How Can I Tell if a Snake is Venomous?
Some of a snake's natural features can help determine if it has venom or not. However, it is safest to consider all snakes as potentially dangerous and walk away.
Snakes with venom (venomous)
- Diamond- or triangle-shaped head
- Elliptical or "cat like" pupils
- Long fangs
- Pits located between the eye and nostril
- May have a rattle
Snakes without venom (harmless)
- Smooth head that is like the body
- Round pupils
- No pits
- No fangs, small rows of teeth
Note: These are general identification tips and don't always apply.
Call the 24-Hour Poison Help Line for Additional Support:
What to Expect if Bitten by a Venomous Snake
Symptoms May Include:
- Immediate and intense pain with rapid swelling
- Bruising of the skin
- A metallic, rubbery or minty taste in the mouth
- Nausea or vomiting
- Numbness or tingling around the mouth, tongue, scalp, feet or bite area
- Trouble breathing
- Signs of shock
Other symptoms that may be caused from the bite or from the fear of being bitten include feeling weak, dizzy, faint or confused.
If Bitten, Do:
- Stay calm
- Seek medical help as soon as possible
- Note the time the bite happened
- Remove jewelry or tight clothing anywhere near the bite site
- Keep the bitten area still, if possible, and raise it to heart level
- Gently wash the area with warm, soapy water
Call the Kansas Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222
If Bitten, Do Not:
- Do not pick up, attempt to trap or kill the snake
- Do not apply a tourniquet or attempt to restrict blood flow to the affected area
- Do not cut the wound
- Do not attempt to suck out the venom
- Do not apply heat, cold, electricity or any substances to the wound
- Do not give alcohol, aspirin or other drugs
Tips to Prevent Snake Bites
Watch your step. Consider using a walking stick when hiking. Don’t stick your hands under rock ledges, logs or stumps where snakes can hide. Use a flashlight at night when you’re outside.
Wear sturdy boots or shoes when you’re outside, especially when gardening, hiking or camping. Wear leather gloves when handling brush and debris.
Don’t try to pick it up or kill it. It can bite you while you’re trying to grab it. A dead snake, or even a snake’s detached head, can still bite because of its bite reflex.
Planning to spend time in a snake-prone area? It’s best not to go alone in case of an emergency. Also bring a fully charged phone.