If you’re planning on spending time outdoors in Louisiana this summer, it’s important to be aware of the snakes that call the state home. While most snakes are harmless, there are several venomous species that can be dangerous if encountered.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the top five largest and most dangerous snakes in Louisiana this summer, according to experts. Knowing how to identify these snakes and what to do if you encounter one can help keep you safe while enjoying the great outdoors.
Top 5 Largest And Most Dangerous Snakes In Louisiana This Summer
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) is the largest venomous snake in the Americas and the largest rattlesnake in the world. It is a heavy-bodied snake that can reach lengths close to seven feet, although the average adult is four to five feet.
The ground color of the body is brownish, and it has a row of large dark diamonds with brown centers and cream borders down its back. The tail ends in a rattle, which is often held above the ground.
The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is found in the Southeastern United States from southeastern North Carolina, south along the coastal plain through peninsular Florida to the Florida Keys, and west to southeastern Louisiana.
It is usually associated with sandhill communities, but it will venture into swampy and marshy habitats. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is venomous, and its venom can be fatal to humans.
Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin)
The Cottonmouth, also known as the Water Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus), is a venomous semi-aquatic snake native to the southeastern United States. It is the only venomous water snake in North America. The name “cottonmouth” comes from the white coloration on the inside of its mouth, which it displays when threatened.
Cottonmouths have large, triangular heads with a dark line through the eye and a heavy body that can reach up to six feet in length. They are often confused with harmless water snakes, but can be distinguished by their vertical pupils, triangular head, and dark line through the eye.
Cottonmouths are venomous and their bite can be dangerous to humans, although they usually only bite when threatened or provoked. If you encounter a cottonmouth in the wild, it’s best to keep your distance and let it go about its business.
The Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is a venomous pit viper species that is endemic to eastern North America. It is also known as the canebrake rattlesnake or banded rattlesnake.
The Timber Rattlesnake is the only rattlesnake species in most of the populous Northeastern United States and is the second most northerly distributed venomous snake in North America. It is also the largest venomous snake in New York, measuring from 3 to 4 feet or more in length. The record length in New York is 60 inches.
Timber Rattlesnakes have a broad, triangular head with many small scales on the crown, bordered by a few large scales over the eyes, the loreal pit and rostrum (nose). They are generally found in deciduous hardwood forests in rugged terrain, but they can also be found in swamps, river floodplains, lowland cane thickets, and agricultural fields.
Timber Rattlesnakes are venomous, with a very toxic bite, but they have a mild disposition and typically give plenty of warning by rattling and posturing.
The Harlequin Coralsnake (Micrurus fulvius), also known as the Eastern Coral Snake, is a highly venomous species of coral snake in the family Elapidae. It is a medium-sized snake that can grow up to 36 inches in length.
The Harlequin Coralsnake is most notable for the black, yellow, and red rings running the length of its body. It should not be confused with the Scarlet Snake or Scarlet Kingsnake, which are harmless mimics.
The Harlequin Coralsnake is found in the southeastern United States, including Louisiana, from southeastern North Carolina, south through South Carolina and peninsular Florida, and westward through southern Mississippi.
The Harlequin Coralsnake is venomous and its bite can be dangerous to humans, although it is not aggressive and will usually try to flee when encountered.
The Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) is a venomous pit viper species that is endemic to eastern North America. It is also known simply as the Copperhead. Copperheads are fairly large, heavy-bodied snakes with large, triangular heads and elliptical pupils (cat eyes). They can grow up to 24-40 inches in length.
The Eastern Copperhead is diurnal and nocturnal during warm weather. They are found in 28 states throughout the central and eastern United States, including Louisiana. Their geographic range extends from southern New England to the eastern parts of Kansas and Nebraska, and then south to eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle.
Eastern Copperheads are not aggressive and will usually try to flee when encountered.
1. What are the top 5 largest and most dangerous snakes in Louisiana?
The top 5 largest and most dangerous snakes in Louisiana are:
1. Eastern Copperhead
2. Northern Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin)
3. Pygmy Rattlesnake
4. Timber Rattlesnake
5. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
2. Are all of these snakes venomous?
Yes, all of the top 5 largest and most dangerous snakes in Louisiana are venomous.
3. How can I identify an Eastern Copperhead?
The Eastern Copperhead is one of the most common and easily recognized venomous snakes in Louisiana. It has a large, triangular head and elliptical pupils (cat eyes).
4. What should I do if I encounter a Northern Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin)?
If you encounter a Northern Cottonmouth, it’s best to keep your distance and let it go about its business. Trying to kill a snake greatly increases the risk of being bitten by one.
5. Are there any non-venomous snakes in Louisiana that I should be aware of?
Yes, there are many non-venomous snake species in Louisiana, including the Louisiana Pine Snake, Louisiana Milk Snake, and Louisiana Red-bellied Snake.
6. How many people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. each year?
The University of Florida states that 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. each year, but only about five to six people die from their bites. Cottonmouths have accounted for less than 1% of all snakebite deaths in the U.S..