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.

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 two other venomous snakes native to Florida, the timber rattlesnake and copperhead, are only found in north Florida. 

The best defense against any venomous snake is to simply never go near it. Many bites occur on hands and arms while people are reaching for the snake to move it. Rattlesnakes are not the only snake that shake their tail when threatened! The cottonmouth will also shake its tail very quickly, rustling the leaves to let you know its agitated. Heed the warnings and leave the snake alone! 

For further reading about Florida's native venomous snakes: http://myfwc.com/media/1321792/Guide_to_venomous_snakes_in_FL.pdf



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! Their venom is neurotoxic and affects the nervous system causing paralysis of the diaphragm. 




Florida Cottonmouth

Also called the water moccasin, it is a venomous water snake. Their body coloration ranges from patterned to simply a dull black. You can identify this species by the black "eye line" that runs from the side of their eye back down the side of their head. Juvenile cottonmouths have a different coloration than adults do, but 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 gray with colored blotches running down the back. Its bite is painful but typically 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 (or event adult) may believe this to be a "harmless" snake.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

This is the largest venomous snake in the United States, and eastern diamondbacks are the longest rattlesnake species in the world. They average size five to six feet in length. From a coiled position, like shown in the picture, it can accurately strike half its body length!

Please note: the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens does not trap or remove any snakes. Please contact Florida Fish and Wildlife or a certified and permitted wildlife trapper if you have a concern about a nuisance snake.