Mississippi, known for its warm and humid climate, is perfect for snakes. As such, it is home to a variety of snake species including many that are venomous. While most snakes are harmless and play important roles in the ecosystem, it is essential to be aware of the venomous snakes in Mississippi to ensure your safety and take appropriate precautions when encountering them.
1. Copperhead Snake (Agkistrodon contortrix)
The copperhead is among the most common dangerous snakes in Mississippi. It is also one of the most well-known in the overall family of venomous snakes. They are known for their distinctive coloration, with a copper-colored head and reddish-brown body with hourglass-shaped bands. Copperheads are typically found in wooded areas, swamps, and along riverbanks where they thrive. They are known for their camouflage and may blend in with their surroundings, making them difficult to spot.
2. Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
The cottonmouth, also known as the water moccasin, has its natural habitat in the state of Mississippi. They are semi-aquatic and are often found near bodies of water, such as swamps, marshes, and creeks. Cottonmouths are known for their dark coloration, ranging from olive-green to black, and their distinctive “cotton-white” mouth, which they display when threatened. They are famously aggressive and should be approached with caution.
3. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)
The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is a venomous pit viper that can be found in Mississippi. They are the largest venomous snake in North America and are known for their diamond-shaped patterns on their back and a rattle on their tail, which they use as a warning signal. Eastern Diamondbacks are typically found in pine forests, mixed woodlands, and sandy areas. They are known to be shy and generally avoid human encounters, but caution should be exercised if you come across one.
4. Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
The timber rattlesnake is another venomous snake common in the state. They are known for their yellow, gray, or brown coloration and distinct timber-like pattern on their back. Timber Rattlesnakes are found in various habitats, including forests, swamps, and grasslands. They are generally shy and will avoid humans, but caution should be taken when encountering them.
5. Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)
Pygmy rattlesnakes are small venomous snakes that can be found in Mississippi. They are known for their small size, averaging around 1-2 feet in length, and their distinct pattern of light and dark bands on their back. Pygmy Rattlesnakes are found in a variety of habitats, including pine forests, hardwood forests, and swamps. They are usually docile but may become defensive if/when provoked.
6. Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius)
The coral snake is a venomous snake with distinctive bright coloration, including bands of red, yellow, and black. Coral Snakes are typically found in wooded areas, marshes, and sandy soils. They are shy and reclusive snakes that spend a lot of time underground, so they are not commonly encountered. However, their venom is highly potent, and a bite can be dangerous. It is important to exercise caution and avoid handling or disturbing Coral Snakes if you come across one.
7. Eastern Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
The eastern cottonmouth, also known as the eastern water moccasin, is a subspecies of the regular (western) cottonmouth. Like its western cousin, the eastern variety is semi-aquatic and commonly found in swampy or marshy areas. They are known for their dark coloration and “cotton-white” mouth, which they display when threatened. Eastern cottonmouths are generally considered to be less aggressive than their Western counterparts, but caution should still be exercised if you encounter one.
Our website provides information on the different types of venomous snakes in Minnesota, which can be useful for those looking to learn more about the topic.
Safety Precautions and What to Do if Bitten
Encountering a venomous snake can be dangerous, but there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of a bite:
1. Stay alert and watch where you step, especially when walking in wooded or swampy areas. Avoid reaching into hidden or obscured areas with your bare hands.
2. Wear protective clothing such as boots, long pants, as well as gloves when in snake-prone areas.
3. Keep a safe distance and do not attempt to handle or disturb any snake, including venomous species.
4. If you encounter a venomous snake, slowly back away and give it space to retreat.
5. If you are bitten by a snake, seek medical attention immediately. Do not attempt to suck out the venom or use a tourniquet
Snakes are generally shy creatures that prefer to avoid human encounters. Most snake bites occur when humans attempt to handle or provoke snakes. If you encounter a venomous snake in Mississippi, it is best to observe from a safe distance and give the snake space to retreat. Seeking immediate medical attention if bitten by a venomous snake is crucial for proper treatment. Prevention, awareness, and respect for these creatures and their natural habitats are key to coexisting safely with snakes in Mississippi or any other area where venomous snakes may be found.