Snakes

Identification and Bite Advice

Florida is home to a number of snake species. There are 45 species of snakes that can be found in the state. There is no doubt that the sight of a snake is enough to send a chill through your spine, but most of these species are actually quite harmless. In fact, certain types of snakes are not venomous.

Florida’s Non-Venomous Snakes

  • Eastern Garter Snake
  • Black Racer
  • Southern Ringneck Snake
  • Yellow Rat Snake
  • Southern Black Snake
  • Corn Snake
  • Rough Green Snake
  • Red Rat Snake
  • Eastern and Southern Hognose Snakes

There are at least six species of venomous snakes that can be found in the state. Here is all you need to know about the poisonous snakes of Florida.

Venomous Snakes of Florida

The venomous snakes in Florida can be categorized into two: Elapidae and Crotalidae also commonly referred to as pit vipers. The difference between the two types is the kind of effect their venom has on the human body. Elapidae venom is neurotoxic. This means that it affects the nervous system, and can be so dangerous as to cause paralysis and even death. The most common member of the Elapidae family in Florida is the Coral snake.

The venom of pit vipers, on the other hand, is haemotoxic. It destroys the red blood cells and also causes damage to blood vessels. The pit vipers that are found in Florida include the following:

  • Cottonmouth
  • Diamondback rattlesnake
  • Copper head

Here is a look at some of the venomous snakes of Florida

Pygmy Rattlesnake

These snakes are not big in size, but what they lack in size they more than makeup for in speed. They are rather common in Florida and can be found in every county. They are small, with the average adult measuring 12- 26 inches in length. The longest pygmy reported was 31 inches long. They do have a rattle, but it is very faint. In fact, it is quite easy to mistake the rattle of a pygmy for the noise of a buzzing insect.

Pygmies feed mostly on small animals such as lizards, mice, and frogs. However, if they are disturbed, they are fairly quick to attack. Even though they are poisonous, their bites don’t usually contain enough poison to kill an adult human being. Click on this link to see clearer photos of the Pygmy.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is as venomous as it is intimidating. Large in size and with a venom content that is way above average, this majestic rattlesnake is one that inspires fear and panic within seconds. Other traits that are synonymous with this snake include aggression and speed. It may appear big, but this snake can strike at an alarming speed.

This rattlesnake can grow to be as big as 8 feet, but the extremely large snakes are rarely ever found. In fact, you would be hard put to find an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake that is larger than 7 feet. The snake generally feeds on small mammals such as mice, rabbits, and squirrels. Occasionally, the snakes may also feed on birds.

An agitated diamondback rattlesnake is quite a sight. The snake coils the body on itself and raises its wide head in the proverbial S- shape. In this position, it is ready to strike. Usually, the snake will rattle its tail before it strikes, and this can be considered a warning sign.

The snake is quite common in Florida. An adult can measure anywhere between 36- 72 inches in length. The longest snake ever reported measured a whopping 96 inches! You can click on this link to see more images of the diamondback rattlesnake.

Cottonmouth/ Water moccasin

The cottonmouth snake acquired its name from its response when it is disturbed. If you agitate this venomous snake, it cocks its head then opens its mouth which has a white lining. It then proceeds to attack whoever disturbed it. But make no mistake- the viper can attack even when it is not coiled. It strikes exceedingly fast and without warning. A bite from this reptile can cause excruciating pain and swelling. Thankfully, however, the venom of this snake is not powerful enough to kill, especially with treatment.

This pit viper is common throughout Florida, particularly near swampy areas. Each individual snake is different from the other. There are snakes that prefer to laze around, while others are a lot more aggressive. On average a cottonmouth can measure 20-48 inches with the longest snake recorded being 74.5 inches long. Be sure to visit this page to learn more about the snake and see clearer images.

Canebrake Rattlesnake

This snake is also known as the Timber Rattlesnake. It is more common in northern Florida, although it has been found as far south as Alachua County. The reptile has a slender build and a rather wide head. It mostly lives in abandoned fields and flat woods, and even in riverbeds. The average snake measures 30- 60 inches. The longest canebrake rattlesnake ever reported was 74.5 inches long. You can click on this link to see better images and get more information on the snake.

Coral Snakes

Coral snake venom is exceedingly potent; this is in fact the most poisonous snake in all of North America. The snake has fairly short fangs and a small mouth. In order to inject the poison, the snake needs to bite and chew. The average snake is 20- 30 inches long although the longest snake ever recorded was 47.5 inches. It is very common all over Florida and likes to stay in heavy brush. Click here for more information on the snake.

Copperhead

The copperhead snake is not all that common in Florida. In fact, many people tend to mistake young cottonmouths for copperheads, since they are quite alike. As the name suggests, the snake has a copper- colored back and a very wide head. The head is far wider than the neck. An adult snake can measure anywhere between22- 36 inches, with the longest snake, ever recorded being 53 inches long. Be sure to visit this page where I have outlined the differences between the copperhead and the cotton mouth, as well as this other page which contains more information on the copperhead.

Conclusion

Florida is home to many snakes. Without the knowledge, it is easy to mistake a harmless snake for a venomous one. However, guided by the information above, you should be able to differentiate the two with ease.