Wyoming RV Sales & Rentals Blog

  • Published on Jul 10, 2015
    Friends and Foes: A Guide to Snakes

    When camping or hiking it’s likely that you’ll run into snakes. Snakebites can be very dangerous depending on the species; others are harmless and their bites require minimal treatment. As a rule of thumb, keep your distance and do not provoke any snake to bite. However, if you happen to be bitten by one, it is paramount that you identify the species and receive the proper medical attention.  


    Dangerous Snakes


    Coral Snakes

    Coral snakes are native to the South and Southwest regions of the United States. They have red, yellow, and black markings that make them easy to confuse with the nonvenomous kingsnakes. You can typically distinguish the two snakes by remembering the rhyme “red next to yellow will kill a fellow, red next to black is a friend of jack.” While coral snakes are very reclusive and will not bite unless provoked, they posses one of the most potent venom in the united states. It is extremely important to seek medical attention when bitten by a coral snake. 


    RattlesnakeRattlesnakes can be identified by the button-like ratte at the end of their tales. They are pit vipers, all pit vipers have thick, relatively short bodies, narrow neck with wide, triangular heads. Rattlesnakes frequent trails and typically hunt at night but can be active during the day as well. Rattlesnakes are common throughout the US and are the leading cause of snakebites in america. However they will not bite unless provoked, they will warn you of their presence by rattling their tails. They are extremely venomous and it is important to seek medical attention immediately.  

    Water Moccasins/Cottonmouths

    Cotton MouthWater Moccasins, also known as Cottonmouths, are native to the Southeastern United States and are relatively aggressive snakes. Rather than slither away, a water moccasin will stand its ground and do a threat display. This involves opening it mouth, exposing its white interior, as well as hissing and pulling its body into a S shape. They are the world’s only semi aquatic viper and are frequently near bodies of water. Adult water moccasins have dark tan to black skin with faint dark brown or black crossbands. The young snakes are much lighter and have brown or orange crossbands with a yellow tail. It is important to seek immediate medical attention when bitten by one. 


    Commonly Misunderstood Snakes 


    Garter Snakes

    Garter snakeGarter snakes are common throughout the United States and are venomous. However they are completely harmless to humans. They prey upon insects, frogs, rodents and sometimes fish.  When disturbed they will typically hide their head and flip their tails. If particularly provoked they may coil and strike. There are many different species and subspecies of garter snake making their appearance varied. They are small to medium in size and are frequently kept as pets. 

    Kingsnakes/Milk snakes

    KingsnakeKingsnakes, particularly the subspecies classified as milk snakes, are often mistaken for the deadly coral snake. They are harmless to humans and are found throughout the United States. They are able to be distinguished from coral snakes because their red and black stripes touch rather than the red and yellow touching stripes of a coral snake. Just remember the rhyme “red next to yellow will kill a fellow, red next to black is a friend of jack.” Due to their harmless nature and unique coloring they are frequently kept as pets.

    Gopher Snakes

    Gopher snakeGopher snakes are native to the western half of the United States. They are often mistaken for the Diamondback Rattlesnake due to their coloring. A easy way to distinguish the two is that a gopher doesn't have a rattle and its head is narrower. The gopher snake is often confused with a rattlesnake due to its odd defensive mechanism. It will puff up its body and curl itself into the classic strike pose of a pit viper. However, rather than delivering an open-mouthed strike, the gopher snake is known for striking with a closed mouth, using its blunt nose to "warn-off" possible predators. Also, it will often shake its tail, confusing predators into thinking it is a rattlesnake. It’s particularly effective in mimicking the sound when on dry leaves or gravel. Despite its master mimicry of a rattlesnake, the gopher snake is completely harmless.


    How to Treat a Snakebite 

    If you or someone you are with is bitten by a snake, immediately get away from the snake. If the snake feels threatened it may bite again, so moving a minimum of 20 feet away from it is ideal. After you are safely away from the snake, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Do not elevate the wounded area above the victim’s heart and try to keep it as immobile as possible. Remove any jewelry or clothing near the bite area because the area will swell. Let the area bleed for a few minutes to get rid of excess and do not try to suck the venom out. Apply a clean bandage and make sure the victim moves as little as possible on their way to a hospital. 


    Sonny’s RVs

    Want to begin a new RV adventure? Let Sonny’s RVs help! We have a variety of new and used RVs to choose from! Already have a RV? Sonny’s RV can service it! Stop by our location at 5000 E. Yellowstone Highway or give us a call at 307-237-5000 and let us show you why shopping with us can make all the difference.

    Photos by Julia Larson, Philip Kahn, Mike Pingleton and LA Dawson

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