How to Identify Snakes in Utah

How to Identify Snakes in UtahAlthough only seven of the 31 indigenous species of snakes in Utah are poisonous, it is a good idea to know what to look for if a snake crosses your path. Most snake encounters occur while hiking in wooded areas or camping around rocks. Use caution before approaching any snake, whether you spot one on a hike, in your backyard, or in your home. (Picture: Western Terrestrial Garter Snake - Thamnophis elegans. Zion National Park, Utah)


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to Identify Snakes in Utah

Things You’ll Need:
  • Snake field guide
Step 1
Carry a field guide that shows pictures of the various snakes, including the seven poisonous species found in Utah. The state's sidewinder is the only nonrattler in the group. The six rattlers include the midget-faded, speckled, Hopi, Mojave, western, and Great Basin.
Step 2
Look at the eyes. Check the pupil and shape of the eye itself. Relax if the both the eye itself and the pupil are rounded in shape. However, use extreme caution or call the appropriate authorities if the eye and the pupil are elliptical like a cat's. These are hallmarks of a poisonous snake.
Step 3
Check the teeth if the snake opens its mouth. Poisonous snakes have long curved fangs on either side of their mouths. Nonpoisonous snakes have teeth that are sized similarly to one another.
Step 4
Look for pits located between the eye and nose on each side of the head. These pits are heat sensors that poisonous snakes use to find their prey.
Step 5
Check the tail. Look for rattles at the very tip of the tail. Six of the seven poisonous snakes in Utah are rattlesnakes. Do not be fool if there are only one or two rattles. It is still a rattlesnake. Very young rattlers do not have a completely developed set, but they still have plenty of poison.

Tips & Warnings

If you are bitten by a snake, do not attempt to catch or kill it yourself. Seek medical attention immediately. And keep in mind that even a nonpoisonous snakebite can cause a severe infection if not properly treated.

Article Written By Tami Parrington

Tami Parrington is the author of five novels along with being a successful SEO and content writer for the past three years. Parrington's journalism experience includes writing for eHow on medical, health and home-related topics as well as writing articles about the types of animals she has raised for years.

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