I recently got an email with pictures from someone telling me of all the cottonmouth water moccasins they had killed at the family place while at their fishing pond. Laid out on the ground were a number of non poisonous water snakes. About two weeks later a friend told be he killed a copperhead snake on his back porch. He was thrilled to get it before it bit his dog or one of the grand kids. The dead snake he was holding in the picture was a very large, very dead rat snake.
Texas Rat Snake
A lot of good snakes end up dead because of mistaken identities. There are lots of books on snakes and how to identify them. One of the easiest ways is watch for the obvious such as a rattle on the tail, this is the easy one. Next easiest is the coral snake because of the bands of color. If the red and yellow are touching leave it alone, remember red and black friend of Jack, red and yellow kill a fellow.
Texas Coral Snake
The copper head has a unique color and pattern and if you mix that up with a rat snake or some other species look at the eye. If the pupil of the eye is round it is a good snake. All the poisonous Texas snakes have an vertical catlike slit pupil of the eye except the coral snake. All the nonpoisonous snakes have a round eye pupil.
Here is a chart on Water Moccasin and Water snake identification.
Cottonmouth: The eyes cannot be seen from the top of the head.
Water snake: The eyes can be seen from the top of the head.
Cottonmouth: The pupil of the eye is a catlike vertical slit, and there is a pit on the side of the head between the eye and the nostril.
Water snake: The pupil of the eye is round, and there is no pit on the side of the head between the eye and the nostril.
Cottonmouth: The top of the head is relatively flat.
Water snake: The top of the head is relatively rounded.
Texas snakes are out in force this time of year and many of us that love the outdoors often come in contact with them. Usually if you leave them alone they will do likewise. If you have to take one out make sure it is one of the bad ones and not one of the good guys. Watch where you step, Wild Ed