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Identifying a Black Snake

I was at a friend's house and we saw a huge 6 foot ling black snake. We thought it was just a big, non-venomous black snake that eats mice and is native to the area, but then it opened it's mouth and had a pure white mouth or throat.


We didn't know what it was, because the only snake we knew in the area with a white mouth is the Cottonmouth, a poisonous snake that can be lethal. But Cottonmouths don't get 6 feet long that we know of. We were not near water; it was in a small tree. Some feedback would be appreciated, so I can know if my friend is in danger or if the snake was harmless.

By bass player from West Plains, MO

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June 9, 20090 found this helpful

I'm not 100% certain, but because it has a white mouth, it sounds like a cottonmouth snake - it's named "cottonmouth" because of the white mouth/throat. If so, it is VERY venomous! Cottonmouth (a/k/a "water moccasin") snakes are usually smaller than that, but it's possible you could have estimated its size incorrectly. It's hard to tell a snake's actual size, due to its coiling/slithering.


In any case, call your local wild animal control center, or the humane society about this. You don't want to be messing with this snake if it is, indeed, a cottonmouth. Even if it isn't that species, it's better to have an expert determine what it is.

Because, if it is a cottonmouth, you seriously do not want to be bitten by it. They'll usually try to escape rather than attack you (unless it's cornered, or if you step on it by accident). Talk to some knowledgeable people in your area, and find out what the snake is, and whether it can be relocated safely.

I love snakes, but I have a very healthy respect for them. Be careful. :-)

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June 9, 20090 found this helpful

I can't find a way to edit my post, so I'll post some additional info.

OK. I got conflicting info from different websites about this snake. One site said that the snake will flee rather than attack, but others say that this snake is aggressive, and will attack.


Here's the site, with pictures, which might help you identify the snake:  ake/moccasin.htm

It says that rare cottonmouths have been reported as being up to 6 feet long, so your friend might be dealing with a granddaddy of this species.

All the more reason to get in touch with animal control immediately. Good luck!

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June 12, 20090 found this helpful

A couple things about "your" black snake, one, was it slender, and did it have a long, slender tail to the tip? Two, could you tell if it had any sign of an underlying pattern, no matter how faint? The cottonmouth, or water moccasin, is rather thick bodied for it's length, has a thick tail that ends kind of abruptly. They are often slightly splotchy in color, not always black, sometimes dull brownish-black, and they have a back that could almost be described as having a ridge. One last thing, a slit eye (up and down slit) is an indication of poisonous snake in the US, and a round eye indicates something like a pine snake, black racer, etc. Hope that helps.

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June 8, 20090 found this helpful

Can someone help me identify a snake? I tried to get the camera in time but it was gone. I live in Missouri (St. Louis) and the rain has been ongoing here for some time. I live in a town home with woods and a park-like setting. I was out on my front porch at night, and saw this thick, black snake at least 3 feet long. It turned its head and I saw it open its mouth and it was white. I researched this snake online and it said it was a Cottonmouth, but people tell me no way. It was about 2 inches thick.

Jenny from Saint Louis, MO


Help Identifying Black Snake

Ask your local county extension office (04/29/2008)

By Anon

Identifying a Black Snake

Yes, you did see a Cottonmouth. I'm from Texas and have seen a gazillion of them. Try to stay away from snakes this time of year, as they are coming out of hibernation and can get a little ornery (I would be pretty ticked too, if I woke up and hadn't eaten much for months.) Cottonmouths are venomous, and can really pack a punch. Be careful of wha's in your yard, and don't reach into anything like wood piles where snakes love to hide. (05/05/2008)


By KBlueyes

Identifying a Black Snake

Yes, it's a cottonmouth, named for the white coloration on the inside of its mouth. These are venomous, and dangerous, because if someone accidentally steps on one of them, the snake will bite in self-defense. Call your local animal control to have them remove the snake safely. (06/14/2008)

By Thrifty gal

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