Most snakes are non-venomous and not aggressive unless threatened. There are 37 species of snakes found in North Carolina, but five venomous snakes cause the majority of snake bite poisonings.

  1. Copperhead
  2. Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin)
  3. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  4. Pigmy Rattlesnake
  5. Timber Rattlesnake

Venomous Snake Characteristics

triangular or diamond-shaped head
elliptical or “cat-like”
long, movable fangs
facial pits located below the eyes

Non-venomous snake characteristics

smooth, tapered head
round pupils
no fangs, have small teeth
no pits

Venomous snakes leave one or two puncture wounds.

If bitten by a snake, you SHOULD:

  • Sit down and stay calm
  • Gently wash the area with warm, soapy water
  • Remove any jewelry or tight clothing near the bite site
  • Keep the bitten area still, if possible, and raise it to heart level
  • Call the Carolinas Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222.

If bitten by a snake, you SHOULD NOT:

  • Cut the bitten area to try to drain the venom. This can worsen the injury.
  • Ice the area. Icing causes additional tissue damage
  • Make and apply a tourniquet or any tight bandage. It’s better for the venom to flow through the body than for it to stay in one area.
  • Suck or use a suction device to remove the venom
  • Attempt to catch or kill the snake.

If a snakebite victim is having chest pain, difficulty breathing, face swelling, or has lost consciousness, call 911 immediately.

Call Carolinas Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for questions about a snake bite or for more information.