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Species: Snakes

Protection Level
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Federally Protected No
State Protected Yes
VA Nuisance Species No

 

There are numerous species of Snake in Virginia that a landowner may find on their property. Most snakes in Virginia are harmless if not beneficial to humans. This web page only helps identify the four species of snake that are venomous in Virginia. To identify other species of snake in Virginia visit the Virginia Herpetological Society.


Identification
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Northern Copperhead
Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen

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Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen

 

county distribution map for Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen

Eastern Cottonmouth
Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus

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Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus

 

county distribution map for Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus

Canebrake Rattlesnake
Crotalus horridus atricaudatus
State Endangered

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Crotalus horridus atricaudatus

 

county distribution map for Crotalus horridus atricaudatus

Timber Rattlesnake
Crotalus horridus horridus

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Crotalus horridus horridus
[© David Arbour]

 

county distribution map for Crotalus horridus horridus

 


Identification Key
Virginia Herpetological Society
 

 



Legal
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The snakes are classified as a non-game protected species. Virginia code allows for the taking of a species found committing or about to commit depredation upon ornamental or shade trees, agricultural crops, wildlife, livestock or other property or when concentrated in numbers and manners as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance 29.1-100. The nuisance classification does not pertain to threatened or endangered species, animals classified as game or fur-bearing animals, and those species protected by state or federal law. All species of snake except the cranebrake are capable of being classified as a nuisance by Virginia landowners. The cranebrake rattlesnake is a state endangered species and therefore can not be taken at any time. As with all wildlife non-lethal control measures should be exhausted before lethal measures are used.

In Virginia it is illegal to

  • set a trap where it would be likely to injure persons, dogs, stock or fowl 29.1-521,
  • not visit all traps once each day and remove all animals caught 29.1-521,
  • transport, release, or relocate a snake anywhere other than the property it was caught on 4VAC15-30-50, and
  • poison any animal (including snakes) other than rats and mice on your property 4VAC15-40-50.

In Virginia it is legal to

  • classify a snake (except cranebrake rattlesnake, is state protected) as a nuisance if it is committing or about to commit depredation upon ornamental or shade trees, agricultural crops, wildlife, livestock or other property or when concentrated in numbers and manners as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance therefore allowing for the taking of the animal. §29.1-100

 

 

Management Options
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Virginia Sources

A Guide to Snakes in Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Other sources

Best practices for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators in New York State

Dealing with Nuisance Wildlife, Maryland Cooperative Extension (need to scroll to appropriate species)

Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage- 1994

Snakes, Maryland Cooperative Extension

 

 

Life History
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Life History information can be found at the Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service Web page.

Northern Copperhead

Eastern Cottonmouth

Canebrake Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake


Disease
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There are many diseases that wildlife species are capable of carrying and transferring to humans (zoonotic diseases). While all zoonotic diseases are a serious threat to humans this website will only address those that are a concern for Virginia residents.

Salmonellosis