While browsing the internet the other day, I thought about how many times we, as fishermen, run across snakes.
Listed below are the seven venomous snakes of Louisiana along with where they are found in Louisiana.
Harlequin Coral Snake
15-36 inches. Series of wide black and red rings, separated by narrow yellow rings, encircling the body; snout black and rear of head yellow; scales smooth and in 15 rows. The first black ring on the neck does not reach the parietal shields (two large shields on the crown of the head).
Coral snakes are secretive and rarely encountered. They forage in leaf litter during the day or evening, but remain concealed most of the time. They inhabit dry, wooded areas, especially pine lands and mixed forest. Coral snakes don’t strike, but if carelessly handled they may bite unexpectedly and should not be held under any circumstances. They feed on lizards and small snakes.
They can be found in the Florida Parishes east of the upper Amite River and lower Tangipahoa River. There are no confirmed records from Louisiana since the 1980s. They do not occur south of Lake Pontchartrain.
Texas Coral Snake
15-36 inches. Series of wide black and red rings, separated by narrow yellow rings, encircling the body; snout black and rear of head yellow; scales smooth and in 15 rows. The first black ring on the neck covers the rear tips of the parietal shields (two large shields on the crown of the head).
Identical with those of the Harlequin Coral Snake. They may be found on hardwood ridges along some rivers.
They can be found in the dry uplands of central and northern Louisiana, pine flatwoods as far south as Calcasieu Parish, and the Vermilion River margin north of Abbeville.
Pygmy Rattle Snake
10-20 inches. Pale gray or tan above, with a row of dark blotches or spots down the back and one row on each side; reddish or orange band present down the middle of the back, and wide black band along the side of the head; underside whitish, gray or tan with brown blotches or spots; scales keeled and in 21-23 rows. The rattle is very small in contrast to those of the other rattlesnake species.
Pygmy rattlesnakes occur in wooded areas, but tend to avoid swamps. They favor areas with a grass understory such as pinelands and dry coastlands, but also occur in palmetto flatwoods.
They can be found in the upland areas and pine flatwoods in the Florida Parishes and northern and central Louisiana, southwest to Calcasieu Parish. Isolated populations are in the west edge of the Atchafalaya Basin-Vermilion River area, the salt dome islands around Cote Blanch Bay, and liveoak ridges from the New Orleans area southward and eastward.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
25-90 inches. Brown or tan above with dark brown, pale-edged, diamond-shaped markings; dark band bordered by light stripes extends diagonally through eyes; tail with pale and dark rings; scales keeled and in 29 rows.
Diamondbacks occur in open pinelands. Adults feed on small rabbits and large rodents.
They can be found in the upland portions of Tangipahoa, Washington and St. Tammany Parishes. There are no more than eight verifiable records of the Diamondback in Louisiana, the last one being taken in 1995 near Franklinton.
15-55 inches. Dark tan, brown or nearly black, with vague black or dark brown crossbands; side of head black with a white line from the eye to the angle of the mouth; underside dark with large blackish blotches; scales keeled and in 25 rows. Juveniles have a bold pattern of dark brown crossbands on a pink or orange background, with a yellow tail. Some adults retain the juvenile pattern.
Cottonmouths frequent swamplands and pond, lake and stream borders, especially those with dense canopies. They often remain coiled near water, or on log jams in water, rarely ascending shrubs or palmettos. They frequently travel between streams, even over low ridges, and may be found in almost any habitat. Upon provocation, cottonmouths will coil, open their mouths to expose the white lining, and shake their tails. They are highly defensive and not inclined to get out of one’s way. They feed on fish, frogs, water snakes and small mammals.
They can be found throughout Louisiana.
14-45 inches. Beige, tan or pale gray, often with a dull pink or orange tint above, with broad, darker brown, hourglass-shaped crossbands that slightly paler on the lower sides; underside whitish with dark brown blotches; scales keeled and in 23-27 rows. The head is patternless, often with a faint orange tint on the top, dull yellow on the sides. Young copperheads have a bright yellow tail.
Copperheads frequent forested and wooded areas. They are unaggressive, but create a potential hazard by lying motionless and camouflaged. During the summer they are active at night and very early in the morning. They feed on frogs, cicadas and rodents.
They can be found throughout wooded and forested portions of Louisiana.
25-70 inches. Light tan or beige above with dark brown crossbands and a reddish stripe down the middle of the back; brown band from eye to angle of mouth; tail dark gray or black; scales keeled.
Canebrake rattlers inhabit wooded and forested areas, preferring hardwoods. They tend to lie motionless in a resting coil, usually near logs, tree bases, or in thickets. They feed on rodents, preferring wood rats and squirrels. Canebrake rattlers move from hibernation sites to summer foraging grounds in mid-spring, and return to winter quarters in late summer and early fall. They are most often observed during these periods of travel.
They can be found throughout most of Louisiana except the coastal marshes. They occur on the salt dome islands around Cote Blanche Bay and adjacent high ground from Morgan City to Patterson, but there are no records west of the Atchafalaya Basin, in Acadiana, or the pinelands of southwestern Louisiana.
Information source: LDWF