Though many people fear them, snakes are a very important part of our ecosystem. They help control pest populations for a variety of animals. Most snakes found in the United States are non-poisonous. Because of the few poisonous ones who encroach into populated areas, people often don’t want any around their homes.

There is a simple way to identify whether or not a snake is poisonous. The difference between poisonous and non-poisonous is noticeable in the features of the head. Characteristics of the non-poisonous snake are narrow head, no pit between eye and nostril, and round pupils. The poisonous snake has a triangular shaped head, a prominent pit between eye and nostril, and elliptical pupils. There are also tail differences. Of course, close examination of a snake if unknown type can be dangerous. Contact a professional wildlife control technician for positive identification.

Snakes have several different ways to kill prey. Non-poisonous snakes eat such animals as frogs, salamanders, insects, worms, small rodents, and birds. Poisonous snakes are able to go after larger animals for a couple of reasons. The teeth in a snake’s mouth are small and hooked in a backwards direction to help hold prey. Poisonous snakes, also, have sharp, hollow fangs designed to pierce skin and inject venom. They are located in the upper jaw with venom glands connected above. When not in use, the fangs fold back onto the mouth. To help the poisonous snake eat larger prey, its lower jaw is hinged and can open to surprising sizes.

Some snakes lay eggs while others birth live off-spring. These are cold blooded animals which is why they sun in the warmer months and go into hibernation during the colder. To help keep body temperatures from dropping too low, sometimes snakes will even hibernate in dens together thus sharing the limited heat available.

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