Utah is home to a variety of snakes, some of which are venomous and potentially dangerous to humans. Understanding the types of poisonous snakes in Utah and their behavior can help prevent snake bites. Also, it can keep you and your family safe. It is important to learn about them no matter if you live in the state or not.
Poisonous Rattlesnake Species in Utah
The three types of venomous snakes found in Utah are the Western rattlesnake, the Mojave rattlesnake, and the Great Basin rattlesnake. The Western rattlesnake is the most common of the three and is found throughout the state, while the Mojave rattlesnake is primarily found in the southwestern part of Utah. The Great Basin rattlesnake is found in the northern and central parts of the state.
All three types of rattlesnakes have distinct rattle tails and can be identified by their diamond-shaped heads and vertical pupils. However, it is important to note that not all rattlesnakes rattle before striking, and some may even strike without warning. Therefore, it is crucial to give all snakes a wide berth and avoid handling them.
1. Western Rattlesnake
This is the most widespread of the three rattlesnake species in Utah. It can be found in a variety of habitats, including deserts, forests, and grasslands. Western rattlesnakes have a distinctive rattle on their tail, which they use to warn potential predators or humans of their presence. Their venom is a mixture of toxins that can cause a range of symptoms, from pain and swelling to paralysis and even death. Western rattlesnakes typically eat small mammals, birds, and lizards.
2. Mojave Rattlesnake
The Mojave rattlesnake is found primarily in the southwestern part of Utah, in areas with hot and dry climates. It is known for its potent venom, which contains neurotoxins that can cause respiratory failure and death in humans. Mojave rattlesnakes have a more muted rattle on their tail than other species of rattlesnakes, and may not always rattle before striking. They typically eat small rodents and lizards.
3. Great Basin Rattlesnake
This rattlesnake lives mostly in the northern and central parts of Utah. It prefers high-altitude habitats such as mountains and sagebrush plains. They are the smallest of the three rattlesnake species found in Utah, with an average length of 2-3 feet. Great Basin rattlesnakes have a relatively mild venom that can cause pain, swelling, and tissue damage, but is rarely fatal to humans. They primarily eat small mammals such as rodents and rabbits.
4. The Coral Snake
In addition to rattlesnakes, Utah is also home to the coral snake, a species of venomous snake with bright red and yellow stripes. Although coral snakes are relatively rare in Utah, their venom is highly potent and can cause muscle weakness, respiratory failure, and death. If you come across a coral snake in Utah, do not handle it and seek medical attention immediately if bitten.
The venom of rattlesnakes is primarily used for hunting and immobilizing prey, but it can be lethal to humans. The symptoms of a rattlesnake bite may include pain, swelling, and discoloration around the bite, as well as nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, a rattlesnake bite can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and even death.
Did you know that many people illegally keep venomous snakes as pets? We have an article where we listed all animals that are not legally allowed to be kept as pets within the United States
Encountering One in the Wild
If you encounter a poisonous snake in Utah, it is best to give it plenty of space and back away slowly. If you are bitten, seek immediate medical attention and try to stay as calm and still as possible to slow the spread of venom. Do not try to suck out the venom or use a tourniquet, as these can do more harm than good.
Non-venomous Snakes in Utah
It is worth noting that while Utah is home to a few species of venomous snakes, the vast majority of snakes found in the state are harmless and play important roles in local ecosystems. In fact, many non-venomous snakes are beneficial to humans, as they help control populations of rodents and other pests.
If you encounter a snake in the wild, it’s best to appreciate it from a safe distance and allow it to go about its business without interference.
Conclusion: Being Informed Goes a Long Way
Poisonous are present in Utah and that is a fact. However, with some basic knowledge and caution, it is possible to avoid snake bites and stay safe. If you are hiking or spending time outdoors, be aware of your surroundings. Watch where you step, and give all snakes a wide berth. If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately and try to stay calm and still until help arrives.