BusinessEnvironmentA Slithering Look at Vipers and Snakes: From Europe...

A Slithering Look at Vipers and Snakes: From Europe to the USA


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The world of snakes is vast and diverse, with vipers holding a distinct and sometimes-feared place within it.

This article explores different types of vipers and snakes, comparing the European viper and mamba, and investigates their presence in the United States, particularly in New York.

Vipers: A Venomous Subgroup

Vipers are a subfamily of venomous snakes classified under the Viperidae family. They are characterized by several key features:

  1. Heat-Sensing Pits: Located between the nostrils and eyes, these pits help vipers detect warm-blooded prey.
  2. Retractable Fangs: Unlike most snakes, vipers have hollow fangs that fold back when not in use, allowing for a swift and forceful strike when injecting venom.
  3. Triangular Head: Their heads are typically wider than their necks, giving them a distinct triangular appearance.

European Viper: A Widespread Venomous Snake

Snakes USA

The European viper (Vipera berus), also known as the common viper or adder, is a widespread species found throughout Europe and parts of Asia.

They are relatively small, averaging 40-60 cm (15-24 inches) in length, with a zig-zag pattern running down their backs. Their venom, while not usually fatal to humans, can cause localized swelling, pain, and nausea.

Mamba: A Fearsome African Venomous Snake

Snakes USA

Mambas belong to the genus Dendroaspis and are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They are known for their slender bodies, long fangs, and potent neurotoxic venom, which can be fatal if left untreated.

Black mambas, the largest species, can reach up to 4 meters (13 feet) in length and are particularly feared due to their speed and aggressive nature.

Vipers and Snakes in the USA

The United States is home to a diverse range of snake species, but unlike Europe and Africa, it has no native vipers.

Snakes USA

In the United States, a variety of snakes species call different regions home. Some of the most common snakes found across the country include:

  • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus): Known for its distinctive diamond-shaped patterns and rattling tail, this venomous snake is native to the southeastern United States, particularly in pine flatwoods, sandhills, and coastal scrub habitats.
  • Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus): Found in the eastern United States, from Minnesota to Texas and as far east as New Hampshire, the timber rattlesnake is known for its distinctive rattling sound and brownish-gray coloration.
  • Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox): This species inhabits the southwestern United States and parts of northern Mexico. It is characterized by its diamond-shaped patterns and is commonly found in desert habitats.
  • Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix): Widely distributed across the eastern and central United States, the copperhead is known for its copper-colored head and hourglass-shaped markings along its body.
  • Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius): Although venomous, coral snakes are less commonly encountered. They inhabit the southeastern United States, particularly in Florida, and are known for their brightly colored red, yellow, and black bands.
  • Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis): Non-venomous and widespread across North America, garter snakes are often found near water sources and are known for their long, slender bodies and striped patterns.
  • Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer): Native to the central United States, bullsnakes are large, non-venomous constrictors known for their impressive size and docile nature.

These are just a few examples of the diverse snake species found in the United States, each with its own unique characteristics and habitat preferences.

Snakes attacks in the USA

Snakes USA

There are snakes attacks in the USA. While fatal incidents are rare, snakebites do occur. Here’s some information to consider:

  • Estimated Bites: An estimated 7,000-8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States every year.
  • Fatalities: Thankfully, deaths are uncommon, with around 5 fatalities per year.
  • Species Involved: Copperheads are responsible for the most bites, but rattlesnake bites are more likely to cause serious injury or death.

It’s important to remember these are just national estimates. If you’re concerned about snake bites in a specific area, it’s wise to consult local resources or wildlife agencies for details on prevalent species and safety tips.

New York’s Slithering Residents

While vipers and mambas primarily inhabit regions outside of the United States, there are several species of venomous snakes found in the country. In the southeastern USA states, snakes species such as the eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) and the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) are prevalent.

However, New York, located in the northeastern part of the USA, is not known for having native populations of venomous snakes like vipers or mambas.

New York has a relatively small population of venomous snakes. The only two native venomous species in the state are:

Venomous Snake Bites: Symptoms & First Aid

Snakes USA

Venomous snake bites in the USA can vary in severity depending on factors such as the type of snake, the amount of venom injected, and the location of the bite. It’s essential to recognize the symptoms of a venomous snake bite and administer appropriate first aid promptly.

Here are some common symptoms and first aid measures for venomous snake bites:


  1. Immediate pain and swelling at the site of the bite
  2. Redness and discoloration around the wound
  3. Fang marks or puncture wounds
  4. Nausea, vomiting, and dizziness
  5. Weakness, sweating, and fainting
  6. Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  7. Rapid heartbeat and low blood pressure
  8. Blurred vision or other vision problems
  9. Numbness or tingling in the face, limbs, or extremities
  10. Paralysis or muscle weakness in severe cases

First Aid:

  1. Stay calm and reassure the victim.
  2. Keep the bitten limb immobilized and at or below the level of the heart to slow the spread of venom.
  3. Remove any jewelry or tight clothing from the affected area to prevent constriction as swelling occurs.
  4. Clean the bite wound with soap and water if available, but do not attempt to suck out the venom or apply a tourniquet.
  5. Apply a clean, dry bandage or cloth over the bite, covering the entire affected area, to help control swelling and prevent infection.
  6. Seek immediate medical attention by calling emergency services or transporting the victim to the nearest hospital or medical facility.
  7. If possible, remember the appearance of the snake to help medical professionals identify the species and administer appropriate treatment.

It’s crucial to remember that not all snake bites are venomous, and many snake species are harmless to humans.

However, if you suspect a snake bite may be venomous or if the victim is experiencing severe symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical help immediately. Delaying treatment can lead to serious complications or even death.


The world of vipers and snakes offers a fascinating glimpse into the diversity of the natural world. While the European viper and mamba are formidable predators in their respective habitats, the US has its own set of venomous snakes to be aware of.

In New York, encounters with venomous snakes are uncommon, but knowing the two native species can help ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience.

Sunshine Slate
Sunshine Slate
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