6 Most Dangerous Snakes in Florida
Although the Sunshine State provides a home for fifty or so different types, there are only really 6 species of dangerous snakes in Florida. These have venomous bites, which can harm humans, and they should be avoided.
Generally speaking, if you encounter a snake and you are unsure whether it is dangerous, or not, you should avoid it.
Snakes in Florida are not generally aggressive and won’t normally attack you, if unprovoked. In fact, most of the time, they will attempt to flee if you go near them.
On the rare occasions when they don’t flee, because they are sunning themselves, for instance, under no circumstances should you attempt to handle the snake - especially if you are unsure if it is venomous or not.
This also goes for dangerous snakes that may have only recently died, which can still give you a venomous snakebite reflexively.
If you do receive a bite from a dangerous snake, for whatever reason, you will need to get medical attention at your nearest medical facility as quickly as possible - the only effective treatment for a venomous snakebite is to receive antivenin.
With all of the above in mind, here are the 6 most dangerous snakes in Florida.
(This snake can also be called the Copperhead, Chunkhead, or Highland Moccasin and is a type of pit viper.)
The biggest copperhead known measured 53 inches in length, but a typical adult is usually between 22 and 36 inches in length.
The southern copperhead is a stout snake with a wide head, its coloring is a pale to pinkish tan color that turns darker towards the midline, overlaid with crossbands.
This dangerous snake is found in the area of Apalachicola River, as well as in west of the Florida panhandle.
They like damp vicinities around swamps, stream and river beds, and the surrounding hillside areas. They also live in suburban areas where people reside.
The venomous snakebites of copperheads are very painful, but won’t usually kill a healthy adult.
Bites from these dangerous snakes are more life-threatening to older people, children, and people in bad health, however.
(This snake is also sometimes called the Florida Cottonmouth or a Water Moccasin.)
There are two types of cottonmouths found in Florida, the Florida Cottonmouth and the Eastern Cottonmouth, they can be distinguished by their markings and the geographical locations where they are found. Both are darkly colored and have heavy bodies.
The largest cottonmouth discovered was 74.5 inches long, but a typical adult usually measures between 20 and 48 inches long.
The bite of a cottonmouth is painful and can be fatal, if not treated. If they feel threatened, they will coil their bodies, display their fangs and making ready to bite. They aren’t usually aggressive, but some males can be very territorial on occasion.
Cottonmouths are semi-aquatic vipers and are normally found in, or near water. They are strong swimmers.
(This snake can also be called the Canebrake Rattlesnake).
As far as Florida is concerned, the timber rattlesnake is usually only found in 8 or 9 northern counties. It is a venomous pitviper.
The biggest timber rattlesnake known measured 74.5 inches, but a typical adult is usually somewhere between 36 and 60 inches in length.
The timber rattlesnake’s brown and black chevron-like crossbands on a grayish background act as good camouflage, making the snake easy to miss.
This snake should be given a wide berth, as it is one of the most dangerous snakes in Florida. Its favorite habitat is deciduous forests in rugged terrain.
The snake was once common, but has been persecuted by humans. Like all snakes, however, it should be respected as it plays a vital part in the local ecosystem and controls rodent populations.
Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake
(This snake is also called the Pigmy Rattler, or a Ground Rattler, by some people.)
The dusky pigmy rattlesnake is another form of pitviper subspecies.
This small snake can be found all over Florida apart from the Florida Keys. The longest dusky pigmy rattlesnake reported was 31 inches, but a typical adult is between 12 and 24 inches in length.
This snake will attempt to protect itself if it feels threatened. It has a rattle that sounds like a buzzing insect when it is agitated. Its bite is not normally fatal, but very painful.
The dusky pigmy rattlesnake feeds mainly on frogs and mice and is commonly found in flatwoods, around lakes and ponds, freshwater marches and swamp.
(This snake is sometimes referred to as simply a rattlesnake, or a rattler.)
The eastern diamondback is the biggest of the rattlesnakes in the Americas and, although it is not the longest venomous snake, it is the heaviest.
A typical adult is between 36 and 72 inches in length, but they can be as long as 96 inches. They are very heavy in snake terms, with one captured specimen weighing as much as 26 pounds.
This impressive but dangerous snake can strike up to 2/3 of its body length and has a venomous snakebite. It feeds on rodents such as mice and rats, as well as rabbits and other warm-blooded prey.
During the American Revolution, a symbol of an eastern diamondback featured on the Gadsden Flag, which is considered by many people to be the first flag of the USA.
Eastern Coral Snake
(This snake is sometimes simply referred to as a Coral Snake).
Eastern coral snakes have very distinctive markings, consisting ofblack, yellow/white, and red colored banding. They are normally small in size with an average length of between 20 and 30 inches and can be found throughout Florida.
This dangerous snake has a serious bite, with only maybe the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake packing a more life-threatening venomous snakebite. It feeds on lizards, frogs and other snakes.
The Eastern Coral Snake is sometimes confused with the Scarlet Kingsnake and the Scarlet Snake (which are both harmless), because of their similar but different coloring.
If unsure, there is a mnemonic rhyme that helps you to remember which snake is which by the coloring of its banding:
'If red touches yellow, it can kill a fellow' (refers to the Eastern Coral Snake)
'If red touches black, it is a friend of Jack' (refers to the Scarlet Kingsnake, or Scarlet Snake)
© 2011 Paul Goodman