How to Identify the Snakes of West Tennessee

How to Identify the Snakes of West Tennessee
The state of Tennessee is home to 32 different species of snakes, of which four are poisonous. Unfortunately, all four reside in the western part of the state. While venomous snakes are infrequently encountered by humans, and bites are even more rare, it is important for those looking to engage in outdoor activities in West Tennessee to be able to engage in at least basic snake identification in order to keep safe.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Estimate the length of the snake's body. This may prove difficult, since the snake could be coiled or partially concealed by leaves or other debris. The pygmy rattlesnake, a poisonous snake found in West Tennessee's wooded, wet areas, is rarely more than 20 inches long.
Step 2
Take note of the body form. Is it stout or slender? The harmless northern rough green snake, found throughout Tennessee, is slender.
Step 3
Observe the snake skin's colors. The venomous southern copperhead, the least common of the two copperhead species found in West Tennessee, has grayish skin with brown or tan banding.
Step 4
Take note of the snake's head shape and eyes. All five of Tennessee's poisonous snakes--the northern and southern copperhead, pygmy rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake and water moccasin--have slit-shaped pupils. All of the nonpoisonous snakes have round pupils. Head shape can also help identify a snake. The eastern coachwhip, for example, has a small, tapered head that is indistinct from the snake's body and a pointed nose. It is found the sandy pine forests of Southwest Tennessee.
Step 5
Look for the distinct features of particular species. For example, the water moccasin is often called a "cottonmouth" because the inside of its mouth is white, and it shows this in a fierce, hissing display whenever it is threatened. This snake can be found in all of West Tennessee's waterways.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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