March 29, 2012, 5:08 PM
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This is a photo, taken from a reliable internet website, of a copper head snake

This is a photo, taken on my backporch today, of a similar-looking snake. What does this have to do with transitioning to a way of living that is more inwardly rich, using less energy, and becoming more resilient? Not much, I admit. But  in the interest of all of us living in the Southeastern part of the US, I’d think it would be worthwhile to be able to identify ‘good’ snakes as well as bad boys. I’d think you’d want to know what’s under YOUR porch (or in your chicken coop, or cuddled up to your dog, or in your garden…) So… can anyone help the rest of us identify this beautiful, but perhaps deadly, creature? Please post your thoughts in the ‘comments’ section below if you think you know.

PS Do YOU know what to do if you’re bitten by a snake? Nah, me neither, but I’m gonna find out and I’ll let you know!

13 Comments so far
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I think it is an Eastern MIlk Snake.

Comment by Anne B.


Comment by Anne B.

From the angle of the photo it looks as if the snake has a rounded head, which indicates non-poisinous. If i could see it in person, which i’d love to, I could look at the eyes and see if they are slanted, which would indicate a poisonous critter.
It’s just too darn hard to identify in this photo.
Btw, it used to be illegal to kill a snake in Tennessee, I think it still is.
You lucky woman!!

Comment by Doug

It looks exactly like a snake I found on our property last year. The first time I saw it, the person I was with thought it might be a rattlesnake, but then when I saw it again, I was able to get a really good look (I was standing on a large rock looking down). After staring for a while, I went to the computer & looked at almost every snake picture I could find, but couldn’t match it. I didn’t see any rattles on it. Anyway, I wear my shoes around here now. Snakes are GREAT…but I still get a little afraid, before I shake it off. I prefer seeing the black snakes. Great picture, by the way.

Comment by Cassa

No problem, Sam. Looks like a juvenile black rat snake to me. At that stage they have that pattern instead of the solid black of the adult. During my many years of being the “go to” herpetologist at ETSU, I found that 98 out of every 100 snakes killed in the name of “copperhead” were juvenile black rat snakes. The other two were northern water snakes 🙂

Comment by jerry

Gosh I HATE that we killed it! Black rat snakes are good to have around, aren’t they Jerry? How can they have all those markings and then be so black when they get bigger? Of course, wouldn’t a black snake just LOVE to eat my chickens and their eggs? Or are they too big for such a snake? From now on I’m gonna capture any snakes I find, and send you the picture right away. If forgot that you’re an expert! Thank you for identifying this poor misunderstood creature for us all.

Comment by simpleintn

Sam, what you saw is NOT a copperhead. I hope you didn’t kill it. Look at the sides of the head of the copperhead. It has a triangular shape…the pit as in pit viper. Your little guy ‘s head was about the same shape as it’s body. Also a poisonous snake has an eye something like a cat….vertical pupil. Although few people get close enough to examine the eye!

Comment by Deanna Richardson

Yes, it was identified as a juvenile black rat snake. You’re right, I didn’t get close enough to see the pupil but I understand about the head shape now. Thanks everyone, for pointing that out

Comment by simpleintn

Sam, a field guide is a MUST! Killing a beneficial creature like this one is sad indeed. I also feel there was enough information from that photo to identify it as non-venomous, slender head the most obvious characteristic.

Comment by elliehjemmet

My vote is for the Eastern Milksnake as well – a non-poisonous variety described beautifully in Wiki. I like the full array of Eastern TN photos laid out at http://www.tn.gov/twra/pdfs/snakesposter.pdf . Takes a while to download, as it is a PDF, but then you’ll have the identifying poster. Pssssst. They DO eat eggs!

Comment by Sandy Westin

Thanks for the info Sandy.Now we have a decision: juvenile black snake or Eastern Milksnake. Jerry, can you comment?

Comment by simpleintn

A milksnake is a more colorful snake than the one you photographed and they are not particularly common around here whereas black rats are extremely common. With regard to the safety of your chickens the adults are definately too big to be in danger. Eggs? Not sure.

Other ID marks on juvenile rat would the foremost blotch at the back of the head is Y shaped and a black line along the side of the head running through the eye. I generally used the Y blotch as a quick check.

Is a black rat snake beneficial? That depends upon your point of view. Most rats and mice have a low opinion of rat snakes.

Comment by jerry

Thanks Jerry. We saw another one just like it last night

“Maybe a person’s time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food.”


Comment by simpleintn

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