6 Most Dangerous Snakes in Florida

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the biggest of the rattlesnakes in the Americas, certainly in terms of weight.  A stout bodied pit viper, this snake likes to live in the dry, pine flatwoods, sandy woodlands, and coastal scrub habitats.
The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the biggest of the rattlesnakes in the Americas, certainly in terms of weight. A stout bodied pit viper, this snake likes to live in the dry, pine flatwoods, sandy woodlands, and coastal scrub habitats. | Source

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.

The copperhead Snake is also called a chunk head and a death adder by some people.  It is an ambush predator, waiting in a promising position for prey to arrive and then striking at an opportune moment.
The copperhead Snake is also called a chunk head and a death adder by some people. It is an ambush predator, waiting in a promising position for prey to arrive and then striking at an opportune moment. | Source

Southern Copperhead

(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.

A venomous pitviper subspecies, the Florida cottonmouth is a strong swimmer and normally found in or near water.  Drying water holes are a particular favorite as they can often find suitable prey there.
A venomous pitviper subspecies, the Florida cottonmouth is a strong swimmer and normally found in or near water. Drying water holes are a particular favorite as they can often find suitable prey there. | Source

Cottonmouth

(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.

Timber Rattlesnakes were once common but have been persecuted by humans.
Timber Rattlesnakes were once common but have been persecuted by humans. | Source

Timber Rattlesnake

(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 (6 Most Dangerous Snakes in Florida).  This snake's bite is not fatal but can be extremely painful.
Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake (6 Most Dangerous Snakes in Florida). This snake's bite is not fatal but can be extremely painful. | Source

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.

The Eastern Diamondback is the heaviest rattlesnake in the Americas, it can weigh as much as 26 pounds.  This impressive, venomous snake can strike up to 2/3 of its body length.
The Eastern Diamondback is the heaviest rattlesnake in the Americas, it can weigh as much as 26 pounds. This impressive, venomous snake can strike up to 2/3 of its body length. | Source

Eastern Diamondback

(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.

Coral Snake (6 Most Dangerous Snakes in Florida)
Coral Snake (6 Most Dangerous Snakes in Florida) | Source

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

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Comments 13 comments

Teresa Schultz profile image

Teresa Schultz 5 years ago from East London, in South Africa

Ouch, I don't know why I look when I'm absolutely petrified of snakes even if it is 100% certain that one I am close to is non-venomous. I didn't just look at the pics, though - this is an informative hub for those living in Florida. I like the little rhyme, but I am still not going anywhere near a snake if I can help it, even if red touches black.


Cassie Ann profile image

Cassie Ann 5 years ago

My sentiments exactly, Teresa. Hate, hate, hate snakes but sometimes I watch shows about them on tv. Excellent hub, Paul. We have rattlesnakes way far up north so I have never seen one nor do I wish to ;-).


PaulGoodman67 profile image

PaulGoodman67 5 years ago from Florida USA Author

I am tempted to respond with a glib comment like "Snakes should be respected, not feared", but the truth is that it is natural for human beings to be scared of snakes. My worry is that I will tread on one when I am out running, though I usually only see dark racers and arboreal snakes in my neighbourhood usually, both of which are harmless.


Cassie Ann profile image

Cassie Ann 5 years ago

Haha, Paul. I respect the &%#@ out of snakes! That's why I won't go near poisonous ones. We're fine if we both keep our distance. Like watching grass snakes, though.


Sun-Girl profile image

Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

Interesting but really sounds like a horror film.Well shared and rated up.


InfiniteConstrict 5 years ago

Red on yellow, kill a fellow

Red on black, venom lack

sound better, but anyway nice hub!:)


neve 4 years ago

Omg going to florida better watch out but thanks good article.


DBM 4 years ago

WELL BORIN YEAH!!!


Cottonmouth 4 years ago

I was in Orlando Florida for one day and I was 2 feet away from a daddy cottonmouth I was stunned. But honestly I love snakes and really care and respect for them and love them and don't think you should be afraid of them.

GO STEVE. Irwin. Even though sadly he died by a stingray.

Ps if your gonna be scared of an animal Spider. Stingray.


no one 4 years ago

or red and yellow kill the fellow, red or black throw him back..


muddy 3 years ago

Red touches yellow you're a dead fellow red touches black you're ok Jack


Bill 2 years ago

Dusky Pigmy attacked my golf cart while patrolling a gated community parking lot


the rawspirit profile image

the rawspirit 17 months ago from Hutchinson Island, FL - Aruba - Carlsbad, CA - Myrtle Beach, SC - Gilbert, AZ

Great article... We had a person, here in Jensen beach, bitten by coral snake while she was trimming her bushes. Very small snake but very powerful poison, that acts a lot like that of a Cobra. Best to you, and thank you again for the fine article.

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    PaulGoodman67 profile image

    Paul Goodman (PaulGoodman67)495 Followers
    58 Articles

    Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.



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