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Learning Center

Snakes

Learn about venomous snakes and how to identify and treat for them with our learning center.

Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus Horridus)

This species of venomous pit viper is found in an abundance of locations in the eastern part of The United States. Here in Pennsylvania, it is the most commonly encountered venomous snake. They grow to be 3-5 feet in length, are heavy-bodied and have a light (yellowish-brown/grayish) and dark (dark brown/black) V-shaped or M-shaped patterning down the length of their bodies. Their tails are a dark, solid brown to black. Their heads make them easily identifiable as they are large, triangular and flat. As with other venomous snakes, the Timber Rattler’s pupils are vertically elliptical. This snake is commonly found in forests along rock formations, crevices and ledges. Good news for Philadelphia, this snake is not found near the big city, so there is little to fear here. Their diet mainly consists of small mammals, other reptiles or birds.

Northern Copperhead (Agkistrodon Contortrix Mokasen)

Growing to an average length of 2-4 feet long and sporting a copper or reddish-brown coloring with darker brown to red-brown hourglass shaped bands on their bodies, that are thick around the sides and thinner along the back. Their heads are triangular, flat and large with vertically elliptical pupils. Young copperheads AKA Neonates are not as boldly colored as the adults and sport a yellow tipped tail. The feared northern copperhead snake may become aggressive if cornered or disturbed. When the northern copperhead becomes alarmed, they sometimes vibrate their tail like a rattle snake, but it does not have a rattle on the end of its tail. If left alone, these snakes are typically lazy and prefer to lie motionless when encountered. They are most commonly seen near rocky wooded hillsides, deciduous forests, farmlands, wooded wetlands and fields. Their diet mainly consists of small mammals such as rodents, other reptiles, birds, amphibians and insects.

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus Catenatus)

In the family of pit vipers, it is rare to actually find one of these as they are on an endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This thick bodied, small snake grows to be a mere 24-30 inches in length. Their color pattern is a grey or tan camouflaged coloring on the body with a row of large, round brownish-black spots down their bodies. They have heat sensing pits on the sides of their heads as well. Depending on the season, they are found in various locations such as shallow wetlands, grasslands or agricultural areas. Their diet consists of small vertebrates including lizards, other snakes, small mammals or even the occasional insect.

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