Length in Kansas up to 40 inches.
Restricted to the eastern third of Kansas; generally found no farther west than the
western edge of the Flint Hills.
Pattern of 7-20 distinct light-edged bands with no rattle on tail and a small pit
on each side of its head between and slightly below the eye and nostril. Varies in color
from gray to light brown with dark gray or brown crossbands. Head may be gray, brown or
reddish. Belly is white with large dark gray, brown or black blotches on its edges
extending a short distance up onto the sides of the body. Young look like miniature
adults, but with yellowish or greenish tails.
Prefers open rocky woodland, woodland edge and meadows adjacent to woodland. Pattern
and color of this snake blends perfectly with forest leaf litter. In summer, it becomes
nocturnal. Because of its shy disposition and camouflage pattern, this snake exists in
reasonably large numbers near areas of human population. During spring and fall, it is
often found on wooded hilltop rock outcrops with a southern exposure. One to 14 young per
litter are born from August to October. Eats insects, frogs, toads, lizards, small birds
and other snakes; particularly fond of rodents.
Information About Snakebites
Death from snakebite is rare. There is only one
documented fatality in Kansas since 1950. Snakebites still occur and knowing what to do is
important for anyone who spends time in areas where venomous snakes are found.
Always wear protective clothing when hiking the rugged areas of Kansas and never go
alone. Wear gloves if possible and dont stick your hands under rock ledges, logs or
stumps. Sturdy, high boots are preferred footwear. Stay on paths or trails and watch where
you walk. If you discover a venomous snake, dont try to catch or harass it. Venomous
snakes are a fascinating part of our environment. They are easy to observe and make easy
subjects to photograph with an appropriate lens. Be familiar with the venomous snakes of
Kansas. Learn to recognize the harmless snakes that resemble potentially dangerous ones.
For example, Northern Water Snakes frequently are mistaken for Copperheads and
- If you are bitten by a snake:
Was the snake venomous? If you know you have been bitten by a harmless snake,
it will save you much stress and eliminate the need for treatment. Many people are bitten
by harmless snakes each year and experience nothing but small scratches that readily heal.
If you are certain a venomous snake was involved, get to the nearest hospital or medical
facility as quickly as possible. If possible, notify them ahead of time via telephone of
your situation. This gives the physician time to prepare and call the nearest poison
information center for advice.
Poison and Drug Information Center in Tucson (520-626-6016) maintains a list of which
types of antivenins (sometimes called antivenoms) are available and can advise a physician
where to call in the event of a bite from a venomous snake.
- If bitten by a venomous snake:
- Stay calm.
- Treat for shock.
- Drive to nearest hospital or medical facility.
- Do not attempt to kill or capture the snake. It gives the snake
another opportunity to bite.
- Do not use a tourniquet. If tied too tight, it may cause the
loss of a limb.
- Do not make cuts through or near the site of the bite.
- Do not try to suck venom from the site of the bite. You might
have a tooth cavity or gum sore and this would place venom into that wound.
- Do not allow anyone, including a physician, to administer
antivenin to you UNLESS you have FIRST been tested to determine whether or not you are
allergic to antivenin.
Regional Poison Information Centers are also
important sources of information.
For Kansas, call:
Mid-America Poison Control Center
Emergency Phone: (800) 222-1222
If you do not live in Kansas, find your state
poison control center by clicking here.
Other Kansas venomous