Since we covered the venomous snakes of our mountain regions last week, we thought it only fair to concentrate on our coastal snakes this week. All these snakes listed below have been found in the coastal ranges
Eastern Coral Snake
Pygmy rattlers are the smallest rattlesnake in the US. Although usually gray with darkish spots down the center and along its’ sides, the ones found in Hyde, Beaufort, and Pamlico tend to have a pinkish background color. Sometimes, they will have an orange stripe (similar to the one seen on the canebrake rattler) running down its’ back. They are fairly rare, but have been found all the way over in Gaston County.
Eastern Coral Snake
The Eastern Coral Snake is easily distinquished by the red, black, and yellow bands and the slender body. Often, scarlet kingsnakes and scarlet snakes are mistaken for the coral snake..however, one quick way to determine what you may have encountered is that these two snakes have red snouts, while a coral snake sports a black snout. They love a sandy habitat, and tend to stay underground..and these snakes are also considered endangered in North Carolina.
There are a few myths surrounding this snake..one is that they have to chew to inject their venom..not true! They do chew, as the fangs are small, but chewing is not necessary for venom to be released. They do tend to hold on tightly while waiting for the venom to take effect, and respiratory failure is the usual cause of death, as the venom attacks the central nervous system.
A little ditty that helps to remind people of which is which..if the red and black bands are next to each other, chances are you do not have a coral snake in front of you. However, if the red and yellow banks are touching, you need to head the other way with all speed.
“Red and Black, friend of Jack!”
“Red and Yellow, kill a fellow!”
Or as one of our followers suggested, think of a traffic light..if red and yellow are touching, you need to vacate the premises!
Cottonmouths are a type of pit viper, and tend to be olive to brown colors on their background, dark crossbands, and are heavy snakes. Some adults can appear to be black, as the coloring is so dark, while the younger cottonmouth can have a reddish brown tint. This, combined with the fact that they can also have yellow tails when young (used to lure prey), make a young cottonmouth often hard to determine vs a copperhead.
They are active at night, and like to feed around shorelines on frogs, rodents, and other easy prey. They like swamps, canals, and any slow-moving water.
One interesting fact about cottonmouths? Not only will they gape their mouths when threatened, but they will also rattle their tails and flatten their bodies when they perceive a threat..and can also release a strong musk from their scent glands.
In this example of a “canebrake” rattler, please note the orangish stripe down the back. Most commonly found in the coastal and piedmont areas, we’ve included them because they are actually a type of timber rattler. Often, they sport a pink hue for their base background color. It prefers rocky areas, under or in stumps, fields, swamps, and wooded areas adjacent to fields, as they prefer to feed on rodents and other small mammals.
Timber Rattlesnakes and Eastern Diamondbacks are also found in our coastal region, however, since we covered those in our mountain post last week, I am not recapping them at this time. You can find the information by checking our post for last week under the mountain tab found at the top of the website, okay?
So there you have it, folks..lovely critters, aren’t they? Before we go, we’d like to also reprint what to do if you do get bitten by one of these snakes, and have to travel to reach help, okay?
• Move away from the snake to avoid sustaining further possible bites
• Remain calm
• Remove rings, watches, bracelets
• Do not cut the snakebite
• Do not apply ice
• Do not attempt to suck the venom out with your mouth
• Do not administer alcohol or drugs
It is also recommended that, if possible, you circle the bite site with a marker, which helps medical personnel judge the severity of the bite, but this is not something to spend time on if you do not have a marker.
**You DO, however, want to keep the bitten person’s heart rate down, so try to stay as calm as possible, lower the bitten extremity lower than the heart, and also apply a light constriction bandage if possible, to help slow the spread of venom, just above the bite site.
And with all possible speed, get the bitten person to a hospital or some type relief station with anti-venom.
Although our information was taken from a variety of sources, we found the following link to be most helpful in the area of NC snakes: