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Venomous Snakes In Tennessee: 4 Species Of Poison Snakes To Look Out For

Hi! So, what are venomous snakes? Venomous snakes are reptile animals that produce venoms that they use for defense, kill their prey, and for self-purposes. Today we’re going to talk about the venomous snakes in Tennessee.

There’s a chance you can encounter these venomous snakes while hiking and doing some outdoor activities, 4 out of 34 snakes in Tennessee are venomous. Next, we’re going to talk about the 4 types of venomous snakes in Tennessee.

Copperhead Snake

Copperhead Snake
Copperhead Snake

Copperhead is a common and one of the venomous snakes in Tennessee. This pit viper can be found across the state. A medium-sized, heavy-bodied snake, with a broad triangular-shaped coppery red-head and vertical pupils (24-34 inches in length). Their main foods are mice, lizards, birds, etc.

Copperheads have keeled scales and a robust body. Northern copperheads have. Northern copper heads have a copper-colored head with no markings and a reddish-brown, coppery body with chestnut brown crossbands, cool right?

Copperheads have fangs where the venom comes from which causes the red blood cells to break down and is used to immobilize their prey.

How will you identify if it’s a copperhead snake? We will identify them when their triangle-shaped head is disproportionately huge in comparison to its shorter neck and they are large snakes that grow to be about 3 feet long when fully grown, lastly, their pupils are slit-like similar to a cat.

Copperheads prefer to conceal in the cooler regions and are most active in the late afternoon and early evening.

Expert Tip: During winter they hibernate, and they usually breed in the spring (though they can also mate in the fall) and they give birth to 3-10 offspring in August or September.

Western Cottonmouth

Western Cottonmouth
Western Cottonmouth

Cottonmouth snakes, sometimes known as “water moccasins” are found throughout the western third of Tennessee, including countries along the Highland Rim’s Northern Edge. They are dark olive-brown to virtually black, with dark crossbands that may or may not be apparent. Tennessee is home to several deadly snakes.

How do these venomous snakes lay eggs? Once every three years, it can give to a litter of 10-20 live cottonmouth snakes. Water moccasins do not lay eggs like other pit vipers. These eggs are retained inside the female’s body until they are ready to ‘hatch’ after that, females give birth to live offspring.

What does a cottonmouth look like? The Head and the Eyes. When viewed from the top, a cottonmouth’s head is arrow-shaped and roughly triangular, when danger comes, some non-venomous snake species flatten their heads to make them appear larger than they are. Therefore, identifying cottonmouths by head is more challenging.

Do you love to swim? can a cottonmouth bite you underwater and swim with you? Oh, scary. The answer is yes. Cottonmouths eat fish and can bite underwater, as their Latin name (Agkistrodon piscivorous) suggests.

The cottonmouth distinguishes itself from other water snakes by swimming with its body high in the water and its head lifted high as if it were proud a proud pharaoh.

Did you know? That each year approximately 8,000 bites are poisonous, resulting in 12 deaths on average. If you’re bitten by a cottonmouth moccasin, for that matter, take it seriously. The venom of the cottonmouth moccasin is very potent and can kill you.

What does the western cottonmouth eat or prey for? Western cottonmouths are opportunistic feeders who take whatever prey is available. They frequently hunt at rookeries of wading birds and consume the young that fall from the nest.

Western cottonmouths eat a wide range of creatures, including fish, birds, other smaller snakes, rodents, and frogs.

Timber Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake
Timber Rattlesnake

This Timber Rattlesnake is Tennessee’s largest and most lethal venomous snake, which may be found throughout the state. A huge, hefty body with a massive, triangular snakehead with a vertical pupil, and the unique rattle at the end of the tail (36.0 to 60.0 inches in length) is very intimidating, isn’t it?

Do you want to know how does a Rattlesnake behave? Timber rattlesnakes are active at all hours of the day and night, although they spend most of the time coiled and waiting for prey to cross their paths. This type of venomous snake is known for its large head and narrow neck.

Their yellow eyes and elliptical pupils are very intimidating. They feature V or W-shaped crossbar markings on their backs, which create a good pattern. They have a unique rattler on their tail consisting of unusual scale.

Are they hostile or non-aggressive? Timber rattlesnakes, on the other hand, aren’t that aggressive. Only if provoked will they strike (stepped on and physically threatened). They will avoid conflict if left alone and harmless. Bite wounds are infrequent and rarely lethal.

Can you kill a Timber rattlesnake? No, because they are protected, it is illegal to kill Timber rattlesnake in this state. The only exception is for a homeowner who believes a snake is genuinely dangerous. It means that it is always illegal to go out into the wild and kill a Timber rattlesnake in its natural habitat in Tennessee.

Expert Tip: What prey does a Timber rattlesnake hunt? Small to medium-sized rodents including shrews, squirrels, mice, chipmunks, and other mammals are the main prey of timber rattlesnakes in the wild.

Pygmy Rattlesnake

Pygmy Rattlesnake
Pygmy Rattlesnake

The Pygmy Rattlesnake (known as the Pigmy) is Tennessee’s smallest and least-known venomous snake across their state. It’s the smallest among the four venomous snakes, brightly colored rattlesnake (length 15.0 to 20.0 inches) with a vertical pupil, narrow tail, and modest rattle.

Many snakes look just the same. So how can we identify a Pygmy rattlesnake? You will see a red or orange dorsal stripe running from the eye to the jaw, and a red-brown to black bar runs from the eye to the jaw. This type of venomous snake is most likely to be found in the summer.

The soft rattle at the end of the snake’s tail makes a faint buzzing sound. You can identify them as soon as you look at them because of their size and pattern.

How dangerous do you think this Pygmy Rattlesnake is? This dusky pygmy rattlesnake only grows to be around two feet long, a fraction of the size of its more lethal brethren. Although the snake’s venom is not fatal, it is hemotoxic and can cause terrible agony and swelling.

The bites of these snakes are painful, although they are rarely fatal to humans and pets. Children and tiny animals, on the other hand, are more vulnerable to bites.

How to identify venomous snakes?

If you are holding or looking at a snake, how will you identify if it’s venomous or non-venomous? Interesting topic, right? So, we can identify a snake when you look at its head. The heads of venomous snakes are usually wide and triangular.

Although most snakeheads appear to be identical, when you look near at the snake’s jaw you can sight the variance in it.

What will you do if you get bitten by a venomous snake?

This topic is important for all of us to know about this, especially for those who like outdoor activities such as hiking and for snake lovers. So, the first thing you need to do is a note or remember the time you got bitten by the snake is to stay calm or don’t panic and keep still since movement might hasten the venom’s passage through your body.

The next step is to wash it carefully with water and soap. Because the bite area is most certainly swell, remove any tight jewelry or jewelry, to relieve swelling and discomfort you need to apply a clean, cool compress or a wet dressing to the affected region. And lastly, go seek help from a doctor.

Expert Tip: Make sure to monitor your heartbeat and breathing.

Are there water moccasins in Tennessee?

Water Moccasins
Water Moccasins

We talked about this type of venomous snake a while ago, it’s also known as “Western cottonmouth”. The answer is, yes. There are water moccasins in the western third of Tennessee.

On the other hand, many people claim to have seen cottonmouths swimming in East Tennessee’s rivers and lakes, but water moccasins are exclusively found on the state’s western border. Swamps, drainage ditches, marshes, streams, lakes, and ponds are among the main aquatic and wetland habitats they like.

Are brown snakes poisonous in Tennessee?

Did you know? That brown snakes in Tennessee are not venomous and do not constitute a severe threat. Yes, they aren’t dangerous, but you should still be cautious when dealing with snakes.


Based on my research, my opinion about these venomous snakes in the state of Tennessee is that these snakes, venomous or non-venomous, are truly dangerous to all of us human beings. Being friends with them is fine as long as you don’t hurt them because they won’t hesitate to bite you and it may endanger your life.

They are meant to be outside in the wilderness wandering around freely without any harm.

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About Grace Hocker

Hi, my name is Grace and I am a pet lover. Ever since 5 years old, I've owned some sort of pet from Bearded Dragons to Rabbits. I have dedicated my life to helping pets, and am here to help you get the best for your pet!