Snake identification is an important activity for anyone spending time out of doors. By doing some basic research, it is important to be able to identify different types of snakes that are common in the area. Not all snakes are poisonous, and it is essential to pick out the venomous varieties from the harmless ones.
When trying to identify a particular type of snake, make note of its size and color first. Some varieties, like the rattlesnake, have a pattern on the scales, while other brown or black snakes don't have color variations. A coral snake has brightly colored rings around it, and scientists know that any animal that doesn't camouflage itself is likely poisonous. A green snake with yellow stripes going down its back is probably a common garter snake.
Some types of snakes have very distinct features that make snake identification very easy. A rattlesnake is easy to pick out because of the hollow beads that form on the end of the animal's tail. When provoked, the snake shakes the rattle, making a distinct sound that warns predators to back off.
If the snake's head is visible, it is possible to get some clues about what variety it is. Snake identification also includes making note of the shape of the animal's head. Vipers, a class of poisonous snakes, have a triangular shaped head. Pit vipers, such as the rattlesnake, have an indentation between the eye and the nostril. The pit helps the snake detect the heat signature of a nearby animal and gives the reptile an idea of its size and type.
Vipers are venomous and inject their victims with venom. If a person has been bitten by a snake, it is possible to tell what type it is by examining the wound carefully. A bite left by a viper will have two larger punctures made by the snake's fangs, as well as some smaller marks. A non-venomous snake bite leaves puncture marks that are all the same size.
The shape of the snake's pupils will also give some information about the type of snake it is. If it looks like a slit that is similar to a cat's eye, the snake is a poisonous one. A non-poisonous snake will have an iris that is round, like a human eye.