How tough are snakes?


Oleg Volk
May 22, 2003, 10:59 AM
If I ever wanted to stop a rattler or some other venomous snake and couldn't get away from much damage do they take before being unable to advance? Would a 9mm ball to the ribs stop a snake or would I need to land a spine or a head shot?

I hear that most aren't aggressive but some are...

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May 22, 2003, 11:18 AM
Snakes aren't tough at all. If you're real quick you can just catch 'em and bite their heads off. :D

Seriously though, 9mm is plenty, .22LR will do the job. Snakes are just about all spine so a fatal shot isn't that hard to make.
Beware though, a rattler can still get you after it's dead, plenty of venom still remains in the fangs.

May 22, 2003, 12:15 PM
I've never shot a snake but if I wanted to get rid of one I think whatever gun I had with me, or any shovel, stick, rake, etc., would be enough. I have a hard time imagineing a situation where I knew it was there but couldn't control the distance between me and it.

Art Eatman
May 22, 2003, 12:34 PM
If you see a snake from a distance of more than its body length, you are in no danger. A rattler can only strike 1/3 to maybe 1/2 its length. SFAIK, the only posionous snake that is likely to actually attack--or move toward a person in apparent aggression--is the cottonmouth water moccasin.

Since a snake is a narrow target, it can be hard to hit with a pistol--which is why some folks prefer shotguns. However, a sharp garden hoe or a sharp machete is better than any gun.


May 22, 2003, 12:35 PM
.22lr will do the job if you hit it. For close up shooting something like .38 spl w/bird shot is excellent for up to about 15 ft. Shotgun of course is better. Basically if you shoot a snake in middle of the body with .22lr, his body is imobilized from that point back to his tail. The upper part will still be working for some time before it dies and can still bite and inject venom, however its strike range is diminished.

Normally a snake will take action to avoid you if possible. The slower and noisier you move, the fewer snakes you'll see. However some will make no effort to avoid you and will coil into strike position if you swat them or get too close. In my opinion, the larger a snake is, the more likely he is to be aggresive or fearless, which can be just as bad.

I have had snakes in remote areas of swamp follow my boat, I think it was more curiousity than aggressiveness. When I splashed water on them, they leave.

May 22, 2003, 01:46 PM
I don't worry about most snakes except moccasins. Those buggers are mean and will actually come after people. I don't know why, but they will.

I have stepped over a diamondback before. He was on the other side of a log that was down on a trail. He was just sitting there and didn't even move when I went over him. I guess I startled him and he decided not to strike.

My buddy caught a baby rattlesnake one time and kept it in an aquarium. It got out and was behind his toilet one night when I was over there. I went to the bathroom and heard the little rattle going (he only had two rattles). I don't think I have ever jumped so high in my life. Needless to say, I killed him (with a barbecue fork) and told my buddy off.

Another buddy caught a water moccasin one night while we were out catfishing. He swallowed the bait (cut herring) and the hook. Then he decided he needed to come into our camp. That was a bad decision. My buddy got his hook back. :D

I have also seen a bed of water moccasins in a creek before. They were slithering around in this big black ball. That sight gave me nightmares.

We have had them try to get into canoes before too. I have heard they follow boats and get in them to rest. Then they just get back in the water and go. I had one fall in a jon boat a long time ago. Me and an ex-girlfriend were out fishing and got into the trees on the bank. He fell into the bow where she was. I was looking towards the stern and heard this big sploosh. I turned around to see ***, and instead of her in the boat, there was this 5 foot moccasin heading my way. I jumped in too and we both swam to shore. We went back for the boat the next day.

At another girlfriends house years ago, her mom asked me to come kill one in her garden. It was just a black rat snake, but she was freaking out so I killed it. I chopped it's head off with an axe. I skinned him and through him in a pond near the house. When he hit the water, he was still slithering around and that was over an hour after loosing his head.

Sorry so long, but I thought you guys might be interested in all of my snake encounters, or at least the ones I can remember.

But, to answer your question, no, snakes are not hard to kill, as long as they aren't in a position to hurt you.

May 22, 2003, 01:50 PM
I've never dealt with any big ones, but small snakes come through the baler all the time. Pretty much what everyone else said, any solid hit will limit their mobility. I'll add that they die slowly, and still have full use of everything between their head and whatever you hit. Don't go thinking your going to shoot it and then pick it up right way, it may surprise you.

May 22, 2003, 02:04 PM
Back when I was younger, stupider and more afeared of 'em, I used to dispatch them with a quick shot from a .22 rifle (point shooting).
9mm will be more than sufficient for any of the snakes I've ever seen.

May 22, 2003, 02:17 PM
If you do come across one this size you might consider a shotgun.

May 22, 2003, 02:28 PM
Forgot to mention it earlier but CCI makes a "snake shot" load for 9 mm if you are interested.

May 22, 2003, 03:25 PM
I ran into this question (literally) last Sunday.

Cleaning up a section of my property behind the pole barn, I found a 2 foot snake that I couldn't identify. I got him into a bucket and brought it to the house so I could check him out on the internet.

When I came back out to look at it again, he had flattened out on the bottom of the bucket and attempted to strike up at me (inside of his mouth was white). :what:

I decided better safe than sorry and walked him out back. Shot him with my M6 scout at 5 feet with #9 shot. Didn't seem to faze him a lot (even though a small chunk of head was missing). Ended up shooting him again with the 22 barrel at about 1 foot away.

He was still "moving" around that evening in the ditch I had thrown him in.

(Sorry if this was a little graphic)

May 23, 2003, 01:02 AM
I went to the bathroom and heard the little rattle going (he only had two rattles). I don't think I have ever jumped so high in my life. Needless to say, I killed him (with a barbecue fork) and told my buddy off.

Now what in the HELL were you doing with a fork in on the toilet? :eek:

You aren't from Texas, are you Sulaco? :p

May 23, 2003, 02:01 AM
I learned my lesson, got a whuppin'and a scoldin'.

I was a little brat, and helping my Uncle clear the back property. We would use a hoe, or just pick them up and whack against a tree. I got into trouble because I threw a few into the bonfire...and a few toward my girl cousins...

He marched to his truck ( after the whuppin and scoldin') and handed me his pistol. I was ordered to shoot them,from them on out.

I was wasting some good eating. I wasn't supposed to burn 'em, and by the time my aunt got through with a hoe...not much left.

Hoe,or gun...and don't waste the meat and ruin the skin.

May 23, 2003, 08:38 AM
As mentioned above, the CCI shot loads are a handy solution on small, mobile critters. Like shotguns, the closer, the more devastating.

I tested some 9mm at 3 yards earlier this week in Kahr PM9. It had FTE with first shot, but put out a consistent pattern on 9" picnic plate that few normal snakes would survive if hit in head/neck. Notice I said "survive", not necessarily "stop". Some water mocs can be like some humans - downright psycho.

While I generally prefer to leave other snakes alone, our area is "blessed" with copperheads and water mocs, more rattlers a little further west.

My "go to" handgun for such snakes has become Glock 36. I keep a spare magazine loaded with CCI's .45ACP. I must be living right or sumthin' 'cause that Glock actually CYCLES with the shot loads - and at 3 yards it throws an AWESOME pattern, just slighty larger than a 3" X 5" index card.

Before checking some traps near a pond yesterday, rather than changing over to the Glock, I simply keyed up 3 of the CCI .38 shot loads in my j-frame always gun. I figured it is good out to any distance (3 to 6 feet) that I'd need to shoot - and it goes "bang" EVERY time. ;)

Edited to add: In re-reading my reply, it almost sounds like a drift toward another 9mm vs. .45 or semi v.s. revolver thread! :D The point being though, results with shot loads can vary greatly. Sorta expensive, but testing needed on individual gun basis if to rely upon. :eek:

Ol' Badger
May 23, 2003, 11:51 AM
Oleg, Just use a rake. Thats what my Grandmother did! She just kept hitting a Rattler with the rake until it quit moving and the Snaushers (Think I spelled it right) started to play tug or war with them.

May 23, 2003, 02:14 PM
Hunted in Starr and Jim Hogg counties for 30 years and there are lots of big rattlesnakes in the brush country. Over the years, I have run into only two aggressive rattlers. They were no match for .357 mag & bird shot handloads, though, and tasted great!

This brings up another question. Rattlesnake tastes much like quail to me............anyone tried copperhead or moccasins?


May 23, 2003, 04:21 PM

A hoe will work, so will a few 22s, well placed, and for sure a 9mm will but make sure the bugger isn't sitting on rock.
Wouldn't you prefer to use this as a good excuse to get a new 22 rather than a new hoe?

Another tactic that will work is to carry a long wooden walking staff when you trot the the Tennessee high or low lands. Something 5-6 feet long. Mine is made of hickory. Poke the snake in a safe manner and he will either crawl away or if he coils up you can use the staff to sort of "fling or flick him" out of sight or out of range if it's not too big a snake.

Any poisionous snake on my property is a dead snake but out in the woods I try and avoid killing them especially if I'm by myself and don't have the kids or the pooch with me to worry about.

Copperheads aways impress me as more likely to crawl away. They act sluggish at times. RSs will give themselves away especially if you make plenty of rumble and racket as you move about. When the temps are warm, they are anything but sluggish.
Watermoc's are the bad boys IMO. They are aggressive. Several scary fishing expeditions after sundown have taught me that. They are silent and by the time you see the darn thing it's coiled up. I have a pair of leg protectors I'm not too shamed to wear if I know I'm going into a snakey place where its hard to see. They are hard plactic and go to about the knee.

Sometimes when a snake is close, you will notice a smell sort of like like watermelon. And no, I don't know why. Possibly it's a phermone (sp?). I have never noticed the smell from the captive specimens I've looked at but have noticed it many times out in nature when a snake was close at hand.


May 25, 2003, 10:44 AM
Which story to tell......................

I've killed more snakes than any other animal. I've shot them with BB guns, 22LR rifle/pistols and 20gauge shotguns.

Only a shotgun blast to the head stopped them.

I've also seen snakes with 20 to 30rds of 22LR in them and they still rolled around. I've also seen the heads of snakes cut off and they still snapped at people if they stepped near it.

Snakes in Pennsylvania are very moody. If you run across a rattler in the Spring, or Fall it is more likely to be slow and sluggish. If you run across one in the summer they can get pretty nasty. Rattlers around hear tend to be slow. The copperhead snakes are the ones we usually look out for. I think the Timber Rattler is protected in PA and we've picked them up and put them down the road if we run across them.

Do you want to hear the story about the stupid kids I know that tried to jump over a rattler?

May 25, 2003, 12:40 PM
Do you want to hear the story about the stupid kids I know that tried to jump over a rattler?


Don’t know if it's true but there is a story around KY, where this guy and his kid were fishing. The kid is turning over rocks looking for worms, when he yells "daddy I found some worms but they are biting me" turns out that they were baby Copperheads and the kid dies.

Speaking of cottonmouths, back when I was 19 I got the big idea to go to Florida and find a swamp. I had a hankering for alligator/excitement etc. about halfway threw Georgia I got to thinking about the fact that I didn’t know anything about cottonmouths and Alligators…. The more I thought about it and how the folks in KY sneer about the folks that come down from Ohio and get killed or sank bit (those folks ought to stay home if they got no better sense) I went to Daytona Beach.

PS: Copperheads smell like Q-cumbers to me, and, yes you can sniff them out.

May 25, 2003, 10:58 PM
i've always thought snakes were tough sob's. i was at an outdoor camp and there was a snake in the rafters so they got a .22 and shot it 3 times and put in the back of the truck. the snake was still moving and squiggling with 3 nice size holes in it, almost seperated at points.

May 27, 2003, 09:55 AM
Shot-shells better than .22lr up close. If one is up close and your .22 isn't real accurate, the shot shell (I use .38 spl, but they come in a variety of calibers) is a much more sure way of stopping them. Shotgun the best, but pistol caliber shot-shells are what I normally use now.
It took me 8 shots and a stick to kill Coral snake last weekend. Don't normally use my .22lr pistol and can only count on putting bullets in 2-3" circle with it. Emptied the gun at the skinny Coral snake (never hit it at less than 10') and then killed it with stick. It'd have been a 1 shot story if I'd have had my .38 spl. with shot shells (which I normally carrry).

May 28, 2003, 09:25 AM
In mucho agreement with Scotjute. Even if ya have a super-accurate gun, most of 'em don't exactly tend to be still for ya!

rock jock
May 28, 2003, 04:42 PM
Don’t know if it's true but there is a story around KY, where this guy and his kid were fishing. The kid is turning over rocks looking for worms, when he yells "daddy I found some worms but they are biting me" turns out that they were baby Copperheads and the kid dies.
I heard the same story 30 years ago except they were rattlers and it was in Florida.

May 28, 2003, 05:15 PM
The best weapon for killing snakes is a sharpened garden hoe,IMHO.
I carry a Glock 30 with me while boating, specifically to kill moccasins.
As far as odd weapons for killing snakes, I once had to kill a black snake with a pair of scissors. I tried to cut it loose of some netting it had become entangled in, but the thing kept striking at me, so I buried the scissors in it's head.

May 30, 2003, 11:13 PM
Since your thread has become story telling time...

Close encounter- I was about 15 and was coming back to the house after wandering around the woods, When I saw some deal in the little creek that ran by the trail back to the house. I reached down to pick this thing up and then I noticed that about 6 inches from my arm was a copperhead resting on a root sticking out of the ground. I had my .22 with me so he was put to rest with a shot to the head. Later, I felt bad about doing that because I had been stupid enough to not pay attention to what I was doing and he left me alone.

My favorite snake story though is the Cottonmouth that was larger than any I had ever seen.

Hot summer day I was wandering around the little pond by the house and I just so happened to have my "snakestick" with me. All it was was a leaf rake that all the teeth had fallen off anfd it was just the blade part that held the teeth to the handle.

I was using the stick to sweep back and forth in front of me and was noticing all the little frogs and grasshoppers jumping around in front of me when all of a sudden I heard this loud hiss and saw this huge white mouth open up and strike at my stick. He never advanced after that though and tried to escape but I chopped him with the stick about 1 foot behind his head. This was not enough though, I actually went to the side of the spine and he continued to try and escape with his side split wide open. He crawled under a log and I had to get him to annoy him with the stick enough to get him to move his head out in the open and then I ended it with a perfect shot that took his head off. He was at least 3 1/2 feet long. Mayber longer I never measured him. He was bigger than any Cottonmouth I have ever seen though And was about 3 inches thick.

May 30, 2003, 11:28 PM
The only snake I ever killed was a cottonmouth. The weapon of choice (and the closest thing at hand) was a shovel with about a 4' handle. One whack with the flat side near the head, followed by another slightly behind the head with the edge.

Say... wasn't there a whole "tactical shovel" thread on TFL?

Tactical Shovel from TFL (

Gordy Wesen
June 3, 2003, 12:55 AM
I had an old landlady, Mrs. Sidonia Barnes, in Billings, Mt back in the early 70's. She had worked on a ranch and said snakes were easy to shoot from horseback for when you pointed the gun at them they kinda lined themselves up with the she claimed.
RIP Sadie.

June 3, 2003, 01:35 AM
I have killed plenty of various snakes and believe me the handgun shotshells are not enough IMHO. 22lr and up are the best. I prefer the shotgun.:D

June 3, 2003, 02:09 PM
bag em and toss'em in the hog pen
its better than TV
dem piggies love eatin snakes

Byron Quick
June 6, 2003, 08:13 PM
Most of the cottonmouths I've seen, I had a German Shepherd with me. The snakes actually ran from her. Others just sat there coiled up. They stayed and I went away.

I stepped on a copperhead once. It was a warm day in late November and I wasn't thinking about snakes...there'd already been frost on the ground several times. Apparently I stood on him close enough to his head that he couldn't quite reach above the top of my boots. Well, I took a couple of steps and saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I turned around and there was a copperhead right where I had just been standing. I looked down at my boots and there's three pairs of droplets of venom sliding down my boots.

I took my Browning A5 12 gauge and put it 18 inches from the copperhead's head. I was shaking so much that I missed twice:rolleyes:

Found a broken off rattle last deer season on the steps of my was four inches long. I don't want to meet its owner.

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