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Old 03-25-2009
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Location: Palm Beach County, FL
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Default Snakes

As someone who was a zookeeper for 10 years prior to Animal Control and an avid herpetoculturist I feel I have to give my two cents.
ALWAYS treat a snake as venomous unless you know what you are dealing with. The shape of the head or eyes might work as identifying markers only if you are dealing with Vipers which is 99% of the venomous snakes in the US but a much smaller percentage if you include other snakes of the world. When dealing with Elapids, which the Coral Snake is one, all identifying rules go out the window. If you live in a place with a mild climate it is entirely possible, though unlikely, to come across a cobra, krait, mamba, or any other species that does not conform to an easy all encompassing identification system. There are many hobbyist, breeders and importers, licensed or otherwise, who routinely loose animals that you may have to deal with. Here in south Florida we pick up a large Boa or Python at least once a month that has sustained itself on rats or feral cats. These snakes may go years unnoticed. Luckily I have not come across any venomous exotics, except on seizures, but the potential does exist and it will happen.
The best advice I can give is to be familiar with the snakes in your area, especially the venomous ones. There are not that many to remember, in Florida there are only 5 out of about 44 snakes that are venomous. Invest in a decent field guide, I like Peterson's, and find out if you have a local Herpetological Society or knowledgeable Pet Shop owner that can be a good resource for information or handling help.

Bobby
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