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Florida's Venomous Snakes

November 11, 2016


Of the 50 known species of snakes found throughout Florida, only six are venomous and dangerous to humans. While we'll make an attempt here to provide a guide to identifying these six snakes, please note that if you have any question whether or not a snake you come across is venomous, do everything you can to avoid it.

Eastern Coral Snake: Measuring an average of 20 to 30 inches in length, the Eastern Coral Snake is the most visibly striking of Florida's six venomous snake species. From head to tail, this snake is ringed with black, yellow, and red rings. Narrow yellow rings separate the wide black and red rings with all rings continuing around the snake's belly. This snake's head is black from the tip of its snout to just behind its eyes. Though you shouldn't touch it, its scales are smooth and the color pattern is the same in both adult and adolescent snakes. Though more common in southern Florida, these snakes are great hiders, usually found in dry underbrush.

Cottonmouth / Water Moccasin: If you've lived here any amount of time, chances are you've come across one of these near a waterway or in your garage. Ranging from bright reddish-brown to dark brown (almost black) cottonmouth snakes should be avoided at all costs. They measure between 20 to 48 inches on average and have a bright white mouth and catlike pupils.

Southern Copperhead: If you're taking a camping trip to the panhandle, definitely watch out for this snake. Light brown in color with dark brown hourglass bands, the copperhead measures 22 to 36 inches in length and has a stout body. Its most distinctive features are its copper colored head and large plate-like scales above the eyes.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake: Like the coral snake, the diamondback rattlesnake has very distinctive coloring and markings. High-contrast patterns outline black diamonds on a light brown to nearly white body. A very large snake, adults typically measure 36 to 72 inches long.

Timber Rattlesnake: Another large snake, the timber rattler's most distinctive feature is its very wide head. Measuring between 36 and 60 inches long it has a reddish brown stripe running down the center of its back. Large black chevron cross-bands break up the pattern along the length of the snake.

Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake: This rattler only measures between 12 and 24 inches and is a great hider. It has nine large scales on top of its triangular head and its body is a dark to light grey. Dark blotches disrupt a red-brown stripe running down the middle of its back with dark spots lining up with the blotches. Don't let its size fool you, this little bugger packs a serious punch.

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