Arkansas is a state known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. However, with all that natural beauty comes some dangers, including venomous snakes. Arkansas is home to six venomous snakes, and three of them are rattlesnakes.
In this article, we will explore the top 6 largest and most dangerous snakes in Arkansas, including their characteristics, habitats, and behaviors. We will also discuss safety tips to help you avoid snake encounters and what to do if you are bitten.
So, let’s get started and find out which species takes the top spot!
Top 6 Largest And Most Dangerous Snakes In Arkansas
The timber rattlesnake, also known as the canebrake rattlesnake or banded rattlesnake, is a species of pit viper that is endemic to eastern North America. It is the largest and most dangerous snake in Arkansas and the only rattlesnake species in most of the populous Northeastern United States.
The timber rattlesnake can grow up to 189 cm in length and is found in a wide variety of terrestrial habitats, including lowland cane thickets, high areas around swamps and river floodplains, hardwood and pine forests, and rocky areas.
As with all pit vipers, the timber rattlesnake is venomous, with a very toxic bite. It is an ambush predator that feeds on invertebrates and vertebrates, including frogs, rodents, lizards, birds, and small snakes.
Despite their large size and reputation, timber rattlesnakes are difficult to provoke into rattling or biting and will seek to escape rather than risking danger. However, it is best not to take any chances with such a potentially deadly snake.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) is the second-largest and dangerous snake in Arkansas. This species has a spotty distribution in the Ouachita Mountains, mountainous portions of the Arkansas Valley, and southern Boston Mountains.
It is typically associated with rugged, rocky, and remote areas, such as undisturbed and exposed rocky South- and West-facing slopes. The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is a venomous snake and a member of the viper family, responsible for the majority of snakebite fatalities in northern Mexico and the greatest number of snakebites in the United States. No subspecies are currently recognized.
The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake can grow up to 180 cm in length and is found in various habitats, including deserts, grasslands, and rocky areas. Like all other rattlesnakes, it is an ambush predator that feeds on small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Texas Coral Snake (Micrurus tener)
The Texas Coral Snake (Micrurus tener) is a species of venomous snake in the family Elapidae. It is native to the southern United States and adjacent northeastern and central Mexico.
Five subspecies are recognized, including the nominotypical subspecies, Micrurus tener tener, which is found in both the US and Mexico and is commonly known as the Texas coral snake.
In Arkansas, the Texas coral snake is relatively common and widespread, inhabiting the southern thorn-scrub portions of the state as well as the pine forests.
– Adult Texas coral snakes measure between 51-76 cm (20-30 in) in length, with record individuals measuring just under 121 cm (48 in).
– Dorsal scales are smooth, in rows of 15 near midbody.
– The species is characterized by a series of black, yellow, and red bands that completely encircle the body, with the red bands only touching adjacent yellow bands.
– The anterior portion of the head is black, and the red bands of the body are not entirely red, with specks of black pigment found within each red band.
– There are no red bands on the head or tail, which only have yellow and black bands.
– The Texas coral snake is found in various habitats, including the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, and the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato, Querétaro, and Morelos.
– This snake is venomous and has alternating black, red, and yellow bands, with the red and yellow bands touching each other.
– The bands extend onto the belly, and the snake has a divided anal scale.
Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
The copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) is a venomous snake and a pit viper species endemic to eastern North America. It is the fourth-largest and dangerous snake in Arkansas.
The copperhead has two subspecies found in the state: Eastern Copperhead and Southern Copperhead. The Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) is a medium-sized pit viper with an average adult size of 61–90 cm and a maximum length of 135 cm. The Southern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix) reaches an adult length of 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm).
Copperheads are heavy-bodied snakes with large, triangular heads and elliptical pupils (cat eyes). They have a distinctive reddish-brown body with a crossband pattern consisting of tan, copper, and rich brown colors that extend throughout the body.
Copperheads are found in a variety of habitats, including forests, rocky areas, and swamps. They are slow-moving snakes and are often found in the same habitats as their prey.
Copperheads are preyed on by other snakes and birds of prey. They feed on baby cottontails, swamp rabbits, rats, mice, birds, snakes, lizards, baby turtles, frogs, toads, and insects, especially grasshoppers and cicadas.
Copperheads are diurnal (active during daylight hours) during the spring and fall mating seasons.
Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
The cottonmouth, also known as the water moccasin, is a species of venomous snake in the subfamily Crotalinae of the family Viperidae. It is one of the world’s few semiaquatic vipers and is native to the southeastern United States. The resulting and current taxonomic arrangement recognizes two species and no subspecies.
The western cottonmouth (A. p. leucostoma) was synonymized with the eastern cottonmouth (A. p. piscivorus) into one species (with the oldest published name, A. p. piscivorus, having priority).
The Florida cottonmouth (A. p. conanti) is now recognized as a separate species. In Arkansas, the cottonmouth is the fifth-largest and dangerous snake.
Cottonmouths are found in and around water, such as swamps, marshes, and streams. They are large, heavy-bodied pit vipers that can grow up to 180 cm in length.
Cottonmouths are dark olive-brown to almost black with dark crossbands that may not be visible. The top of the head is dark brown or black, and a dark, wide band may be visible from the snout through the eye and onto the neck.
Cottonmouths are diurnal and feed on fish, frogs, small mammals, and other snakes. They are generally not aggressive and will try to escape if encountered. However, they can be dangerous if provoked or cornered, and their venom can cause severe pain and tissue damage.
Western Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)
The Western Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) is a species of venomous snake in the subfamily Crotalinae (pit vipers) of the family Viperidae. It is a small and colorful snake, with a slender tail and a tiny rattle. The vibrating rattle is a faint buzz that sounds like a bee.
The Western Pygmy Rattlesnake is found primarily in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, but its range extends west into Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma.
There are three subspecies of the Western Pygmy Rattlesnake, including Sistrurus miliarius streckeri, which is commonly known as the Western Pygmy Rattlesnake. This subspecies is found in the southcentral United States, including Mississippi (except for southeast of the Pearl River Valley), west through Louisiana into East Texas, and north into southeastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, southern Missouri, and southwestern Tennessee.
The Western Pygmy Rattlesnake is a venomous pit viper, but its venom is relatively mild compared to other rattlesnakes. It feeds on small prey, including lizards, frogs, and insects.
1. How many venomous snakes are there in Arkansas?
Arkansas is home to six venomous snakes, including three species of rattlesnakes, the copperhead, the cottonmouth, and the Texas coral snake.
2. Which is the largest and most dangerous snake in Arkansas?
The timber rattlesnake is the largest and most dangerous snake in Arkansas. It can grow up to 189 cm in length and is found in forests and rocky areas.
3. Which is the smallest venomous snake in Arkansas?
The Western Pygmy Rattlesnake is the smallest venomous snake in Arkansas. It is a small and colorful snake, with a slender tail and a tiny rattle.
4. Are all venomous snakes in Arkansas dangerous to humans?
All venomous snakes in Arkansas have the potential to be dangerous to humans. However, the severity of the venom and the snake’s behavior can vary between species.
5. What should I do if I encounter a venomous snake in Arkansas?
If you encounter a venomous snake in Arkansas, it is best to give it plenty of space and avoid disturbing it. If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Do not attempt to suck out the venom or use a tourniquet, as these methods can be dangerous and ineffective.