How to Determine if a Snake is Venomous

How to Determine if a Snake is Venomous

When a dog is bit by a snake, how do you know if the snake was venomous or nonvenomous?

There are over 150,000 venomous snake bites that occur to dogs and cats every year in North America. It is estimated that 99% of bites to pets are from a family of venomous snakes known as pit vipers. Members of the pit viper family include rattlesnakes, copperheads and water moccasins.

Here are some tips to help you identify a venomous pit viper from a nonvenomous snake:

Snake Characteristics Venomous Nonvenomous
Eyes Elliptical pupils Round pupils
Head Broad triangular head Rounded narrow head
Teeth Prominent fangs- can be retracted so may not be seen Often have many small teeth
Face Deep pit between nostril and eye No pit
Size Size of snake does not determine if it is venomous Size of snake does not determine if it is venomous
Length Size of snake does not determine if it is venomous Size of snake does not determine if it is venomous

All snake bites, even nonvenomous bites, can be dangerous. All bites have the risk of causing infection or allergic reactions. Any bite to a dog should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

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