Snakes be Snakin'
Updated: Dec 27, 2020
A little bit about Snakes in North America.
This by no way will educate you on all the snakes in North America but hopefully the information helps take some fear and misinformation about snakes you may see on Hiking Trail or around your Campsite away. NORTH AMERICA ONLY
Some science stuff.
Snake venom is a glandular secretion which snakes use to immobilize and digest their prey. It's also used as a defensive and a survival tool. This lethal mixture is composed of amino acids, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and peptides. Most everyone will agree vipers, the family that Rattle Snakes, Copperheads and Cottonmouth~aka Water Moccasin fall under, are generally considered to be the most advanced family of snakes since they possess a very sophisticated venom delivery system. Large tubular fangs are placed in the front of the mouth and they are hinged, allowing them to be folded back when not in use. However in North America, three species of Cobra Family are found, two species of Coral Snakes and one Sea Snake (Yellow-bellied sea snake). The Sea Snake is almost helpless on land so should not be confused with water snakes. The Coral Snakes are relatively small Snakes that spend most of their time underground. Their primary food is other snakes. Despite their small size and small fangs, their venom is extremely toxic.
While there are close to one hundred species of Boids ( Boa & Python) worldwide, there are only two species of Boas found in North America, the Rubber Boa and the Rosy Boa, both in the sub-family Eryciniae.
Colubrid snakes are a large family of snakes, there will always be disagreements about classification, especially regarding the numbers and types of subspecies. Most common of this family in North America are Kings, Racers, Whips, Garter and most water Snakes but there are many, many more in this family and are probably the ones you are going to come across most often on your Hike and the misidentification of these are the reason for the unnecessary killing of many of the non venomous snakes. There are a couple of Leptotyphlopids (Blind Snakes) the Texas and Western but they are small, burrowing snakes so not many are seen by Hikers or Campers.
Now some facts:
Snakes don't chase you. If think you are chased by a snake you are probably just in the way of the only escape the snake sees. Most water snakes will act aggressive and make you think they are chasing you but they are non venomous so they have to try to scare you off by acting tough they will bite and you should get it looked at by a doctor because it could get infected or get a Tetanus shot if you haven't had one in a while because of the bacteria in the snakes mouth. I am not a doctor by no means so speak to a doctor if any Snake Bites you.
Snakes native to North America can't eat and average size human so they don't want to waste the venom so they usually avoid people or any large animals.
Most Snake bites are due to stepping on a snake by accident or move things that have been left alone for awhile and the snake is uncovered, caught off guard then strikes out of self defense. Most snakes will warn you, the most well known is the Rattle but other snakes have picked up this trait and will warn by shaking their tail in dry leaves or on something that gets your attention. Even some non venomous Snakes will do this. The best advice is to just go away from any Snake, try not to kill them. Snakes are really needed in the eco system.
Do not try to cut the Snake Bite and suck the venom out ( no matter what anyone's Uncle says). This is not possible in any degree that would help. Cutting around on the bite area will only lead to more damage. Do not put a tourniquet on. This will not help and will lead to only harming yourself. The best thing is to try to stay calm
( I can hear the "yeah right and see the eye roll from here) but try. Keep the bite, if possible, lower than you heart and make your way safely and calmly to the closest emergency room. Or just stay put and call emergency services. Don't be a car wreck fatality trying to get to the emergency room.
Get a field guide on Snakes this will give you very good pictures and what range any Snake inhabits. So if you know where you are going to Hike or Camp this is the best thing to have for identification.
The thing to remember is be aware. Unless your hunting there is no reason to be so quite that the snake doesn't know you are coming and it will already be long gone before you get close.
It's usually by accident that Snake Bites even happen. The bite is usually not fatal in North America due to the availability of anti venoms.
So have fun Hiking and Camping and if you see a snake take some caution and there should be no problems. Just because snakes be snakin' that shouldn't stop you from your good time.
Now go outside you crazy kids and have some FUN!!!