snake in Georgia.  Of that number, 36 species are not poisonous.  Let me reiterate, NOT poisonous.  The odds are much greater that you’ll see a harmless snake than a potentially dangerous one.  That being said, let’s give a quick guide on the poisonous snakes of Georgia so you’ll have a rough idea of what to look for when you spot a snake in the wild.

First up, the copperhead.

Copperhead Snake

 

The Copperhead is a relatively common snake in our area of Georgia and can be found throughout almost all of Georgia.  This snake tends to be between 22″-53″ in length.  It tends to be copper or almost orange in color with no head markings.  On it’s back it has bold reddish-brown crossbands that constrict in the middle of its back much like the shape od an hourglass.

The copperhead likes wooded hillsides with rocky outcroppings, usually near streams or ponds.  You will also find them along the edges of swamps and areas that are periodically flooded.  They tend to bask during the day in the spring and the fall and tend to become more nocturnal during the heat of the summer.

The primary diet of Copperheads are rodents, lizards, frogs and large insects.

While Copperheads are poisonous and there bites are very painful, they rarely ever pose a serious threat to life.

If you see a Copperhead, please don’t try to handle one, but just because they’re poisonous doesn’t mean they should be shot.  These animals are a beautiful addition to the wonderful eco-system in which we all thrive and perform necessary functions for the environment.  If you see one, enjoy it (from a safe distance) and move on.

If you’re looking for more information on snakes in our region, here are two excellent sites for you to peruse.

UGA Savannah River Ecology Lab:   http://www.uga.edu/srelherp/snakes/index.htm

Southeastern Reptile Rescue:          http://snakesareus.com/home

We’ll continue in the coming days on some of the other species of poisonous snakes in our region. 

 

Ryan Brashear

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About Ryan Brashear

Ryan Brashear has been a licensed REALTOR® for 14 years specializing in land, farm and acreage sales in the CSRA. He is co-owner and Vice President of Brashear Realty Corporation as well as co-owner of Brashear Development Corporation. He has served as a Past President of the Greater Augusta Association of REALTORS® and is currently serving as a Vice President of the Georgia Association of REALTORS®.
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9 Responses to Poisonous Snakes of Georgia

  1. patsy says:

    Can you help me? This morning I found a tiny, maybe 10 inches long snake swimming in my pool. It moved very quickly, swimming away from me when it saw me, I captured it in a net and dumped it in the lake. It was brown with stripes or bands around it. Since it was so small, I could not really tell much more about it. When I dropped it in the lake, it swam over to the rocks of my seawall. I dropped it on my pool deck once and it coiled up and maybe opened its mouth, not sure, but I scooped it up and took it to the lake. Any idea what kind of snake it might have been?

  2. Tice Brashear says:

    Hmmm. There is not much information to go on, but a good guess would be a banded water snake.

    http://www.georgiacountry.com/animals/reptiles/BandedwaterSnake2.jpg

    This snake is fairly common in Georgia. The Brown water snake is not banded as such but has a pattern that might be similiar.

    http://www.georgiacountry.com/animals/reptiles/Brownwatersnake2.jpg

    Both are common water snakes. It could be a water moccasin as well. If so the inside of its mouth should have been white. (Hence the common name of cotton mouth ). Moccasins can also be distinguished by the fact that they tend to swim with their body on top of the water rather than in the water.

    I hope this helps

  3. sherilyncarr says:

    Today in North GA I saw a black snake with yellow markings (not really stripes), down the entire body. Is this poisonous?

  4. Gena Shock says:

    My daughter and I walk a trail at the Bay Creek Park in Grayson, Gwinnett County Ga. After a brief rain that afternoon we walked at 7:30 p.m. The trail is heavily wooded and a small run off man made creek runs along the trail. Recently as we were walking up the backside of the trail in the wooded area, we had a a 3ft light rust colored snake with large triangle shapes on its back and small white dots that lined the triangles cross our path on the trail. From my research I believe it to be a copper head. I wondered if this is a correct assumption. Thankyou

  5. It sounds like you have the right culprit. Copperheads are normally not large snakes by pit viper standards. 3 feet would be about normal size for an adult.

    Here is a picture of a Copperhead. http://www.georgiacountry.com/animals/reptiles/Copperhead.jpg

    It could also be a non venomous corn snake, but I doubt it. http://www.georgiacountry.com/animals/reptiles/CornSnake.jpg

    Hope this helps.

    Tice Brashear

  6. It sounds like you have made the correct identification. The snake should have looked like:
    http://www.georgiacountry.com/animals/reptiles/Copperhead.jpg

    A somewhat similiar snake might be the non venomous corn snake
    http://www.georgiacountry.com/animals/reptiles/CornSnake.jpg

    I hope this helps.

    Tice Brashear

  7. Christy says:

    The other day we found a large poisonous snake outside our house. It was dark green/brown with dark black bands around it. My husband said it was a copperhead. Which is very common in our area.

    The day after we found a small reddish orange snake with brown bands around it’s body inside our house. My husband said it a poisonous snake but I would like to know what kind of snake it was. Is their also anyway to keep these snake away from the house and prevent them getting inside the house. Any information would be greatly appreciated. I took a picture of it so if you need me to send it to you let me know

  8. Hi Cristy,

    I don’t know of any poisonous snakes in the US that have green as a primary color. Copperheads are usually different shades of rust color. I don’t recognize the second snake by description but if you send me the photo I will attempt to identify it. Snakes, like all animals tend to adapt to habitats that have the essentials of life, namely food and water. Although there are some snake “repellents”, I doubt their efficacy. Keeping down populations of mice, rats, frogs, and other small creatures in your yard can help. If you live near good sources of their food, it will be hard to eliminate them.

    Tice

  9. Jean says:

    We put the dachshund out to go to the bathroom. My husband saw a large black snake, the dog went for it….apparently was bitten a couple of times. She died 9 hours later…her skin turned black, hair fell out around area. She was like semi-conscious all day, just breathing slowly but deeply. She did bleed profusely from the area (a black blood blister type thing came up and burst). She was quiet, did not moan or whimper – was she in pain ? Used the bathroom twice and last time rectum appeared to have blood in it…what kind of snake could it have been. I live on a congested corner. Where could this snake come from and it is possibly under my house as that is where the dog chased it to. What should I do and is there a possibility the snake will get into the house ?

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