Venomous Snakes of the Texas Hill Country

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Watch out for snakes when out hiking in the Hill Country, but not all snakes are dangerous. Though only four in the Hill Country pose a threat to humans, most help control rodent populations. To ensure good snakes keep doing their jobs and venomous snakes don’t bite you, learn how to identify those snakes that could seriously hurt you.


Venomous snakes in the Hill Country include the western diamondback rattlesnake


Of all the venomous snakes in the Texas Hill Country, the western diamondback rattlesnakes are the ones you’ll most likely see. Though these snakes can gather in large dens over the winter, you’ll probably never encounter one. These snakes tend to hide under rocks or hunt their rodent prey in these places, so avoid reaching into hidden places without looking. Of the many rattlesnake types in Texas, the western diamondback is the most prevalent. This snake typically measures 3.5 to 4.5 feet in length, though some specimens have been longer. Be careful because it won’t always rattle before attacking. But, if you can avoid snake hiding places, you will likely avoid being bitten.

Water Moccasin

Venomous snakes in the Hill Country include the water moccasin

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Unlike other venomous snakes in the Hill Country, water moccasins, also known as cottonmouths, are extremely rare. Sometimes, people out tubing or fishing on the rivers claim to see these snakes, but water moccasins have a distinctively thick, dark body and white inside their mouths, giving them their other name of cottonmouth. Most reports of cottonmouths in the Hill Country are false because people often confuse other water snakes for these. The cottonmouth is mostly a concern for East Texas and not the Hill Country.


Venomous snakes in the Hill Country include the southern copperhead

Photo: Flickr/Patrick Feller

Copperheads blend in very well with dried leaves of their favored scrub land or woodland home. Watch out in rocky areas or brush-covered lots because these snakes are very difficult to see thanks to their natural camouflage. Of the three sub-types of copperhead, you’re most likely to see the broadband copperhead in the Hill Country. These snakes are considered pit vipers, along with cottonmouths and rattlesnakes, distinguished by their triangular heads and pits between their nostrils and eyes. To avoid them, watch carefully when walking in wooded areas, and stick to paths, if available.

Coral Snake

Venomous snakes in the Hill Country include the coral snake

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Coral snakes are the smallest of the venomous snakes in Texas, measuring only 2.5 feet. But, these snakes are related to cobras and have a similarly acting venom. The good news is these tend to be found in East Texas rather than the Hill Country, and there is a simple rhyme to differentiate these snakes from their harmless relatives. Just remember, “Red touch yellow, kill a fellow. Red touch black, friend of Jack.” (or venom lack) This means if you see red bands bordering the yellow bands on a red, yellow, and black snake, it’s a coral snake that you should avoid. Otherwise, you’re looking at a harmless doppelganger.