There are around 150 snake species (with many subspecies) native to the North America, 20 of which are venomous, that are unevenly distributed throughout the continent, and here we have listed 10 states with the most venomous snakes in America.
Venomous snakes of the US are divided into four main groups: rattlesnakes (16 species), copperheads (one species), cottonmouths (one species) and coral snakes (2 species). Many of these species include a lot of regional varieties and subspecies. All of these snakes belong to pit vipers of the Viperidae family except coral snakes, which belong to the Elapidae snake family.
Pit vipers are a huge snake family that includes around 150 species which are spread throughout the most of the world except Antarctica, Africa and Australia, and therefore have adapted to many different ecosystems. What all pit vipers have in common is the “pit” placed between the eyes and the nose of the snake. The pit acts as a sensor which helps them to locate prey or other living creatures by heat (thermoreceptors), which means that snakes can detect differences in temperature around them. Pit vipers are also very venomous snakes, where tropical species have significantly stronger venom than those who inhabit areas with a milder climate. Cottonmouths are semi-aquatic snakes and together with copperheads, massasaugas and pygmy rattlesnake, they are often found around water bodies and generally inhabit more humid places. Other rattlesnake species are found in many different habitats, from forests to deserts, but preferring regions with a warmer climate, so they are most widely distributed throughout the southern part of the US.
Coral snakes belong to the Elapide family of snakes, like cobras. Coral snakes inhabit various environments including forests, rocky areas, even flooded plains, and are very common snakes even in urban areas, therefore being present in the majority of states with the most venomous snakes in America. They are most common in southern parts of the US where they inhabit woods, sandy and marshy areas. Coral snakes are tiny and slender snakes, reaching up to 39 inches in length. They are also vividly distinguishable from other snake species by their contrasted black, yellow and red bands across the body, but are sometimes confused with non-venomous king snakes. Although they are common and highly venomous, these are shy snakes so they are rarely seen and encountered by humans.
Most numerous of the pit vipers in the US are rattlesnakes, and they are also the largest venomous snakes in the US. Of them, most venomous are considered to be the tiger rattlesnake and the Mojave rattlesnake. The bite of a Mojave rattlesnake can kill a human if not being medically treated, because this snake injects a huge portion of venom when biting; this snake will not hesitate to attack. Although some of them are highly venomous, North American snakes are not at the top of the Most Venomous Snakes in the world.
In order to have consistent information in terms of species – subspecies hierarchy, we have collected the data from Venombyte and Cobras to make our final count. We have picked states with the most venomous snakes by highest numbers from either website. The numbers thus may vary comparing to some other sources, but the list we made also includes subspecies (like copperhead and cottonmouth subspecies or regional rattlesnake varieties for example). Our list represents states with the most venomous snakes in America by the number of (sub)species, not by encounters with humans or fatal bites. Of around 9,800 annual snakebites in the US, of which roughly 3,000 are from venomous snakes, the majority is usually being inflicted by improper handling with snakes, since many snakes dwell around urban areas.
Although snakes are found in most parts of the world, they are most abundant in regions with a warmer climate, where they inhabit a variety of ecosystems from rainforests to deserts. Venomous snakes are present in almost every state except Alaska and Hawaii (where there are no native snake species at all), and tend to inhabit warmer regions of the southern half of the US. Florida is considered to be the state with the most snake species in the US, but is it also the number one state with the most venomous snakes in America? Let’s find out on our list.
Venomous snakes count: 8
Most of Missouri’s 47 snake species are non-venomous, and snakebites occur rarely. All of the venomous snakes are pit vipers and they are characteristic for having one scale row on the ventral (belly) side of the tail. Most common venomous snakes of Missouri are copperheads, and all venomous snake species include: eastern massasauga, northern copperhead, osage copperhead, southern copperhead, timber rattlesnake, western cottonmouth, western massasauga and western pygmy rattlesnake.
9. South Carolina
Venomous snakes count: 9
There are 38 native snakes to South Carolina of which six are venomous snake species, which include subspecies of copperheads and cottonmouths that we have taken into count. Therefore South Carolina’s venomous snakes are: Carolina pygmy rattlesnake, dusky pygmy rattlesnake, eastern coral snake, eastern cottonmouth, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Florida cottonmouth, northern copperhead, southern copperhead, timber rattlesnake.
Venomous snakes count: 10
Most common venomous snakes of Oklahoma are rattlesnakes which include: desert massasauga, prairie rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, western diamond rattlesnake, western massasauga and western pygmy rattlesnake. Western diamond rattlesnake is considered to be the longest of them, and can reach up to 7.5 feet. Other venomous species are cottonmouths and copperheads with the following subspecies: broad-banded copperhead, osage copperhead, southern copperhead and western cottonmouth.
Venomous snakes count: 10
Apart from the eastern coral snake, all other Georgia’s venomous snakes are pit vipers. There are 46 snake species in Georgia, of which 6 are venomous. Most commonly spread throughout almost the whole territory of Georgia are copperheads, cottonmouths and timber rattlesnake. All of Georgia’s venomous snake species and subspecies are: Carolina pygmy rattlesnake, dusky pygmy rattlesnake, eastern coral snake, eastern cottonmouth, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Florida cottonmouth, northern copperhead, southern copperhead, timber rattlesnake and western cottonmouth.
Venomous snakes count: 10
All venomous snakes of California belong to Crotalus genus, i.e. all of them are rattlesnake species. Most commonly encountered venomous California’s snakes are western diamond rattlesnakes, which are spread throughout most of the territory. California’s venomous snakes are: Colorado desert sidewinder, great basin rattlesnake, Mojave desert sidewinder, Mojave rattlesnake, northern pacific rattlesnake, panamint speckled rattlesnake, red diamond rattlesnake, southern pacific rattlesnake, southwestern speckled rattlesnake and western diamondback rattlesnake. Yellow bellied snakes, which inhabit warm waters of Pacific and coastal areas of its tropical belt sometimes get stranded on California’s shore. They are very venomous snakes, but they are not put on our list because they are not indigenous species to California, and they are rarely found on its shores.
Venomous snakes count: 10
All of the mentioned kinds of venomous snakes (including rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, copperheads and the coral snake) are found in Mississippi, making it one of the states with most venomous snakes in America. Perhaps the most feared of those are cottonmouths, which dwell around rivers, and are often mistaken for common non-venomous water snakes. Mississippi’s venomous snakes are: southern copperhead, western cottonmouth, eastern cottonmouth, canebrake rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, Carolina pygmy rattlesnake, dusky pygmy rattlesnake, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, western pygmy rattlesnake and eastern coral snake.
Venomous snakes count: 11
Of 42 snake species in Alabama, six are venomous. Eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest of them, sometimes reaching up to 8 feet in length. This snake is also put on a list of endangered species in Alabama. Venomous snakes of Alabama are: Carolina pygmy rattlesnake, dusky pygmy rattlesnake, eastern cottonmouth, eastern coral snake, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Florida cottonmouth, northern copperhead, southern copperhead, timber rattlesnake and western cottonmouth western pygmy rattlesnake.
3. New Mexico
Venomous snakes count: 12
Venomous snakes of New Mexico are all rattlesnakes except for coral snakes. Rattlesnakes are found throughout the whole state, while coral snakes mostly inhabit southwestern part of the state. Venomous snakes of New Mexico are: rock rattlesnake, western diamondback rattlesnake, prairie rattlesnake, Mojave rattlesnake, black-tailed rattlesnake, massasauga, ridge-nose rattlesnake, Sonoran coral snake, Arizona black rattlesnake, banded rock rattlesnake, mottled rock rattlesnake and New Mexico ridge-nosed rattlesnake.
Venomous snakes count: 15
Together with Florida, Texas is home to the most snake species in America (around 105 species with subspecies), of which 15 are venomous. The majority of venomous snakes are rattlesnakes, followed by copperheads, cottonmouths and coral snakes. There are between 500 and 1,000 snakebites per year in Texas, one-third being inflicted by venomous snakes, though there are almost no fatal bites. The mostly encountered venomous snake in Texas is the western diamondback rattlesnake, because it dwells near populated places. Venomous snakes of Texas are: banded rock rattlesnake, broad-banded copperhead, desert massasauga, Mojave rattlesnake, mottled rock rattlesnake, prairie rattlesnake, southern copperhead, Texas coral snake, timber rattlesnake, trans-Pecos copperhead, western cottonmouth, western diamondback rattlesnakes, western massasauga, and western pygmy rattlesnake.
Venomous snakes count: 19
Having 19 of 20 venomous snakes in the US, Arizona is the number one on our list of states with the most venomous snakes in America. Western diamondback rattlesnake inflicts the most snakebites annually, and it is most numerous of all rattlesnakes, while the Mojave rattlesnake has the strongest venom in Arizona. Venomous snakes of Arizona are: animas ridgenose rattlesnake, Arizona black rattlesnake, banded rock rattlesnake, Colorado desert sidewinder, desert massasauga, grand canyon rattlesnake, great basin rattlesnake, hopi rattlesnake, Mojave desert sidewinder, Mojave rattlesnake, northern black-tailed rattlesnake, prairie rattlesnake, Sonoran desert sidewinder, southwestern speckled rattlesnake, tiger rattlesnake, western diamondback rattlesnake and western twin spotted rattlesnake.