- Some snakes on this list are large and have the ability to eat a goat or small deer.
- Some animals that call Florida home are nocturnal and hunt at night.
- Many animals on this list are found in the swampy waters and will use burrows made by other animals to hide or lay eggs in.
Florida, especially southern Florida, is the perfect place for snakes to live in the wild. The climate ranges from subtropical in the northern part of the state to tropical in the southern part. This means the temperature rarely drops to freezing or below.
There’s plenty of vegetation for a snake to hide in, whether to wait for prey, avoid its own predators or regulate its temperature out of the Florida sun. There’s also lots of prey, from insects to rodents and, in some cases, mammals as large as a goat or a deer.
Florida snakes come in all sizes, from tiny to huge. They are venomous and nonvenomous and can be a neutral color or a rainbow of colors. Here are 10 snakes found in Florida and some facts about them:
1. Eastern Mud Snake
These snakes grow about four feet long and are shiny black above and red and black below, with red bars along the sides. It’s found in Florida’s cypress swamps, and when it’s not in the water it hides under vegetation or fallen leaves.
As a semi-aquatic snake, it only comes ashore to hibernate, lay its eggs and find more sources of water to swim in when its habitat dries out. It eats aquatic life such as salamanders. The spine at the end of the tail helps with the identification of this snake.
The spine, however, isn’t venomous even though the snake uses it to prod at potential prey. The female sometimes lays her eggs in the nests of alligators and bravely guards them until it’s time for them to hatch.
2. Ring-Necked Snake
The species of ring-necked snake found in Florida, Diadophis punctatus is a smallish snake that grows 8 to 14 inches long. It’s non-venomous and gets its name because it has a colorful band behind its head. It is grayish-black above but below it is a vivid orange, yellow or red, with a row of dark, tiny half-moons down the center of its belly.
The ring-necked snake is found in Florida’s forests, whether they be dry or moist, and is a common visitor to suburban gardens. However, it is seldom seen for it hides beneath rocks and logs and is nocturnal. The snake eats amphibians, slugs, earthworms, insects and lizards, and snakes that are small enough for it to handle.
3. Brahminy Blind Snake
Blind snakes, also called worm snakes are so small they are often mistaken for baby snakes of other species. The Brahminy blind snake doesn’t grow much more than 6.5 inches. They are thin snakes, and their scales, which can be shades of gray or even purple, are smooth and shiny. T
his gives them an oily or mercurial appearance. It can be hard to tell the head from the tail, especially since the blind snake’s eyes are vestigial.
Some people mistake them for earthworms as well as baby snakes, but earthworms are segmented, and they certainly don’t have forked tongues. These characteristics help in blind snake identification. But blind snakes are like earthworms in that they burrow through soil and under debris found on the ground. Because they’re so small, blind snakes eat ants, termites, and their eggs, larvae, and pupae.
By the way, the Brahminy blind snake is not native to Florida but somehow got to the state from South Asia. Now it’s pretty common throughout the state.
To learn more about the littlest snakes, go here.
4. Eastern Indigo Snake
The eastern indigo snake used to be popular as a pet, but its conservation status is threatened, and in some states, a permit is required to own one. It gets its name because of the iridescent purplish-black scales on its belly.
The scales on its sides and back are bluish-black, though some snakes have a bit of red or orange around their head. Other facts about the indigo snake are that it can grow over 9 feet in length and weigh close to 10 pounds.
Eastern Indigo Snakes are active only during the day and are found mostly in dry glades or sandy ridges, steam bottoms, and higher ground sandy soils. They like to stay where there are a lot of natural streams. They are known for their use of gopher and tortoise burrows and will stay there to lay eggs or take shelter from the elements.
A non-venomous and usually peaceable snake, in the wild it’s found in sugar cane fields, thickets near rivers, hammocks, flat woods, the bottom of dry streams, and sandhills. The snake travels back and forth between these habitats during the year. The indigo snake sometimes dens in armadillo boltholes. It eats other reptiles and amphibians, birds, their eggs, and mammals.
5. Florida Pine Snake
This colubrid snake is found only in the southeastern states of the United States. It is a big, bulky snake that can grow as long as 7.5 feet in the wild. It lives in pine woods, oak woods, sandhills, pine barrens, and pastures. It is nonvenomous but powerful and subdues its prey by squeezing it to death in its coils. One of three pine species, the Florida pine snake can be grayish-brown to rust-colored with blotchy patterns on its scales. Males and females look alike.
These snakes also have pointed snouts that help them dig, and have a bit of cartilage in their throat that amplifies their hissing and bellowing if they’re threatened. They can also vibrate their tail to mimic the dangerous rattlesnake. Despite their powerful build, pine snakes are eaten by foxes, skunks, pet dogs and cats, birds of prey, raccoons, and even shrews, and their eggs are eaten by other snakes.
6. Eastern Coral Snake
The coral snake is pretty but venomous. This is different from poisonous in that the snake can deliver its poison through its fangs. It is often confused with harmless snakes such as the scarlet kingsnake, but it’s good to remember this phrase when it comes to coral snake identification: “Red on yellow kills a fellow, red on black, a friend of Jack.”
The color scheme of this New World version of the coral snake is a series of red, yellow, and black rings, in that order, from head to tail. This snake, which grows to a little under 3 feet, is found in the Everglades, in hammocks, and dry, open areas in the southern part of Florida. It eats frogs and other reptiles, including its conspecifics.
The coral snake is oviparous and produces from three to 12 eggs in early summer that hatch in September. The baby coral snake is between 7 and 9 inches long.
7. Florida Rattler
The Florida rattler is another venomous snake. Formally known as the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, this snake is the largest of the rattlesnakes and at least one of the heaviest venomous snakes in the world.
It is only found in the southeastern United States and lives in dry pine forests, sandhills, hammocks near the coast, swamps, and salt marshes. Sometimes it will chase prey into trees or bushes. Its venom is potent, and its fangs can be two-thirds of an inch in length.
The snake can weigh as much as 34 pounds and be nearly 8 feet long. Its scales are shades of brown, gray, or olive green with a pattern of brown or black diamonds edged with cream-colored scales with centers that are light brown or gray.
The snake’s head, which features a pit that helps it sense the heat of potential prey, has a stripe that begins behind the eye and slants down to the upper jaw. The Florida rattler eats rabbits, rodents, and birds but is itself eaten by birds of prey, especially when it’s young.
Read this to learn more about the Florida rattlesnake.
8. Florida Kingsnake
This medium-sized snake can grow to 5 feet in length and loves to eat other snakes, including their venomous cousin the rattlesnake. It is a snake with glossy black scales and 60 white or yellow crossbands.
These crossbands are important in king snake identification, for there are 45 subspecies of king snake, and some of them look very much alike. It gets its name “king” because it preys on other snakes. This king snake is immune to the venom of the snakes that live in its area and has double the constriction force to make sure that it asphyxiates its snake prey properly. The Florida kingsnake also eats lizards, birds, and rodents.
If the owner has room for it and commits to its proper care, the Florida kingsnake can be a good pet. One thing to be wary of is to make sure the substrate of the enclosure doesn’t have pine shavings, which are poisonous to snakes and other reptiles.
9. Florida Banded Water Snake
Facts about the Florida banded water snake are that it is found naturally only in the southeast, it can grow between two feet and a little under 4 feet long, and it is ovoviviparous. This means that the female snake holds the eggs in her body, and the babies are born after the eggs hatch inside the mother. These snakes can have as many as 57 babies at a time.
The Florida-banded water snake is light brown on top, with red or black crossbands. Its belly is pale with darker colored markers, usually reddish or brown. It is a subspecies of the southern water snake, and they can be told apart by the shape of the blotches on their belly.
The snake is found in all sorts of bodies of water in Florida, including lakes, rivers, swamps, and other wetlands, as long as the water is fresh. As a semi-aquatic snake, it eats aquatic life such as fish, frogs, and other amphibians. Now and then it will take birds, earthworms, smaller snakes and turtles, and crayfish. The water snake is in turn eaten by alligators and birds such as the great blue heron.
10. Burmese Python
As its name suggests, this python is not native to Florida. It is native to Southeast Asia. People bought the admittedly attractive non-venomous snake as a pet but released it into the wild when it got too big, figuring that it could survive in the warm Florida climate.
They were right. When you read about a goat or a deer being attacked and swallowed by a huge snake, this python is the culprit. It is by far the longest and heaviest snake listed here and can grow longer than 16 feet and weigh over 100 pounds. This is especially true of females, who are much bigger than males. Indeed, a Burmese python named Baby was nearly 19 feet long and weighed over 400 pounds at her death.
Go here to learn more about the Burmese python.
List of the 10 Snakes in Florida
Snakes are found all over the world, however, here is a list of snakes that call Florida home:
|Snakes Found in Florida
|Eastern Mud Snake
|Brahminy Blind Snake
|Eastern Indigo Snake
|Florida Pine Snake
|Eastern Coral Snake
|Florida Banded Water Snake
Other Reptiles Found in Florida
Snakes are not the only reptiles inhabiting Florida. Below are a couple of reptiles that you may chance upon in the Sunshine State.
Slender Glass Lizard
This type of lizard could easily be mistaken for a snake for the simple fact that it has no legs. One distinguishing characteristic between these lizards and actual snakes is that they have movable eyelids. If you encounter one in the wild, chances are it could very well be missing part of its tail, as its tails easily break off even without being touched. Being lizards, they mostly feed on insects and small animals and are sometimes preyed on by snakes. The slender glass lizard is listed as a least-concern species in the United States as a whole.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Loggerhead sea turtles are native to ocean waters surrounding Florida, and are very large, with adults weighing from 170-350 pounds. Their lifespans are impressive as well, ranging from 70-80 years.
These turtles are listed as a threatened species there. The main threats to their existence come from the fishing industry in the form of getting caught in trawls, longlines, gillnets, or hooks. Habitat encroachment in beach areas where loggerhead turtles nest is another issue, as well as shoreline hardening and armoring.
Other Dangerous Animals Found In Florida
In addition to snakes, Florida is home to other dangerous animals, many of which live in lakes and marshes in the state and can pose a threat to humans.
On our list of the 10 most dangerous animals that can be found in the depths of lakes and swamps is the bull shark, which accounts for the majority of shark attacks in Florida and inhabits warm coastal waters and estuarine on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. There are 1.25 million American alligators in Florida, present in every county, and while attacks are not common they are known to be very aggressive when guarding their young in nests. American crocodiles, however, are much more deadly and croc attacks are 100 times more common than shark attacks. Check out more of the dangerous animals here.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © David Huntley Creative/Shutterstock.com
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What rattlesnakes live in Florida?
Florida is home to three rattlesnake species. The largest is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, which lives throughout all of Florida with a range that even extends to the Florida Keys. In northern Florida, you may encounter the timber rattlesnake, while the dusky pygmy rattlesnake is the smallest rattlesnake species that lives in the state.
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