Venomous Snakes of Ohio
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Ohio has only three species of venomous snakes, two of which have rattles at the end of the tail (Eastern Massasauga (pictured right) & Timber Rattlesnake). The third species is the Northern copperhead. Although many believe the water moccasin occurs in Ohio, it actually ranges no farther north than the Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia in the eastern portion of its range, and extreme southern Indiana and Illinois, in the western part of its range. Water moccasins are not native to Ohio.
Nonvenomous snakes Venomous snakes
1. Head usually oval, but may be somewhat triangular.
2. Pupils round.
3. No pits-only nostrils present.
4. Divided scales on underside of tail
5. Although many snakes vibrate their tail when upset, nonvenomous snakes never have rattles
1. Head distinctly triangular.
2. Pupils elliptical.
3. Pits as well as nostrils present.
4. Undivided scales on underside of tail.
5. Except for the copperhead, tail ends in a rattle.
The heat sensitive pits in front of and below each eye of Ohio’s three venomous snakes are capable of detecting extremely small increases in air temperature some distance from the snake’s face. For that reason,one must exercise caution when climbing rocks or slopes in areas where venomous snakes occur. An average of five to 15 people die of snakebites annually in the United States.Considerably more people are killed by lightning.
Anyone bitten by a venomous snake will soon know it. Moderate symptoms will include mild swelling, discoloration, and pain at the wound site, and may also include general tingling, weakness, rapid pulse, dimness of vision, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath. Severe symptoms include rapid swelling and numbness.severe pain at the wound site; there may also be pinpoint-size pupils, facial twitching, slurred speech, convulsions, paralysis, andloss of consciousness. (Northern Copperhead pictured right)
Begin first aid treatment by keeping the victim calm and immobile, preferably lying down. Immobilize the bitten limb at or below heart level.If the victim is able to get to a hospital within four or five hours –and no symptoms develop –no more first aid is necessary.
For moderate symptoms, apply a band three-fourths to one-and-a- half inches wide to the limb, two to four inches above the wound (but not around a joint or on the head,neck,or trunk). Make it snug, but loose enough so you can slip a finger under it. Check the victim ’s pulse beyond the band periodically to be sure blood is flowing past the band.Loosen the band if it becomes too tight. Most people who die of snakebite today die because they didn ’t seek medical help or delayed too long in going to the hospital. (Timber Rattlesnake pictured right)
Preventive medicine is the best method for dealing with snakebites. Learn how to distinguish venomous from nonvenomous snakes (see diagram at top) and learn where to find –and therefore how to avoid –the venomous ones.
Read more about Ohio's Venomous Snakes: