The following characteristics can be used to identify a snake:
- Body Shape
- Head & Neck Shape
- Color & Pattern
- Scales Texture
- Eye Pupil Shape
- Scales Beneath the Tail
The first thing you should do when trying to identify a snake is to identify the length of the snake. Most snakes in the United States grow 7 inches to 6 feet in length, but some can grow larger. The size of the snake varies upon what type species they are. Try to categorize the snake into three sizes, Small (ranges from 7″ to 18″), Medium (ranges from 18″ to 3′, and Large (ranges from 3′ and over).
Another thing you should when trying to identify a snake, is to consider what type of body shape the snake has. A snakes body changes from head to tail, so try to decide if the snake is Slender (appears skinny), Typical (appears medium sized), or Stout (thick and heavy bodied). Many times a snakes body shape may be hard to identify. It depends upon state of the snake when you find it. Since snakes swallow their meals whole, their body shape may change after eating, causing a slender snake to look much like a stout snake. A snakes body shape is very important to identify the species of that snake.
Head & Neck Shape
The head and neck shape is an important role of identifying a snake. A snake can be Medium Headed (appears slightly bigger than the neck), a Broad Headed (appears much larger than the neck), or it can appear to have No Neck (appears as the head and neck are the same width).
Snakes have either a Rounded Head (can appear completely rounded or slightly rounded) or a Triangular Head (appears to have a diamond/triangular shaped head). Many people think that venomous snakes have triangular heads, and the non-venomous snakes have rounded heads, this isn’t true. Though most venomous snakes have triagular heads some do not, and many non-venomous species have triagular head.
Color & Pattern
Snakes have many different colors and patterns. That’s why this is important to know the snakes color and patterns when identifying a snake. Here are the patterns of snakes: Linear Multicolored, Banded, Colored Head, Spotted, Striped, Blotched, or appear to have No Pattern?
The scale texture on a snake can be Smooth (normally appears to be shiny and rounded) or Keeled (normally appears not to be shiny and diamond shaped). Some snakes keeled scales are weakly (normally appears slightly shiny and slightly diamond shaped).
Eye Pupil Shape
If you can see the snakes pupil without getting too close to the snake, distinguish if the snake has cat-like Vertical Pupils or Rounded Pupils. In United States you can determine if the snake is venomous by the eyes. The venomous snakes have elliptical pupils while the non-venomous snakes have rounded pupils, except for the venomous Coral Snake which has rounded pupils, and a few species of non-venomous snakes.
To identify a Snake that you saw. Click one of the links below. This is for snakes in Eastern United States
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April 13 2007 03:20 am