Question - How often are snake species correctly identified following bites in the U.S.?
Answer - It depends. One recent study reported “During the study period, there were 286 cases of snakebites reported to the state poison control center. Pictures were obtained on 49 of the responsible snakes. All copperhead snakes were identified correctly by callers. However, only 21% of cottonmouth snakes were identified correctly, with 745 of cotton mouth snakes being identified as copperheads. Bothe public and medical personnel performed poorly on identification of cottonmouth snakes.” These investigators concluded “Forty percent of the snakes identified as copperheads were actually cottonmouth snakes. Juvenile cottonmouth snakes were often identified as copperhead snakes.” (Cox RD et al. Misidentification of copperhead and cottonmouth snakes following snakebites. 2018 Clin Tox 56(12):1195-1199).