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Tills Is a short treatise on snakes of the United States. 
id is primarily intended to help destroy the idea that all snakes 
are uangeroue. xnere is a slight discussion of distinguishing 
unarau t-eristsias of the four varieties of poisonous snakes in the 

unitea states. 


anakes are members of the reptile family. They are 
wry widespread in the united States » ranging from one tip of 
une country no the other. 

man nas through ignorance built up a fear of snakes 
wniun is almost; hereditary. Actually it is not hereditary, 
but It is passed down from generation to generation and instilled 
in people from childhood. 

Actually in the United States there are only four fam- 
ilies 01 poisonous snakes. Kvery year, however, there are thou- 
sands 01 narmless snakes killed and the tales told always refer 
to tnem as poisonous, bnakes are a great help to the farmer in 
control iug pests such as rodents and insects. 

xne poisonous varieties are the rattlesnake, the cop- 
per nead, tne watermoccasin, and the coral snake. The first three 
01 tnese are the most prevalent. They are also the ones having 
tne most onaracteristic differences in appearance from the harm- 
less varieties. xne coral has trie same eyes, head, and neck as 
tbe narmieBo ones. The other three varieties have slit pupils 
like a cat, nave a generally triangular shaped head, and a pro- 
minent neck, rne coral and harmless varieties have, ingeneral, 
round pupiiB like human beings, a rounded off nose, and head 
and oody join without any noticable contraction in size at the 

Trie rattlesnakes are of various sizes and markings, 
out all nave the characteristic rattle on the tail unless it 


nas oeen oroten on Dy rocks or something of the like. There 
is a mistaken idea that a rattlesnake's ape can be told by the 
nuuioer 01 rat Lies on ftis tail. There are two main reasons why 
tnis is not true. One is that each button of the rattle is form- 
ed, uy ih.e process ol shedding and this may occur several times 
a year, copending on the weather, Injuries to the skin, etc. 
aeuonaiy, some of the buttons may get broken off. 

Tne copperhead is a bright coppery color with brown 
saaale marks on its back. Once it is observed, it is easy to 
reuognize again, rue water moccasin is a thick, dark colored, 
fat snake which is usually found near the water. When it opens 
its moutn, white, stringy membranes are visible which give it 
tne name cottonmouth. 

i^one of the poisonous snakes of the United States are 
ag ressive under ordinary circumstances. It is only through 
tear ttiat they attack human beings and they will if possible 
run to get away from an encounter. The poison of these first 
tnree varieties mentioned affects the blood and is not fatal 
in a good many cases, it treated right away it is very sel- 
dom fatal. 

xne coral snake is the other poisonous variety and 
is quite deceiving in that its pupils are round and its body 
is soaped like a harmless snake. It is quite striking in color, 
tnougn. ic is ringed by broad bands of red, yellow, and black. 
Li Is particularly dangerous since its poison affects the ner- 
vous system, aowever, it only occurs in the southern part of 


j»lorida and Texas and therefore troubles very few peop le in 
zae united states. 

snakes are intelligent creatures and can be tamed, 
xne pilot Dlack snake can be made friendly inside of five 
minutes alter capture and will crawl around contentedly and 
unalraia. mere is a technique to doing this but it is quite 
posaiDie. une snake which puts up a terrific bluff is the 
nog-nosea snake or pufi adder. It hisses and carries on enough 
to terrorize anyone who is already afraid of snakes. 

it is my contention that people should get to know 
more aoout snakes and stop destroying them. By far the lar- 
gest percentage 01 them are beneficial to man. 


iteptiles of America, Ditmars 

mew suandard iiaieyclopedia, u'unk and Wagnalls 
vol. XXII, 1931. 

ine National encyclopedia, P.F,. Collier & Son Uorp. 
vol. IX, 1936.