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Poison Center Helpline 1-800-222-1222

Snakes

Watch your step! Forty species of snakes live in Illinois. They prefer areas like forests, marshes, swamps, ponds, streams and rivers. If a snake bites you, go to the nearest emergency department immediately.

Of the 40 snakes in Illinois, only four venomous snakes are native to the state: 

  • Copperheads are light brown with dark brown splotches. They prefer forests and river bluffs.
  • Cottonmouths range from brown to yellow and live in swamps and wetlands.
  • Timber rattlesnakes are gray-green with a series of dark bands along their body. They usually live in the southern tip of Illinois.
  • Massasauga rattlesnakes are light brown or yellow with dark brown markings. They can be found in prairie wetlands and river flood plains.

IPC encourages caution when exploring the great outdoors. Poisonous snakes mainly slither in southern Illinois, but can potentially be anywhere in the state. Do not attempt to move a snake, even if you think it’s dead.

Avoid these actions

  • Intentionally handling a snake
  • Attempting to trap or feed a wild snake
  • Touching a snake that appears dead
  • Stepping on a snake in the wild
  • Reaching under rocks or logs

Symptoms of a snakebite

  • Rapid progressive swelling
  • Severe pain
  • Redness on skin
  • Broken blood vessel or bruised appearance
  • Large blisters
  • Bleeding
  • Tissue ulceration
  • Tingling of the mouth, hands and feet
  • Drop in blood pressure or shock
  • Respiratory failure
  • Weakness and sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting

What to do

  • Immobilize the affected limb.
  • Remove any jewelry such as rings, bracelets and watches.
  • Do not apply ice or heat, tight tourniquet, electric shocks, conduct oral suctioning or make incisions to the bite area.
  • Go to the nearest emergency department immediately.

IPC is here to help. Calls to our helpline, 1-800-222-1222, are free and confidential. Toxicology experts are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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