How to Identify Mississippi Snakes

How to Identify Mississippi SnakesMississippi is a largely rural state. Bordering both the Mississippi River and the sea, it is well-watered and unsurprisingly home to both land snakes and a wide variety of amphibious snakes, including the much-feared cottonmouth. However, the state's non-poisonous snakes are much more frequently encountered, and a little information and guidance is necessary to help in identifying a snake from among the numerous possible species. (Pictured: Eastern Indigo Snake)


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Start by looking for obvious and distinctive characteristics. For example, Mississippi's cottonmouth is so named because the snake bares it fangs and hisses when threatened, displaying a meaty white mouth. The state is also home to five types of rattlesnake, all of which share the characteristic rattle that no other snake possesses. Distinct characteristics can eliminate more or all other possibilities.
Step 2
Study the head of the snake for identifying features. Start with the eyes. Of Mississippi's poisonous snakes, all but the coastal area coral snake are pit vipers. These will have slit pupils, and pits located between the eyes and the snout. Non-poisonous snakes will have round pupils and no pits. Also, the head's shape can help identify snakes. The indigo snake has a much more distinct head when compared to the black pine snake, for example. Both are found across rural Mississippi.
Step 3
Pay close attention to the colors of the snake. The scarlet kingsnake, Louisiana milk snake, and the coral snake are all found in Mississippi, and all have a similar pattern of a red body with black and yellow-white banding. The patterns of these three snakes are: red and black with yellow border stripes for the coral snake; red with yellow stripes and black borders for the scarlet kingsnake; red and yellow with black borders for the milk snake.
Step 4
Estimate the size of the snake. For example, the way to distinguish rattlesnakes is often by length. Timber rattlers are between 36 and 60 inches, while eastern diamondbacks are usually a bit bigger at between 42 and 66 inches (but sometimes reach a huge 7-feet-long). Meanwhile, the pygmy rattler is a mere 15 to 22 inches long.

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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