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Is It a Rat Snake, Chicken Snake, or a Copperhead?

Updated on July 20, 2015
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

If you live in an area where copperhead snakes can be found, you need to educate yourself on how to recognize one.
If you live in an area where copperhead snakes can be found, you need to educate yourself on how to recognize one. | Source

In my area of Texas, we have both rat snakes (also called chicken snakes) and copperheads. There are times when it is hard to tell: Is it a rat snake or a copperhead?

Living in balance with nature can offer some challenges. Here, we try not to kill snakes unless they are a threat to us or our livestock. Snakes are a great help in dealing with rats and mice, and they've provided the material for many of our homeschool lessons!

Often people kill snakes for no real reason except ignorance and fear. This isn't good because snakes provide a valuable service to the homesteader by keeping small rodents in check. A large snake lives under our barn, and I have not seen a mouse there in awhile. We do try to discourage snakes around the chicken coop because the snakes love those fresh eggs as much as we do. If we go for a few days without seeing an egg, then we know we have a reptilian visitor.

It is startling to walk into the chicken coop and come face to face with a large rat snake, especially since they often look very much like a dangerous copperhead. How does one recognize which is which?

Differences Between Rat Snakes (AKA Chicken Snakes) and Copperheads

Key differences between rat snakes and copperheads.
Key differences between rat snakes and copperheads.
Rat Snake
Copperhead
Non-Venomous
Venomous
Duller colors
Brighter colors
Less distinct markings
Distinct hour-glass markings
Round pupils
Slitlike pupils
Bite lacks fang marks
Bite leaves fang marks
Grow four to six feet long
Grow two to three feet long
Can climb
Cannot climb—if you see a snake hanging in the rafters, it is not a copperhead

Rat Snakes: Beneficial Friends

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Adult Texas rat snakes look like copperheads but are not poisonous.Notice that the markings are not shaped like hourglasses. Rat snakes can climb, unlike copperheads.
Adult Texas rat snakes look like copperheads but are not poisonous.
Adult Texas rat snakes look like copperheads but are not poisonous.
Notice that the markings are not shaped like hourglasses.
Notice that the markings are not shaped like hourglasses. | Source
Rat snakes can climb, unlike copperheads.
Rat snakes can climb, unlike copperheads. | Source

Rat snakes go by many names. In our area, they are called Texas rat snakes; they are also called chicken snakes because they are often found near chicken coops. Normally the rat snake will be dining on the rats and mice that thrive on the grain that is so plentiful in the chicken yard, but sometimes they will eat the eggs as well.

These snakes are proficient climbers. One afternoon I went into the chicken coop, intent on cleaning the nesting boxes, and came literally face to face with a large adult rat snake hanging from the low rafters of our small hen house. I backed smoothly away, hoping that the snake would not get startled and bite me.

Rat snakes are not poisonous. They will bite when they feel threatened, and the bite looks very much like a human bite on the skin. It lacks the two distinct fang marks of a poisonous snake. While the bite hurts, it is not going to make you sick. Just wash the area carefully with soap and water and watch for signs of infection as you would with any other wound.

Texas rat snakes are one of the largest snakes found in my area, often reaching lengths over six feet. The background color of an adult will range from yellow to orange to brown, and it has tan or brown blotches on it, which makes it look similar to a copperhead. However, the markings are not in distinct hourglass shapes like those of the copperhead.

The rat snake will sometimes even rattle its tail, emulating a rattlesnake. This similarity is good for the snake in some ways because predators naturally shy away from it. However, the similarity harms the snake in populated areas, where people often don't stop to analyze which of the two it is before killing it.

A rat snake has round pupils, unlike the elliptical "cat's eye" pupils of the copperhead. Its head is oval, and the colors are slightly duller.

Copperhead Snake, Dangerous Foe

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The markings on a copperhead are very distinct and shaped like hourglasses.A copperhead snake has a wedge-shaped head.Another look at the copperhead's hourglass markings.
The markings on a copperhead are very distinct and shaped like hourglasses.
The markings on a copperhead are very distinct and shaped like hourglasses. | Source
A copperhead snake has a wedge-shaped head.
A copperhead snake has a wedge-shaped head. | Source
Another look at the copperhead's hourglass markings.
Another look at the copperhead's hourglass markings. | Source

There are several subspecies of copperheads, but the one most easily confused with the beneficial rat snake is the southern copperhead.

These snakes live in partially wooded areas near sources of water, such as a stock tank or creek. You will most likely encounter them under debris, decaying leaves, and rotting stumps. On the homestead, watch out for them if you are dealing with brush piles or woodpiles.

The southern copperhead grows to a length of about 36 inches. Its color is a pinkish tan background with darker hourglass blotches across its back. It is nocturnal in the heat of summer but becomes more active in the daytime as the temperatures cool during the autumn months. This snake is one of the most abundant poisonous snakes in my area of North Texas. There have been few deaths reported from the bite of a southern copperhead, but if you are bitten, it is important to seek medical care immediately. The bite mark will have two punctures from the fangs—this is how you can identify the bite as venomous.

Like rat snakes, copperheads eat rats, mice, and other small rodents. These benefits notwithstanding, the danger of the copperhead's bite makes it important to me to keep the species away from the areas where my children play. If possible, we catch the snakes and relocate them. However, we will kill them if need be. Keeping areas of brush and trash away from the house and yard will help discourage these snakes. Seal up openings in foundations and around pipes, so that snakes (of any kind) cannot get into the house.

A copperhead will not climb like a rat snake will, so this is another way to tell the difference between the two. If you see a snake above your head, it won't be a copperhead.

Not that you will hang around to test the theory, right?

Close-up of a copperhead. Notice the slit-shaped pupils.
Close-up of a copperhead. Notice the slit-shaped pupils. | Source

How to Discourage Snakes from Your Yard

The other day, I was writing, and my youngest children came running in to tell me there was a snake coiled by the goat barn. I sent my 15-year-old out to investigate.

He was sure it was an adult copperhead and asked for permission to kill it. I really don't like killing anything, so I went out to have a look myself. I looked at it, but thought it was a Rat Snake and told him to let it go. I took some pictures to use for our nature notebooks. My son let me know he thought I was nuts but did as I asked.

When I loaded the pictures on the computer (the ones above), I immediately saw that he had been correct in his identification, and I had been too interested in getting back to my writing! I had to apologize and say those words dreaded by parents everywhere: "Son, I was wrong, and you were right. I am sorry."

The best way to discourage snakes from venturing close to your home is to get rid of their preferred shelters and food as much as possible. Store wood at least 18 inches off the ground. Keep the rodent population down by use of traps.

Since those precautions are not a guarantee that a copperhead won't venture into your yard, it is important to teach your children to be cautious around any snake they see. They should back away from it smoothly and as quickly as they can. Use gloves and boots when working with brush and woodpiles, and be alert for movement. Snakes will normally avoid human contact if they can, but you might come across one in a bad mood.

Apparently marigolds are natural deterrents for snakes, so you might think about planting them in areas that you would like the snakes to stay away from.

Try to be selective in which snakes you kill. By allowing snakes to share your environment, you can benefit from the natural pest control they provide.

Can You Identify a Copperhead?


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Identify Poisonous Snakes Quickly

A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants: North America North of Mexico (Peterson Field Guides)
A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants: North America North of Mexico (Peterson Field Guides)

An easy to use guide to dangerous snakes, bugs, and plants a for easy identification of anything whether you are hiking or at home.

 

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  • AvineshP profile image

    Avinesh Prahladi 3 years ago from Chandigarh

    Marye Audet, I am glad that I read this hub. It surely gives some crucial information about the snakes. Not many people are aware of the types of snakes.

    Really appreciate the effort and looking forward to read such hubs in the near future.

  • profile image

    Stormy1 4 years ago

    Thank you for your reminder about the copperhead. Now I need to know more about rattlesnakes. I am told that I live on the border of where they begin to live. Need to keep them away from my beautiful greyhounds who are gentle creatures. I did use snake away and also lime for the past two years. Did not see any critters, but I could have been lucky. The copperhead killed my greyhound back in 2010. The fang marks were on the bottom of his foot. He died very quickly, but swelled up like a balloon. I cried for weeks. I live on the edge of a state park. Danger never seems to be far. We do not mind the black snakes and the eastern king snakes, milk snakes, corn snakes, ring neck snakes and garter snakes that are around. But since my dog got bit, I can hardly bring myself to walk in the fields and the forest that I used to love being in. I worry about being out there and getting bitten and not being able to get home in time for help for me or the dogs. Once while I was at work, a black snake came in the house that my son left open. We never found that guy. I was told that even if a snake is not poisonous, that one could get salminela from them and be hospitalized. I may try the marigold thing around the dogs fenced in area as well. Wish me well as my spouse will never leave this place that he loves.

  • Marye Audet profile image
    Author

    Marye Audet 4 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    Bettina... I love Frisco... but I didn't know they let snakes in the town... LOL! Glad the article helped.

  • Bettina Restrepo profile image

    Bettina Restrepo 4 years ago

    Thanks for the article. Our subdivision was having quite the Facebook conversion on the subject and your article was cited.

    The original post on our thread (Frisco, Texas) thought the pool area was being invaded by Copperheads. A few years back, 3-4ft rat snake crawled out of my garden. After causing a huge scene, I was informed by Hubbie that it was "just a rat snake". Still scary - but he left to find better feeding grounds.

    I like the Marigold idea.

  • profile image

    Stormy1 5 years ago

    Thank you for your reply. It has been most helpful. I can really see the difference between the rat snake and the copperhead. especially the bite description tells a lot, between the difference in the eyes and markings.

  • profile image

    This Guy Here 5 years ago

    Great hub!

    On a side note though, I was out fishing with a buddy o' mine out under a bridge in my home town here in MS. Not sure what kind snake it was but he came off the rocks on the otherside of the bridge, swam all the way across the inlet (a good 15-20 ft swim for it) and came up on the bank where we were standing, coiled up and just sat there flickin his tongue at us. It was about a foot and a half long, light brown with reddish brown spots on his back.

    Now I'm not one for killing snakes, especially since I own one myself, so we just packed our gear and left. But any ideas as to what it was, and more so why it made such a trip just to look at us on the otherside?

  • profile image

    midsouth mister 5 years ago

    I live in Central Arkansas and purchased my home 3 years ago. It's a nice neighborhood but a large drainage ditch runs directly behind my back yard. The first spring I was here, I had an enormous task of clearing and cleaning up the entire back yard after the house had sat vacant in foreclosure for 3 years. Leaves, dead limbs and an abundance of old lumber and trash covered the entire area. I say all of this to explain the conditions for what must have become a snake haven. Though I found none during the initial clean-up, I have since found 4 chicken snakes (small, about a foot long) and 2 copperheads (1 large, about 2 feet long and 1 medium about a foot long) and a skinny 2 foot long ribbonsnake. I actually did not know the difference between the copperhead and chickensnake until I saw this article. I thought the small chickensnakes were just young copperheads and had not developed their colors yet. Anyway, I have tried moth balls, snake-away, vinegar, sulpher...you name it, I've tried it...but nothing has worked. I've decided to just be careful anytime I'm outside and to watch when I'm raking or mowing. I think they like the ditch behind my house but I really wish they would stay back there away from my house. I like the point "Concerned" was making about respecting life, even the creepy crawly slithering kind.

  • maxravi profile image

    Ravi Singh 6 years ago from India

    Nice hub.. In india we have kobra is widely found.

  • feliscattus profile image

    feliscattus 6 years ago

    I try not to hate snakes, but to no avail. They still give me the willies. I recently had a snake inside my home. It was draped across the top of the door frame. I dont see how it could get there, unless it crawled across the door frame. I think that would be almost impossible. One of my cats was staring at it and attracted my attention. It was about 4 or 5 feet long. I think it had to be a rat snake. Too big for a copperhead. Also I heard that copperheads do not climb very much. I used a stick and managed to capture him, put him in a box and released him outside, where he slithered away. I never kill snakes, but have a fear of copperheads. I always try to identify snakes that are seen.

  • MarkMAllen15 profile image

    MarkMAllen15 6 years ago

    So true. Snakes are scary yet they are very beneficial. LOve this hub. Thanks.

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    Suezique2 6 years ago

    I just moved here from the woods of the Ozarks in Missouri, we had 5 or 6 hound dogs there and we had geese and chickens and never saw one snake. Now we live here in North Texas and we have seen either a rat snake in the chicken coop eating baby chicks or in the goose cage eating eggs and that has been for the last 6 nights!! Sick of it!!!

  • Louisiana Jobs profile image

    Louisiana Jobs 6 years ago from Louisiana

    I live in Louisiana and we have plenty of snakes here as well. I actually killed a copperhead a couple of days ago on our back patio. I have young children and any "bad" snake that wanders into "our" habitat is unfortunately going to be a dead one. Thanks for the informative hub Marye.

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    Stormy1 6 years ago

    My 12 year old Greyhound was bit by a copperhead in Maryland at the end of September in 2010. He was bit on the foot only one time. His eyes rolled back, he bled out of every oriface on his body and balloned out in a couple of hours, before we had a chance to bury him. We found him dead in the yard, after he was only out for about an hour. I fear living next to the state park now for my other dogs, as well as myself and son. I just found a snake skin outside of my back door today, 5/9/11. I used to love snakes, but after I seen what they did to by best friend, you will never convince me that any live snake is a good one. We have at least six type of snakes in the park. Black snakes, copperheads, garter snakes, ringneck snake, eastern king snake and rattlers. Our friend who lives three miles away, had a cottonmouth in his yard. I never knew that Maryland just outside of Washington DC was such a scary place.I was told that because we had such excessive heat last year, that is why we have so many snakes now. Heard that Garlic Juice and onion juice sprayed on the grass every month in the summer may help. Also bought snakeaway to help, but I don't see how that would work. Found a diagram for a snake fence on the net, but that is very expensive too, since the hounds have a large area to run in. Might check in with the fox people who run their hounds throuh the woods. Perhaps they have another idea other than moving away. My family likes it here, so I stay. I had a friend who was bit by a black snake and he got salminila and was in the hospital for a month. So much for non-poisioness snakes too.

  • SallyTX profile image

    Sally Branche 6 years ago from Only In Texas!

    It never occurred to me that people might confuse a rat snake and a copperhead! They don't look the least bit alike to me! But I guess all snakes look alike to some people! Thanks for the useful information! :)

  • naturegirl7 profile image

    Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from South Louisiana

    I enjoyed your hub. It was filled with excellent information. It's nice to 'meet' someone with similar views about these beneficial reptiles. Thank you for such a wonderful hub.

  • profile image

    TxLady1966 6 years ago

    First of all, Thank you for this information... I live in Cedar Hill TX... commonly called snake central since we are right on a lake!! This year we have had an overwhelming amount of Copperheads... my puppy was bitten on his paw and the neighbors dog was bitten on her back!! I'm sorry, I hate to kill anything but I WILL NOT let a copperhead snake live if seen!!! We've already killed 5 in the last 2 1/2 months on our front porch right in front of our door!! NOT WORTH IT.... I am totally terrified of snakes... I couldn't get into the house for this thing being at the door.. I was in the yard hyperventilating having a FULL BLOWN PANIC ATTACK!!! I understand their use and we are in a heavily wooded area so it's not gonna bring the population down by great numbers if we kill the ones we see!! For a very long time 27 years to be exact, we thought they were Rat Snakes and left them alone... but once my puppy was bitten we learned the difference and will now kill on site!!!

  • profile image

    Agkistrodon 6 years ago

    Three quarters of what is being shared here is little more than hysteria or hearsay. I have been raising copperheads for many years, and they are the least aggressive and least dangerous of the venomous snakes on this continent. I myself have been bitten and envenomated twice (careless handling of wild snakes which were not in a good mood) didn't go to the hospital and did not suffer any "sickness" either time. Copperhead bites rarely cause any serious threat to life, limbs or organs; they merely cause localized swelling which goes away in 48 hours or less. Furthermore, mothballs, sulphur, diatomaceous earth and "terpentine" are all of no use in repelling any snake - but you people who are afraid of the boogeyman are welcome to have your Tooth Fairy if you need one.

    I prefer one paragraph of actual knowledge to an entire page of foolish babbling, but what you see is what you get.......

  • profile image

    HunterScotRules1 7 years ago

    i was bit by a copperhead when i was 8 now im 13 they gave me 20 something iv shots and 3000 liters af anti-venom

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    Kentucky Girl 7 years ago

    This evening my husband found another snake in our chicken house hanging from the rafters getting ready to feast on yet another baby chicken ...so he killed it he really hates to kill snakes that are not harmful to us but we raise the chickens for food and eggs and within a week to a week and a half we have lost 7 baby chickens 4 mommy chickens.. so i must say ya have to do something the first round he took the one down the road and released it in another wooded area away from any homes then another one came back and then again and again and he went out one evening to get the eggs we have a few morning layers and some evening layers but any way he felt in the higher boxes for eggs and put his hand on top of the snake eating a baby chick so he killed it ...he loves animals but me as a mommy in the country almost an hour from a hospital if a snake would bite one of my kids it would be so scary so no snake is a good snake...and i have dogs and cats...snakes are not scared..so any ideal how to keep my baby chickens away from a hungry snake ....

  • okmom23 profile image

    Donna Oliver 7 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

    Finally have an answer! The wildlife expert came to my home yesterday afternoon. He was very professional and inspected every inch of my laundry room. He found the access point which the snake had been using: my dryer vent screen was missing! Everything is secured and nothing can get into my laundry room now. He only charged me $40.00, for the 3 hour trip from his home.

    We feel much safer now!

  • okmom23 profile image

    Donna Oliver 7 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

    Mary,

    We are still trying to catch the copperhead and get it OUT of the house! I have had many Wildlife Experts visit, inspect, and the consenus is that the snake has taken up housing itself in the washer or dryer casings!

    Today, I have one more Wildlife professional coming to the house. I am sure his service call will be $$$. But I have to keep everyone safe here! It is un-nerving living like this....I am a "Jersey Girl," and this situation is new to me! Thank you again for the informative Hub!

  • okmom23 profile image

    Donna Oliver 7 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

    Great Hub! We live in NE Oklahoma, in a fairly populated area. (I am from the East Coast-and we had many fewer copperheads there). In the past few days I have scoured the net for info. on copperheads. Our home is a single detached home with an attached two car garage in a neighborhood of 50+ homes. We have lived here for eight years and all I have ever seen is garter snakes. I sprinkle sulphur around the perimeter of our house and it has seemed to help.

    The reason for my current research: six weeks ago, our six pound Maltese was alone in our family room with the pocket door closed. All of a sudden she began to cry and whimper. My daughter went to check on her and found that the right side of her face was extremely swollen. This was about ten p.m., and I called our Vet. His first impression was a snake bite. This is an indoor dog, and only goes out with a leach on, and an adult walking her. The Vet. thought it might be a bite from a brown recluse, and I agreed.But the dog has not progressed with three rounds of antibiotics, and now the Vet. is convinced it was a copperhead bite. Since then, we have learned that the dog was indeed bitten by a copperhead in the house! We found a few holes in the garage foundation, and some missing baseboard in the laundry room which is off the family room. I had the most difficult time finding someone to come and assist us. Finally, a friend suggested we sprinkle baby powder along the walls where we thought the snake was traveling. That was last night. This morning we found the snakes "slither marks" in the powder, in the laundry room-where the dog food WAS! I contacted every Game Warden I could find, and finally got someone to help us. He instructed me to put down large glue traps in the laundry room tonight, and block all of the doorways to any other rooms. So, we wait tonight and hope for a capture!

    The Warden will come here tomorrow and remove the snake.

    He will also work into next week if need be to make sure our home is snake-free and we are safe. Our poor dog is having a rough time, and may need surgery. The snake bit her right below her eye. What an experience this has been.

    Now I will be very diligent regarding any foundation problems, loose bricks, and baseboard holes. Someone told me that copperheads have a smell-like rotten eggs?

    Your Hub was the best information I have found doing research. Thank You!

  • rust profile image

    rust 7 years ago from East Texas Woods

    It's worth mentioning that as rat snakes mature and age their skin may become much darker, kind of a dark grey (or faded black) with some dull brown brown patterning. The greenish grey goes away. It makes them look almost identical to a cottonmouth. Two quick ways to distinguish them would be the shape of the head - a rat snake's is rounded, not flat - and the length of the body. Copperheads top out at about three and a half feet. Rat snakes can reach over six feet long.

    It's also worth stating that if you do see a venemous snake, it is not going to attempt to bite you. It will easily avoid you if it can. If you're in an uninhabited or lightly inhabited area, just walk away. Most people who get bitten by copperheads are struck while trying to kill them. I actually brushed a copperhead with my hand once while pulling weeds and it didn't make a move of any kind.

  • profile image

    catrachos 7 years ago

    The word "beneficial" doesn't really apply for the natural world. Snakes rock. That includes copperheads when they aren't on the veranda (except maybe for a student of biological sciences). Copperheads and other snakes are fascinating creatures. We humans tend to mess things up when we use narrow criteria of "beneficial." Many things we define as pests play an interesting and important role in nature. Furthermore, copperheads aren't contributing to nuclear proliferation, or creating toxic assets and destroying people's economic security, or filling our rivers and bays with dangerous toxins, or spreading oil slicks over the seas.

  • GarnetBird profile image

    Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

    I lived in Ohio near Copperheads. NICE hub! Check out my snake Hubs (I have 4 now; 3 with original photos of our local reptiles)

  • rust profile image

    rust 7 years ago from East Texas Woods

    We have such a bad copperhead problem where our weekend house is in East Texas that we built a fence to create a backyard and keep our dogs away from them. Really bad idea. The snakes loved the new backyard! Now I have to scour the yard every time we let the dogs out after dark. Last year alone there were nine coppers back there. I can tell you that finding them is very hard. The only thing that doesn't look like a snake at night - is a snake.

    One night last summer I saw something fall from the house onto the deck and looked through the french doors to see what I thought was a three-foot copperhead sitting outside. I got my machete and prepared to do battle. The darn thing was trying to come inside the house. I had to scoot it back aways with the flat of my blade just to get outside. I took a swig of beer and laughed, relieved. It was a "Round Head." False alarm. We sat there talking for a little while and eventually he crawled under the house. If you have trouble telling whether a snake is poisonous or just looks really evil, the shape of the head is a good way of figuring it out. Vipers have flat heads and a sheepish "grin." Rat snakes can really fool you sometimes. They tend to strongly resemble the snake in your video, minus the rattles and the head.

    If you live in an area where there are lots of snakes, you owe it to them to learn which ones are poisnous and which aren't. I hate the mentality of people who kill every snake they see. A little time spent on the internet has allowed me to spare a lot of harmless snakes any harm.

  • Seen On TV profile image

    Seen On TV 7 years ago

    To me telling the difference doesn't matter because I'm not sticking around to find out. I'm way to scared of snakes to begin with. However, I live on a lake in Florida and I have no problems swimming along side the alligators. As long as there isn't a drout or it's not mating season I swim and feel safe, but if i see a snake slithering across the water, I'm out of there!

  • spiderspun profile image

    spiderspun 7 years ago from Utopia, Ontario Canada

    It is interesting reading about how you deal with snakes like that in your area. I am in Ontario Canada, we do have several native snakes, I believe just the one rattler type is venomus.

    I will soon be posting a hub on keeping the Taiwan Beauty Rat Snake. This is a non venomus snake. I'll post several pictures and videos if you'd like to take a look.

    I should have it together first week of March 2010

  • Amez profile image

    Amez 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Excellant Hub, I really enjoyed it, especially knowing you have first hand experience. I live in Houston Tx, RattleSnakes here and Water moccasin, which I was biten by when picking Tomotoes in the garden, near Oyster Creek, Texas when I was in my early 20's. Lucky my aunt was around and rushed me to the hospital. Ed

  • Brandon E Newman profile image

    Brandon E Newman 7 years ago from North Texas

    "Just kill it"

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    BL Tween 7 years ago

    Cool page, I am linking to it.

  • spiderspun profile image

    spiderspun 7 years ago from Utopia, Ontario Canada

    Learned a lots on your Hub. I actually have a type of rat snake as a pet called the Taiwan Beauty. These are not venomus just constrictors.

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    wvlegacy 7 years ago

    Thanks for educating me on snakes. Great information and a great hub.

  • Cleanclover profile image

    Cleanclover 7 years ago from Piece of land!

    if you love snakes see my hub on the most dangerous snakes for humans in the world you will like it

  • Smireles profile image

    Sandra Mireles 7 years ago from Texas

    Very good hub and very good discussion. I hate snakes. It would not matter if they are venomous or not. I hate them. I would not necessarily kill it if I was sure it was not dangerous to me or my family. Still...I will never love snakes. Oh yes, I have a picture of my 14 yeear old granddaughter with a huge snake wrapped several times around her neck like some people carry them. I cannot stand to look at it! Good hub.

  • tonyhubb profile image

    tonyhubb 7 years ago

    Very cool hub. Great info!

  • stars439 profile image

    stars439 7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

    fascinating.

  • Marye Audet profile image
    Author

    Marye Audet 7 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    From this point on comments will be monitored before being posted. Arguing is pointless, and it is certainly NOT the point of this article.

  • ciidoctor profile image

    ciidoctor 7 years ago

    thank you for that useful info plz more similar hubs

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    Hillbilly  7 years ago

    Look you all need to calm down about the snakes I have grown up in moutians and seen and killed every kind of snake if it is poisionous I kill it because God has given me his premission but all you have to do to keep them out of the yard is to get a plastic owl and move it every three or for days if you don't move it they will figure out it is not real good luck

  • selahangel profile image

    selahangel 7 years ago from Texas

    I lived in the country for a while here in Texas, we have come across both copperheads and rat snakes. We have a kill policy for the yard proper because of the small show dogs running the back yard (although my cairn terrier thinks he is some somethin' when he sees one). We have used Diamateaous Earth (not sure if that is spelled right) we put it around the perimeter of the yard after we check to make sure it is snake clear. My husband just puts it out with a fertilizer spreader once a week when he cuts the grass.

    We have not seen a snake in the yard since, and the DE is ok for pets and chickens.

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    Concerned 7 years ago

    Tim, I would love to help but I'm not sure if I'll be able to. I am currently living in Central Virginia, and unless you are within an hour or so drive from here I'm afraid I won't be able to personally pick up the snake. Have you tried contacting a local pet store to see if they have someone who would be willing to relocate the snake for you? Additionally, if you click on the hyperlink in P.W.H.S Reptile Keeper above, they have a service to move any reptiles in Central Pennsylvania. The contacts for that service are located on that very page if you scroll down.

    Also, know that snakes can go for a long time between meals, so if no one can help you right away the snake will probably be fine for at least a week (if it has some access to water that is).

    As a last resort, could you take the trap out into the woods some place, and open it enough for the snake to come out on its own? Snakes tend to want to try and get out of cages/traps, and wouldn't need much encouragement to go out into the woods given the opportunity.

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    Tim 7 years ago

    Today I have captured a copperhead in my homemade funnel trap. It's probably less than 2 ft long. Now I am not sure what to do with the thing. Animal control dept is closed for the day. It's not a threat in the trap so cops wouldn't want to deal with it. I won't release it in my neighborhood or anyone elses. Concerned, if you would like to come get it, you are welcome - but I want my trap back.

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    concerned 7 years ago

    Tree hugger, I mean this in the nicest way possible, but isn't you name a bit facetious? The so called "knee-jerk reaction" to DDT was anything but-it took many years from its introduction as a pesticide in 1939 for people to realize the impact it had on the environment, most notably with Rachel Carson's 1962 book "Silent Spring." This chemical which did "more good than I know" has been clearly shown to be perilous to the population of the Bald Eagle, which has made a drastic comeback from near extinction since '72 when DDT was banned for use in the United States. Additionally, the research I have heard shows that trace amounts of DDT can be found all the way in Antartica where it was never used because of its persistence in nature and how it gets biomagnified as you trace up the food chain. The problem with these trace amounts is that if DDT keeps getting introduced, as it still is in some countries, then eventually it ends up in our food supply-as recently as 2005 the CDC tested peoples blood and found trace amounts of it in almost everyone tested. Furthermore, Organochlorine chemicals like DDT have been linked to Diabetes and cancer. So, if you really love trees, would you want them to be void of any of our national bird? I think I'll stand by my claim that DDT is much more harmful than good. (Just go to the Wikipedia article on DDT and double check the external sources if you don't believe me.)

    As for being fuzzy about the Snakes (which is the whole point of this article) I'd have to say that yes, I think that most all things deserve to live-unless they directly threaten my life. I do not have the hubris to think that this planet with countless different species of so many different shapes and sizes is set out just for me, evolution demonstrates that everything is in flux, and that we are just one small portion of the biosphere in which we live, yet our impact on all other organisms is huge and often detrimental. But, returning to snakes specifically I think the real knee jerk reaction is to kill them, when they will be more likely to run and hide from us than anything else-never have I found a snake in the woods that didn't want to get away from me as fast as possible. Also, let me re-iterate that the greatest danger from snakes is us-if you try to mess with or kill them that is when you put yourself closest to the snake and have the highest likelihood to get bitten yourself.

    So, please let the snakes be, respect their place in the natural habitat, and try to learn the facts about DDT before saying it is "fine if used properly."

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    tree hugger 7 years ago

    I am amazed. Really amazed that "Concerned" is so overwhelmed with a warm fuzzy desire to let all all things live, that you would subject a child to the foolish perspective of, "this is avery harmful creature, capable of killing a small child with its venom;" so jsut know that and avoid it. If you see a bunch of them, just find another place to play. If you lived in my neighborhood and I ever found out you simply moved a truly dangerous animal or reptile, and I could prove it.. I would have your butt in a court house soooo fast your head would spin. And your DDY comment highlights to me your shortcomings. DDT did more good for this planet than I bet you know. It has never ever been proven to cause any harm when used properly. Research DDTs value and the knee-jerk reaction used to ban it.

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    Concerned 7 years ago

    Marye, I think you may have misunderstood me slightly-I also would act the same way with a "murderer in the barn," but the difference is that the murderer has intent to kill, while the snake doesn't-no snake has premeditation to kill a person. If I were to find a venomous snake under a playhouse, I would use it as a chance to teach my child about respecting nature. In stead of simply killing the animal, I would teach my kid to avoid that animal, and would then move the snake to a safe distance from my house. This whole snake-issue is just one part of a bigger problem in my opinion, which is the way we treat nature. We expect nature to bend to our every will and to accommodate us, when in reality we are only one insignificant portion of this planet in which we live. This is not to say that we should let ourselves get killed and ignore our survival instincts-rather that we should not succumb to our knee-jerk reactions and fears. Killing an animal solely for the reason that it can pose a threat to us demonstrates the height of our ignorance of the natural world around us-look at the problems caused by use of DDT to try and kill mosquitos, the dust bowl caused by our short-sighted farming techniques, the havoc that wild pigs cause in Hawaii, the problems caused by soaring deer populations due to our elimination of their natural predators, the problems caused by wild cats in Australia, and perhaps most obviously to us Americans the problems caused by introduction of Kudzu to try and stop runoff and loss of good soil because we cut down the trees and introduced worms to North America. In Pre-Colombian times the forests of North America had such huge trees that according to some accounts you could ride wagons between them-try and do that in a forest today. Getting back to my main point, we as humans need to recognize our place in nature, and give up on the belief that all nature is "for the taking" or expendable when we want it to be. If we fail to do this, I fear we may bring ourselves to an early extinction from this planet by killing one too many organisms which turns out to be beneficial or necessary in ways we could never have predicted.

    So, am I trying to say that killing Copperheads will end humanity--Of course not, but the mindset that enables us to do so just might.

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    Marye Audet 8 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    Concerned... when it comes to a dangerous snake and my 6 year old...the 6 year old wins...hands down. COmment back when you have a venomous snake living under your kid's playhouse.

    Oh..and I don't consider human life over animal lifel..shoot..if I had a murderer living in my goat barn I would kill him/her too.

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    Concerned... 8 years ago

    I have to say in spite of this article trying to be educational about snakes and which ones are dangerous or not, I still dislike the opinion that Copperheads and other venomous snakes ought to be killed. Snakes of all kinds have a place in the natural habitat, and for us humans to place ourselves above all the other organisms of the world is a shallow opinion at best. I think that instead of trying to shape nature to our every desire, we need to instead accept that nature can be dangerous, and that the "wild world" deserves our respect-not the other way around. So, instead of reaching for the axe or hatchet, please look in the yellow pages to see if there is some animal relocation service or the like to move the animal in question out of your backyard if you can't stand to let it stay. If nothing else, perhaps call your local pet store to see if they have any employees who would be willing to move the snake for you.

    (As a side note, if I'm not mistaken most snake bites actually come from when people try to mess with or kill snakes- so please try to live and let live.)

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    junebug 8 years ago

    comment to Rick Tedder. . . with all due respect I have seen and heard about the large (sometimes 6ft.) copperheads in KY. All turned out to be corn snakes or large northern banded water snakes. Copperheads do not interbreed.

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    djpal2014 8 years ago from Plainview, Texas

    Amazing !!!!!!!!!!!

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    Amanda 8 years ago

    While copperheads can not usually climb, they can sometimes and they will coil and spring, just like all snakes. If you see a copperhead, or even suspect, leave the area, you can call some exterminators to get rid of snakes, but they will not "relocate" them, and they are sometimes expensive. I had always heard that copperheads like water and will be found there, but we have found them in the country roads sunning themselves, and in the pasture near any muddy areas. Also Copperheads are ussually fat and not as long as a rat snake/chicken snake. Great idea for keeping snakes at bay is keeping your mouse/rodent population down and keeping any animal feed (even dog food) cleaned up. Only feed what your animal will eat right now, AND we keep cats to control the mouse population - our cats tend to keep away rodents and snakes from the house and outbuildings.

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    Rick Tedder 8 years ago

    I picked up a 4ft long copperhead the other day at my fishing pond. I live in Kentucky and copperheads are very common here. The one thing that threw me about this particular snake is that although the coloring was an exact match to those I've seen before, the head was almost black in color. Could this be a cross-breed of some sort ??

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    Sierra 8 years ago

    I had 4 baby chicks and yesterday my Hubby saw they were missing..while looking around he found a VERY large snake Not sure what it was he killed it.It was a chicken snake and when he cut it open it had all four of our babies in its belly..SCARED the crud outta us..Thanks for your site it is so helpful....

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    David 8 years ago

    Thank you for the excellent writeup with pictures.

    There was a rat snake (pretty sure) hanging out of our A/C return vent in the house when I got home tonight. 30" long, and shook its tail like a rattler, just as you described. We have a young child in the house so I killed it. After it was dead, I then went on to try and identify it. Thanks again for putting this out there!!!

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    Jess 8 years ago

    Just had a black rat snake in my room today. I have no idea how it got it. I found it because of my cat hissin at it. We got a hoe and picked it up and put in a box and sent it down to the end of the yard. I find snakes facinating but they really scare me. Great information. Thank you for posting it and educating me.

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    Christy 8 years ago

    My daughter came home tonight and happened to see a copperhead snake with a frog in it's mouth. It was halfway out of the bottom of the garage door frame. It went back in. We go by there several times a day. We have kids ages 3, 6 and 14. They go out to the garage all the time to the second fridge and they go out there to fill up the dog's dish. Should I be afraid of more copperheads in the garage or walls? Will it get into the house? Is it nesting? I am afraid. Very afraid! How do we get rid of it?

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    dave -goatman  8 years ago

    how to keep snakes out of my chicken eggs -plus i had a goat die this week is a copperhead bite enough to kill a goat her jaws were a sweelled up .needs to be safe for goats and chicks ,. thanks for any help

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    Kim 8 years ago from Texas

    I can't handle snakes. I realize they, like lots of spiders, have a God given purpose, but they scare the double hockey sticks out of me.

    I have a special prayer for them thats worked wonders so far. "God, if you love the spiders/snakes, keep them out of my home, because they will die in here, and you know it."

    Haven't had one get inside my territory since!

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    countrygirl 8 years ago

    i was drivin home about an hr ago and there was a snake in the road. i wasnt sure if it was dead or alive so i backed up to look and it slithered across so i tried to hit it because it looked like a copperhead but it got in the grass and went into the bushes before i could. i know it had too much pattern in its movement to be a rat snake, but im not sure if it was a copperhead or somethin else.

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    adam z 8 years ago

    if you are close enough in the wild to see what shape a copperheads pupils are i think you may be in some trouble.

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    Pamela 8 years ago

    I live out of the city limits and last night my dog kept barking. I went out with a flashlight and found a small snake by the garage. Came running in the house and hollered at hubby to come kill a snake. He went and looked at it and told me no, it was a rat snake. He let it go. I found your page today and now I'm glad I trusted him and he didn't kill it. Snakes frighten me so bad but I will try and be better and not panic if I see this one again. Thanks for your info.

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    Killer  8 years ago

    No alive copper head is a good copper head ! thats all i have to say about that !

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    P.W.H.S. Reptile Keeper 8 years ago

    Rat snakes-can reach up to 8ft, they are good for mice and rat problems, they canbe very mean but will eventually calm down after being handled.

    Copperheads-are VENOMOUS and can put you in the hospital, they carry a hemotoxic venom which rots the flesh away. they can kill you, there are deaths on copperheads, they are just as dangerous as any other type of venomous snake, they should not be messed with unless you have many years of expierence and studys on this snake, any other questions, feel free to ask.

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    Reptile Keeper 8 years ago

    sorry but it makes me really mad when people dont have a clue what they are talking about, but if you have any questions, let me know

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    Marye Audet 8 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    Reptile Keeper, good information but I do not allow comments that contain swearing. If you care to repost with clean language I will be happy to o.k. it

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    Joanie Ruppel 8 years ago from Texas

    Thanks for the overview. We get a few rat snakes around here, and I like the tips on keeping the population down.

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    Jennifer  8 years ago

    just fount a five foot Rat Snake in the house ahhhh!!! Did not know what it was at first so I hate to say we killed it, but it was not easy those things are very strong. I hope there are not anymore snaking around. Surprised to see that one first snake we've had. I really do hate that it had to die but with a three year old and six year old running around I was not taking any chances. I did say a little pray for it afterwards. Thanks to this website I now know that it was not going to kill anyone so thank you for writing this!!!

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    dustin v 8 years ago

    if you encounter a copperhead you will know it! their skin is always easy to identify and their head is very easy to identify at a distance also! I just killed and skinned one for myself a few hours ago! i had to get it out of the neighborhood before any kids or pets got harmed! a rat snake is just as good at pest control as copperheads, so i see no use in having them around!

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    Marye Audet 8 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    If it is a ratsnake Kris the pupils of the eyes will be round, if a copperhead they will be slits.

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    kris 8 years ago

    i'm greatful for the info, but i'm still not sure my mother and i are still debating about this snake that we found is a copperhead or just a harmless ratsnake

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    Michael 8 years ago

    You're missing the most effective snake deterrents of all. Lining sulfer or terpentine around the perimeter of your home will work. A snake will not cross over either, and it will even keep the snakes you already have in your yard! Terpentine will kill your grass, but sulfer will not. It really does work.

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    romelia 8 years ago

    is it absolutely so that copperheads don't climb?

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    leroy 8 years ago

    dude this is awesome info thank you

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    yioy 8 years ago

    i hate snakes

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    Marye Audet 8 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    The chicken snakes eat mice. The best way to eradicate them is to make sure that you do not have a mouse population. :)

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    Sugar Sugar 8 years ago

    We have found three baby snakes in our home. They seem to come out mostly at night. They appear to be about a foot long, black with some grey on them. I have not gotten close enough to determine the shape of their pupils or the pattern on their backs. I am among those who prefer to keep snakes out of the house and I don't feel comfortable with my grandchildren staying over night. My husband says they are chicken snakes. We live in the country of north Texas. Our land is kept clear and mowed. How do I eradicate the snakes from my home?

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    mary 8 years ago

    Thank you for the useful information. I hope more people will follow your lead and clean up areas of concern to DISCOURAGE unwanted snake populations instead of killing snakes. Photographing a snake from a safe distance, then using the photographs and references (internet, books, professional naturalist, etc.) to correctly identify a snake is an effective way to learn about snakes and avoid killing non venomous species. This proceedure prevented me from killing a snake I mistakenly thought was (copperhead) a threat to my dogs. It can be difficult to think clearly when my adrenalin is rushing. Thankfully I took the time to carefully study and now know I have a resident corn snake I can enjoy from a distance as it does it's part in keepng nature in balance ( so I don't have to fight an out of control mouse/rat population). It also led me to this interesting site.

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    Carol 9 years ago

    I can attest to the fact that marigolds are NOT a deterent for snakes. I also heard they are good against mosquitoes. I used to plant them in the decorative pattern of my window well. The snakes used to hide in them as they became bushier.

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    Bert 9 years ago

    boo bad very bad

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    Christopher 9 years ago

    AAAH! I don’t dislike snakes , but as soon as I saw that first photo I was like “venomous!!!snake!!!!”

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    Melanie 9 years ago

    i actually have a pet copperhead, her name is Fluffy and she is just a baby right now, but when she gets bigger I wish to socialize her so that I may handle her without upsetting her. For right now though, I use a snake hook when I want to take her out to play!

    Melanie

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    Angela Harris 9 years ago from Around the USA

    I've lived in areas with Copperheads and Rattlesnakes. We call Rat Snakes 'Chicken Snakes', as you mentioned. Great information for identifying the poisonous Copperhead.

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    dafla 9 years ago

    Great info! My sister was bit by a copperhead. She was very sick for a long time, and still has pain at the bite site on occasion.

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    Isabella Snow 9 years ago

    Wow, what a cool hub. Great info!

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    Marye Audet 9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

    Actually there are very few deaths from copperheads, altho the bite can make you sick. It is very important to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect a venemous snake has bitten you. A non venemous snake bite will look much like a human bite mark, while a venemous snake will leave fang marks.

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    cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

    Nice information, the copper head snake looks deadly with its eyes, hope there is a quick remedy before the poison becomes fatal.