Snakes in the Ozarks

By Floyd Burleson


Snakes were also attracted to this beautiful place. Some of them are very poisonous. The diamondback and timber rattlesnakes are mostly found in the northern part of the community. They get very large, some up to six feet or longer. The pigmy (ground) rattlesnake is found in and around the central and southern part of this community. They are small in size. I have never seen one over twenty-four inches long, but they are very poisonous like the larger ones. There are a lot of copperhead snakes found all over the community.

Also there are a few cottonmouth snakes found along the streams. The rattlesnake will warn you before bitting (sic) but the copperhead and cottonmouth will just lay still, ready to strike as soon as you get close enough without any warning. There is also the hognose snake, called by many spread adder because when it is bothered it will spread out its head in a wide, flat shape. It is said not to be poisonous but I think it is and I wouldn't want one to bite me to find out.

The following are non-poisonous snakes. The water moccasin is sometimes mistaken for a cottonmouth. The black snake, sometimes called a chicken snake, will get into a chicken nest and swallow all the eggs or all the little chicks an old hen will have with her. The black racer, a long snake sometimes reaching seven feet or longer with a long, slim, red tail is sometimes called a coach whip because it looks so much like the long, leather, black whip used by man. The king snake gets its name from killing large, poisonous snakes by wrapping around them and squeezing them to death. Another example of non-poisonous snakes is the garter snake and there are others.

King Snake Kills Copperhead Snake

I once saw a king snake kill a big cottonmouth snake. Others have also told me they have seen them kill big rattlesnakes. They mostly kill poisonous snakes however one person told me he saw one kill a non-poisonous snake. King snakes are faster than poisonous snakes in grabbing hold of another snake just at the back of the head, holding it, then wrapping around it, squeezing the life out. Mr. and Mrs. James Hensley, who live in Joe Burleson Township at present, furnished this picture and said it took two and a half hours for the king snake to kill and swallow this big copperhead.

Snake Pictures
Rattlesnake Sounds

Reprinted with permission from Treasured Memories of a Beautiful Place in the North Arkansas Ozark Hills by Floyd Burleson, copyright 1989.