Florida's Venomous Snakes

Do you know the difference between venomous and poisonous?

Venom is injected like when a snake bites you or a bee stings you.  Poison is ingested like when you lick your hand after touching a poison dart frog or drink a poisonous substance. So, there is no such thing as a poisonous snake.  Snakes are venomous.

Central Florida's Venomous Snakes

There are only four venomous snakes found in the Central Florida area:  the eastern coral snake, the Florida cottonmouth, also known as the water moccasin, the dusky pygmy rattlesnake, and the eastern diamondback rattlesnake.  Once you learn to identify these four snakes, you don't need to worry about the other 50+ species of non-venomous snakes we have here in Florida. (The timber rattlesnake and copperhead are found in north Florida.)

The Eastern Coral Snake

Think of a stop light.  The red and yellow are next to each other and a red light tells you to stop!  Like this snake, the red and the yellow are next to each other and if you see one you should stop.  Their venom is neurotoxic and affects the nervous system causing paralysis of the diaphragm. 



The Florida Cottonmouth

Also called the water moccasin, it is a venomous water snake.  Their body coloration ranges from patterned to simply a dull black.  But you can identify them by the black "eye line" that runs from the side of their eye back down the side of their head.  All cottonmouths, including babies, no matter what pattern they are, will still have this "eye line". 

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake

This is a very small rattlesnake averaging 15 to 22  inches long.  Their rattle is so small it sounds like an insect buzzing.  They are basically gray with colored blotches running down the back.  Its bite is painful but  not fatal.  This snake is responsible for more snake  bites in Florida than any other venomous snake.  Children should definitely be educated about this animal. Because of its small size, a child may believe this to be  a "harmless" snake.


Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

This is the largest venomous snake in the United States.  Average size is five to six feet long.  From a coiled position, like shown in the picture, it can accurately strike half its body length.  The best defense is to never go near one, even to move it.  All bites have been because someone got too close.