What Snakes Are Poisonous in Colorado?
Colorado is home to a variety of different snakes, most of which are not dangerous at all. But what snakes in Colorado are poisonous to humans and our pets? There are few venomous snake species in Colorado, but you should keep your eyes peeled for rattlesnakes. These poisonous snakes can be found in Colorado, so watch out for signs of their presence.
Note: Snakes are technically venomous not poisonous. Poison is ingested, like a poisonous frog, or poisonous plant. Whereas, venom is injected by the snake’s fangs.
Venomous Snakes in Colorado
If you live in Colorado, you shouldn’t need to worry much about snakes endangering you or your family. A majority of the snakes known to live in Colorado are harmless to humans, as most of them are non-venomous. The primary culprit behind most harmful snake attacks in Colorado is rattlesnakes, because they are very common in the state.
If you are concerned about rattlesnakes in or around your property, here is what you need to know.
Rattlesnake Awareness and Safety
If you are concerned about rattlesnakes, it helps to know what to do when you may be in an area that is known to be populated by them. If you have knowledge on hand, you can avoid potentially dangerous encounters and respond in the instance that an attack does occur. There are a few key steps to rattlesnake safety, they include:
1. Look ahead
Always keep your eyes ahead of you, rather than where you’re stepping. Rattlesnakes blend into their environment quite seamlessly, so it won’t be easy to spot them. Look out for dark, oval shaped patterns on the path that you are walking on to ensure that snakes don’t catch you off guard.
2. Keep your distance
If you are seen by a rattlesnake, give it as much space as possible. Rattlesnakes are very sensitive to vibrations, so it will feel your footsteps as you approach and become more on-guard and aggressive. By keeping yourself at a distance, you limit the snake’s ability to reach you, making the encounter as safe as possible.
3. Stay calm
Rattlesnakes see humans as a danger, so its best to stay calm when around them. Quick movements may startle the snake, so you want to avoid reacting dramatically to a snake encounter. The best course of action is to calmly back away from the area the snake is in or choose a new route.
Identifying Venomous Snakes In Colorado
Rattlesnakes are effectively the only dangerous species of snake you should be worried about in Colorado. Fortunately, they have very recognizable features that make them easy to identify. Here are some clues you can use to identify a rattlesnake:
- They have rattles on their tails
- Typically have two upper fangs
- Broad triangular heads with narrow necks
- Vertical and elliptical pupils (nonvenomous snakes have round pupils)
- Facial pits between nostrils and eyes
- A single row of scales between the vent and tip of the tail
How To React To Rattlesnake Bites
While there is a chance that a rattlesnake bite won’t be venomous, you should still seek medical attention immediately if you are bitten. Do not attempt to suck out the venom, as this could cause complications throughout the area where the snake bit you. You also shouldn’t cut the wounded area or wash the wound, as venom from your skin can be used to identify which type of anti-venom is needed to help you.
You should also do your best to keep the affected area below your chest to keep the venom from reaching your heart too quickly. To this same end, you should remain as still as possible to minimize the flow of the venom to your heart. Staying calm helps too, as remaining calm will keep your heart rate low.
Colorado’s Nonvenomous Snakes
If you know what nonvenomous snakes are most common in Colorado, you won’t have to be afraid if you encounter one. Here are a few nonvenomous snakes that you may encounter in Colorado.
Western Yellow-bellied Racer
This snake has similar coloring to the rattlesnake, so if you say it you may have a moment of concern. Don’t worry, the yellow-bellied racer eats large insects, birds, and other snakes, so you won’t have to worry about them harming you.
Great Basin Gopher Snake
This snake inhabits a variety of areas that Colorado residents normally hike through. They are straw-colored or pale brown with large square patches of reddish brown and black on their backs.
Blackneck Garter Snakes
These snakes are olive-gray or olive-brown with yellow or orange stripes on their backs and white stripes on their sides. This snake is semi-aquatic, and it releases a foul-smelling odor from it anal gland when handled. Don’t pick it up, or this smell may be left on your skin or clothing.