When you think of snakes - You think hot deserts, and forests. You certainly wouldn't think there would be any here in Upstate New York. Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York is home to three species of venomous snakes. Although, most people will probably never see one, differentiating a venomous snake from a harmless one would be difficult.

One characteristic to look for is a pit between the nostril and eye. However, if you're that that close - you're too close. The second characteristic is the shape of the snake's head. A venomous snake has a broadly triangular head. This is a characteristic that could be deceiving because a non-venomous snake will flatten and widen their head when and if provoked.

Here are some snakes seen in this part of Upstate New York -

Timber Rattlesnake: Found in the lower Hudson Valley, eastern and southern Adirondacks, some parts of Central New York. The Timber Rattlesnake is very poisonous and extremely dangerous. If confronted will rattle and strike.

Length: 3 to 4 feet, rarely get 5 feet

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake:  Found in Bergen Swamp near Rochester and Oneida Lake swamp east of Syracuse. This rattlesnake is the smallest of the three venomous snakes in the state. Will strike if rattling.

Length: Average size of 1-3 feet

Western Black Rat Snake: Found in most of the state in areas with barns. Feeds primarily on mice, rats and small birds. This snake has a painful bite.

Length: It's the longest snake in the state. Could reach 6 feet in length.

The good news about most snakes found around homes are that they are seeking food, shelter or mates. If they don't find what they are looking for, they tend to move on.



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