Maryland is a state in the northeastern region of the United States, known for its beautiful coastline, historic landmarks, and diverse wildlife. While Maryland has a relatively small population of venomous snakes compared to some of the southern states, it is still home to several species that can be dangerous to humans. In this article, we will explore the venomous snakes found in Maryland, their habitats, and behaviors, as well as what to do if you encounter one.
1. Copperhead Snake (Agkistrodon contortrix)
The copperhead snake is one of the most common venomous snakes found in Maryland. These snakes are usually found in wooded areas, near streams, and in rocky outcroppings. They are most active during the summer months and at night. Copperhead snakes are responsible for the majority of snakebites in Maryland.
Copperheads are easily identified by their distinct pattern of light and dark brown bands that wrap around their bodies. They have a triangular-shaped head and are usually around 2 to 3 feet long. Copperheads are not aggressive, but they will bite if they feel threatened. Their venom is primarily hemotoxic, which means it affects the blood and tissues around the bite area. Symptoms of a copperhead bite include swelling, pain, and discoloration around the bite site.
2. Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
The timber rattlesnake is another venomous snake found in Maryland. These snakes are usually found in wooded areas, rocky outcroppings, and along streams. They are most active during the summer months and at night. Timber Rattlesnakes are responsible for a small number of snakebites in Maryland.
Timber Rattlesnakes can be easily identified by their distinctive rattle at the end of their tail, which they use as a warning signal. They have a triangular-shaped head and are usually around 3 to 4 feet long. Timber Rattlesnakes are not aggressive, but they will bite if they feel threatened. Their venom is primarily hemotoxic and can cause symptoms such as swelling, pain, and discoloration around the bite site.
Non-venomous Snakes in Maryland
Apart from the two vipers, there are some common snakes in Maryland that are not venomous. Although not dangerous to humans, it makes sense to familiarize yourself with them. The last thing you want is to confuse the two types.
Non-venomous species are important in the ecosystem. They control rodent populations and provide a food source for larger predators. This makes them as important as any other part of the food chain. Here are a few examples of non-venomous snakes in Maryland:
1. Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsoletus)
The black rat snake is a common non-venomous snake throughout Maryland. These snakes live mostly in wooded areas, farmland, and around buildings. They are active during the day and are excellent climbers.
Black Rat Snakes can be identified by their solid black color, although younger snakes may have lighter markings. They have a long, slender body and can grow up to 6 feet in length. Black rat snakes are not dangerous to humans and will usually flee if they feel threatened.
2. Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)
The eastern garter snake is another common non-venomous snake that calls Maryland home. These snakes usually live in grassy areas, fields, and forests. They are active during the day and possess great swimming ability.
Eastern Garter Snakes have a very distinct coloration, which includes yellow, green, and brown stripes running down their bodies. They have a slender body and can grow up to 3 feet long. Eastern garter snakes are not dangerous to humans and will usually flee if they feel threatened.
3. Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus)
The ring-necked snake is a small non-venomous snake that lives in Maryland’s wooded areas and damp habitats. They are most active at night and are famous for their burrowing ability.
Ring-necked Snakes have distinctive rings around their neck and their grey-black coloration. They have a slender body and usually grow up to 10-15 inches in length. Ring-necked snakes are not dangerous to humans and will usually flee if they feel threatened.
1. What to do if you encounter one?
If you encounter a venomous snake in Maryland, it is important to remain calm and give the snake a wide berth. Do not try to handle or kill the snake. This will increase the chances of getting a bite. Should that ever happen to you, seek medical attention immediately. Do not try to suck the venom out or apply a tourniquet, as this can make the situation worse.
When it comes to Maryland wildlife, concerns about venomous snakes often arise, but exploring Hawaii snake population can offer insights into the presence of poisonous species.
2. Are venomous snake bites common in Maryland?
Venomous snake bites in Maryland are relatively rare. Both the Copperhead and Timber Rattlesnake, the two venomous snake species native to Maryland, are generally shy and non-aggressive unless provoked or cornered. Most snake bites occur when humans accidentally step on or handle the snakes. By being aware of their presence and giving them space, the risk of snake bites can be minimized.
3. Are there any precautions I can take to avoid them?
While encounters with venomous snakes are relatively rare, there are precautions you can take to reduce the likelihood of an encounter. When hiking or exploring natural areas, stay on designated paths and avoid tall grass, rock crevices, and areas with thick underbrush where snakes may be hiding. Wear sturdy footwear and long pants to provide some protection. Be cautious when reaching or stepping over logs or rocks, as snakes may be resting there. By staying aware of your surroundings and respecting the natural habitats of snakes, you can minimize the chances of encountering them.
Maryland is not famous for its abundance of venomous snakes, but it is still important to be aware of the ones that are present. By learning about their habitats and behaviors, as well as what to do if you encounter one, you can stay safe and enjoy all that Maryland has to offer.
While both venomous snake species are dangerous, it is worth noting that snake encounters and bites are relatively rare, and they typically occur when humans accidentally provoke or disturb the snakes. It is important to exercise caution and give these snakes a wide berth if you come across them in their natural habitats.