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SNAKES in Connecticut
NATUR AL AREAS
C T TA X CHECK -OFF
S CIE SPE ERED ANG END
Written by Jenny Dickson and Julie Victoria Graphic Design by Paul Fusco
This publication was made possible through the Partnerships for Wildlife Program, the Southern New England Herpetological Association, and your contributions to the Connecticut Endangered Species/ Wildlife Income Tax Checkoff Fund.
The DEP is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. In conformance with the ADA individuals with disabilities who need information in an alternative format, to allow them to benefit and/or participate in the agency's programs and services, should call TDD (860)-424-3000 and make their request to the receptionist. Requests for accommodations to attend meetings and/or educational programs, sponsored by the DEP, must be made at least two weeks prior to the program date. These requests may be made directly to Marcia Z. Bonitto, ADA Coordinator, via e-mail: Marcia.Bonitto@po.state.ct.us
A Guide to Snake Identification
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Natural Resources Wildlife Division
Hundreds of snakes are needlessly killed each year because of mistaken identity, fear, and misunderstanding. Very often when a snake is found near a home, people panic and may even assume that the snake is dangerous or venomous. Few Connecticut residents realize that they are unlikely to encounter a venomous snake around their home. The two venomous snake species found in Connecticut, the timber rattlesnake and the copperhead, do not have widespread distributions. These venomous snakes, along with the other 12 Connecticut snake species, are not aggressive and will only bite if threatened or handled. If left alone, snakes pose no threat to people. The Wildlife Division has developed this snake identification guide to help educate people about snakes, thereby minimizing unwarranted concern when a snake is encountered. The Division hopes that once people are able to properly identify the snakes that live in and around their homes, they will be more understanding and tolerant of these beneficial animals. The guide also includes information on snake control and who to contact for additional assistance.
In the Home
Snakes may enter homes through pencilsized cracks or holes along a foundation, along unsealed wire or pipe conduits, or through basement doors and windows that do not fit securely. These openings should be sealed to keep snakes and other wildlife out of your home.
If you discover a snake in your home, try not to scare it into hiding. If possible, open a nearby door and use a broom to push it outside. An empty pail or wastebasket can be slowly placed over a small or coiled snake. Place something heavy on top of the container to trap the snake. Carefully slide a piece of heavy cardboard under the container and then carry the trapped snake out of the house.
Identification and Removal Assistance
For the name of a snake removal specialist, contact the Wildlife Division's Hartford office: 860-424-3011.
For help identifying a snake or for additional information, contact the Nonharvested Wildlife Program at the Division's Franklin office: 860-642-7239.
Conant, R. and J. T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of eastern and central North America. 3d ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 450pp.
Klemens, M. W. 1993. Amphibians and reptiles of Connecticut and adjacent regions. Bull. State Geol. Nat. Hist. Surv. of Connecticut. 112:1-318
Peterson, R. C. and R. W. Fritsch. 1986. Connecticut's venomous snakes: The timber rattlesnake and northern copperhead. Bull. State Geol. Nat. Hist. Surv. of Connecticut. 111:1-48
In the Yard
Unlike some other wildlife species, snakes do not cause damage to homes or yards. A snake found in a yard is best left alone. It is likely that the snake has lived there unnoticed for a long time and may never be seen again. With few exceptions, most snakes are secretive and rarely seen, preferring to spend their time hidden under stones, logs, and boards. Homeowners who wish to discourage snakes from living close to their homes should remove hiding places for snakes and their prey: rock piles, wood piles, tall grass, and brush; cracks in concrete walkways, driveways, steps, and patios; and sheds or porches with space under the floor. Spilled bird seed, pet food, household garbage, and similar items attract mice and rats which in turn attract snakes.
An expensive measure for when snakes must be completely excluded from an area is the building of a snake-proof fence. A fence can be constructed using ?-inch hardware cloth or plastic erosion-control fabric buried 2 inches at the bottom, angled outward 30 to 40 degrees, and standing about 3 feet high. Gates or corners must meet tightly. These fences require continuous maintenance and may not be needed if habitat changes are made. Before installing snake-proof fences, make sure the area is devoid of snakes. Snake repellents are available; however, none have been proven effective.
If you suspect a snake in your yard is venomous, observe it from a safe distance and call the Wildlife Division for advice.
Status of Connecticut Snakes
Snake populations in Connecticut have declined because of habitat loss, unnecessary persecution, and road mortality. Illegal collection for the pet trade is another problem, where the removal of even one animal from the wild can be detrimental to an imperiled species like the timber rattlesnake. The following species are protected in Connecticut. Contact the Wildlife Division for additional information.
State Endangered - Timber Rattlesnake
Species of Special Concern - Eastern Ribbonsnake Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
State Regulated - Eastern Ratsnake
How to Use this Guide
The snakes in this guide are grouped in order of general appearance. Locate a picture that resembles the snake you are trying to identify. Check the map and the habitat description to determine if the species of snake actually occurs in your area. For each species there is a listing of key characteristics that will help you distinguish the snake from similar-appearing species. Each snake description includes whether the species has smooth or keeled scales. Keeled scales have a raised ridge along their center and give the snake's skin a rough appearance when viewed closely. The "confusing species" listing provides a quick reference to snakes that are most often mistaken for one another.
Thamnophis s. sirtalis
Coluber c. constrictor
P. FUSCO P. FUSCO
Size: 16 to 42 inches
? Three light yellow or white stripes running the
length of the body; dark body with white flecks
? Yellowish-green or bronze belly; darker along
? Keeled scales
Diet: Earthworms, frogs, toads, salamanders, fish
Habitat: Found everywhere from moist areas to forest edges to vacant lots to backyards
Confusing Species: Eastern Ribbonsnake
Young eastern racer
Size: 33 to 65 inches
? Large size; solid black body; bluish belly ? Young snakes have a row of dark brown blotches
on a light gray-brown body
? Smooth scales
Diet: Small mammals, insects, toads, frogs, small birds
Habitat: Favors open, lightly wooded areas, including fields, meadows, powerline rights-of-way, roadsides
Confusing Species: Eastern Ratsnake
Thamnophis s. sauritus
Underside of eastern ratsnake Young eastern ratsnake Size: 46 to 68 inches LOOK FOR:
? Large size; black body; flecks of white often
present; white chin; belly with black checkerboard pattern
? Young are light gray with brown/black blotches, a
large head, and a black, checkerboard belly
? Lightly keeled scales along backbone only
Diet: Rodents and other small mammals, small birds, amphibians, insects Habitat: Rough, forested terrain with ledges and rock outcrops; small meadows adjacent to woodlands; can be found in trees; may be found around old barns Confusing Species: Eastern Racer Distribution:
Size: 20 to 32 inches LOOK FOR:
? Three well-defined yellow-orange stripes running
the length of a slender, dark brown body
? Long, thin tail ? Keeled scales
Diet: Insects, fish, salamanders, frogs, toads Habitat: Shallow water, grassy or shrubby areas bordering streams, and wooded swamps Confusing Species: Common Gartersnake Distribution:
What is the most dangerous snake in the United States?What Is the Most Poisonous Snake in the USA?Eastern Coral Snake. Coral snakes are among the best-known venomous U.S. ...Mojave Rattlesnake. The Mojave rattlesnake lives in the Mojave Desert. ...Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. ...Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. ...Copperhead. ...Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin) Cottonmouths get their name from their distinctive defensive display. ...Yellow-bellied Sea Snake. ...More items...
Title: Snakes in Connecticut
Subject: A Guide to Snake Identification
Author: Connecticut DEP - Wildlife Division
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