How to Identify Snakes in Southwest Ohio

How to Identify Snakes in Southwest OhioSouthwest Ohio, where Cincinnati is, is not where you'd think snakes abound. However, past Cincinnati are rural fields, woodlots, and a lot of creeks and streams. These make the perfect habitats for numerous snake species. Identifying an individual snake is usually a process of elimination, using features to rule out what the snake is not. However, a few do have unique traits that make them readily identifiable. (Picture: A harmless Eastern Hognose snake in defensive posture)


Difficulty: Moderate

How to Identify Snakes in Southwest Ohio

Step 1
Knowing the local habitat can help eliminate many snake species from consideration. For example, if you are looking at a water snake near a muddy creek, it cannot be a queen snake, because they live only in clear waterways with plenty of crayfish. Instead, it is more likely a northern water snake, because the copperbelly and Lake Erie water snakes are not found in southwestern Ohio.
Step 2
Check for the characteristics of the pit viper. There are three species of pit viper in southwestern Ohio, and these constitute the region's only poisonous snakes: the timber rattlesnake, the pygmy rattlesnake, and the northern copperhead. They all have the same facial features as a pit viper: the pit organs between the snout and the eyes; instead of round pupils, they have slit pupils. Knowing these features, you can easily identify the snake as non-poisonous or poisonous.
Step 3
Look for other characteristics that are unique to particular snake species. For example, once a snake is identified as a pit viper, the presence of a rattler makes it one of two species, while its absence makes it a certain copperhead. The hognose snake of southwestern Ohio is easily identified by its peculiar snout,
Step 4
Study the snake's colors. Many snakes in southwestern Ohio have similar colors and color patterns, but some are distinctive. No other snake has the white with maroon stripe pattern of the eastern milk snake, found everywhere in southwestern Ohio.
Step 5
Use the snake's size to narrow the possibilities more. The black rat snake is the longest snake in the region, averaging between 4 and 6 feet, but sometimes growing to 8 feet. If you are looking at a truly enormous black snake, it is sure to be a black rat snake.

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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