10 Snakes In Central Florida

Written by Hannah Ward
Published: May 8, 2022
Image Credit Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock.com
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Florida is one of the most diverse states in the United States, with many different habitats that are home to thousands of different species.  Central Florida is just as diverse as the rest of the state and is known for its hot and humid summers and dry winters.  This climate creates the perfect conditions for snakes.  Although there are more than 50 species of snake that call Florida home, there are 35 species in Central Florida alone, including four of the six venomous species and one of the five species of non-native snakes.  So, join us as we discover some of the snakes in Central Florida!

1. Eastern Racer

Close-up of the head of a Blue Racer snake (Coluber constrictor foxii), subspecies of the Eastern Racer. This individual is developing the adult blue coloration, but still has some of its juvenile spotted pattern.
Eastern racers are the most common snakes found in residential areas.

Michael Benard/Shutterstock.com

There are eleven subspecies of eastern racers, and three of them are found in Florida.  They are 20 to 60 inches long and are typically bluish-black with white markings underneath their chins.  These snakes are fast and agile, with keen eyesight, and are most active during the day.  They live in a variety of habitats and are one of the most common snakes seen in residential areas.  Eastern racers are excellent climbers and often raid bird nests for eggs and chicks.  They also eat rodents, frogs, lizards, and other snakes.  Despite their scientific name, Coluber constrictor, eastern racers are not true constrictors and typically overpower their prey before swallowing it alive.

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2. Florida Cottonmouth

Florida cottonmouths are found in virtually every wetland habitat in Florida
Venomous cottonmouths are found in virtually every wetland habitat.

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The first of the four venomous snakes in Central Florida is the Florida cottonmouth.  Cottonmouths are 30 to 48 inches long and are brown, with a mixture of light and dark brown crossband markings.  They live near virtually every wetland habitat but are not limited to only freshwater as they can be found in brackish water and near offshore islands.  However, despite this, they can also be found up to a mile away from water too.  Florida cottonmouths are opportunistic feeders and eat anything they can catch – such as fish, lizards, birds, frogs, and other snakes (including fellow cottonmouths).  Although they usually only strike as a last resort, they are extremely venomous, and there is around a 17% mortality rate with bites.

3. Ribbon Snake

Ribbon snakes are semi aquatic and live near ponds and streams where they can be found both in and out of the water.
Ribbon snakes are one of the most frequently seen snakes in Central Florida.

Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock.com

There are four subspecies of ribbon snakes, and they are one of the more common snakes in Central Florida.  Ribbon snakes are 7 to 34 inches long and get their name from their slender bodies.  They are typically black or brown, with thin yellowish stripes running down their back and body.  Ribbon snakes are semi-aquatic and live near ponds and streams, where they can be found both in and out of the water.  They mate in the spring when they awake from hibernation and give birth to live young in the summer – meaning that they are ovoviviparous.  Ribbon snakes do not eat any warm-blooded animals, so their diet is almost entirely made up of fish, frogs, salamanders, spiders, and earthworms.

4. Southern Hognose Snake

Southern hognose snakes prefer to live in dry, sandy areas such as dry floodplains, fields, sandhills, and flatwoods.
Southern hognose snakes are a vulnerable species in Florida.

The vulnerable species on the list is the southern hognose snake.  Southern hognose snakes are 14 to 24 inches long and have an unusual appearance.  They have a wide neck and a noticeably upturned snout.  They are gray, brown, or red with large dark blotches on their bodies.  Southern hognose snakes prefer to live in dry, sandy areas such as dry floodplains, fields, sandhills, and flatwoods.  Although they produce a mild venom that they use to subdue their prey, they are not dangerous to humans and rarely bite.  Their diet includes frogs, toads, and lizards, while their predators include kingsnakes and eastern indigo snakes.

5. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes have brownish bodies with diamond-shaped markings on them which is where they get their name from.
Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are one of the biggest snakes in Central Florida.

Chase D’animulls/Shutterstock.com

One of the largest snakes in Central Florida is the venomous eastern diamondback rattlesnake which is typically 3 to 6 feet long.  Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes have brownish bodies with diamond-shaped markings on them, which is where they get their name from.  They mainly live in pine woodlands, scrubland, and swamps, although they have sometimes been spotted miles from land while crossing between barrier islands.  Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are highly venomous as well as powerful and can make repeated strikes up to two-thirds of their body length.  Their diet is mainly rodents, rabbits, and birds, and they have no natural predators.

6. Florida Green Water Snake

Florida Green Water Snake
The Florida green water snake can be found all over Florida and has a distinctly large head.

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Although they were originally thought to be a subspecies of green water snakes, Florida green water snakes are an individual species.  They are the longest water snakes in North America, reaching 30 to 55 inches long.  Florida green water snakes are dark, greenish-brown with dark speckles and lighter bodies.  Their favorite habitats are slow-moving water such as ponds, lakes, and swamps where there is plenty of vegetation.  Florida green water snakes are not venomous and are not constrictors, and prey is grabbed and swallowed alive.  Their diet mainly consists of fish, frogs, tadpoles, and salamanders.  They are often mistaken for venomous cottonmouths and killed as a result.  Other predators are otters, hawks, kingsnakes, and alligators.

7. Pine Woods Snake

Pine woods snakes are secretive and rarely seen
Pine woods snakes are one of the smallest snakes in Central Florida.

Andrew Jeffries/Shutterstock.com

One of the smallest snakes is the pine woods snake, which only reaches 10 to 13 inches long.  Pine woods snakes are reddish-brown with a lighter stripe down the center of their back.  They live in pine forests and woodlands where there is plenty of leaf litter or rotten logs for them to hide underneath.  They are nocturnal and extremely secretive snakes and are rarely seen; such is their ability to remain hidden.  Although pine woods snakes have a very mild venom, they are not considered to be dangerous to humans.  They eat lizards, frogs, and salamanders, while their main predators are southern black racers, kingsnakes, and some birds.

8. Brahminy Blind Snake

Brahminy Blindsnakes are small, thin, and shiny silver gray, charcoal gray, or purple.
Brahminy blind snakes are the only non-native species of snake in Central Florida.

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The only non-native snake in Central Florida is the brahminy blindsnake which is also the smallest at only 4.5 to 6.5 inches long.  Brahminy blind snakes are native to Africa and Asia and were first introduced to Florida in the 1970s.  They are a dark gray or purple color and have thin bodies, which often leads to them being mistaken for earthworms.  Both their head and tail are blunt and can make it difficult to distinguish between the two ends.  Brahminy blind snakes are excellent burrowers and often live underground in ant and termite nests where they feed on the eggs and larvae.  As they are so small, they have many predators, with birds being one of their main predators.

9. Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake

Dusky pygmy rattlesnakes are the smallest venomous snakes in Central Florida.

Gerald A. DeBoer/Shutterstock.com

One of the smallest rattlesnakes is the dusky pygmy rattlesnake, which is only 12 to 24 inches long.  Dusky pygmy rattlesnakes are gray with black blotches and a reddish stripe running down their back.  They live in pine flatwoods, prairies, swamps, and near ponds and lakes.  Although they are venomous, bites are generally only serious for children.  Dusky pygmy rattlesnakes are ambush predators and prey on lizards, frogs, rodents, and other snakes.  Their predators include hawks, owls, raccoons, and kingsnakes.

10. Eastern Coral Snake

Eastern Coral Snakes are brightly colored and highly venomous
Eastern coral snakes are highly venomous and contain enough venom to kill five people.

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Another venomous snake in Central Florida is the brightly colored eastern coral snake.  Eastern coral snakes are 20 to 30 inches long and are red, yellow, and black.  They have a similar appearance to non-venomous kingsnakes but are distinguished by their color pattern. These snakes always have red and yellow touching, while kingsnakes have red and black touching.  Eastern coral snakes usually live in tropical hammocks and flatwoods, although they are sometimes found in more open areas with less vegetation.  They mainly eat frogs, lizards, and other coral snakes.  Eastern coral snakes are highly venomous and contain enough venom to kill five people.  Thankfully though, they are unable to release it all in one bite!

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I'm an avid animal lover, and when not writing I can be found on my farm surrounded by dogs, horses, and sheep.

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