The last thing anyone wants to hear is a rattling sound when hanging outdoors. If you’ve ever been hiking and heard the unmistakable buzzing rattle, you know all too well the fear evoked. Most people don’t like snakes in general, but rattlesnakes produce lethal venom dangerous to humans. However, these venomous creatures avoid contact with humans and are more afraid of us than we are of them. If you live in the Sunshine State, you may wonder when you can expect to encounter a rattlesnake. Discover when Florida rattlesnakes are most active, including where they live, when they hibernate, and what to do if you see one.
Rattlesnakes are pit vipers, venomous predators that prey on small animals. They get their name from the rattles at the end of their tails. They vibrate their tails as a warning or to deter predators like hawks and king snakes. Though your odds of being bitten by a rattlesnake are small, they account for the most snakebite injuries in North America.
There are three rattlesnake species in Florida: eastern diamondback, dusky pygmy, and timber rattlesnake. The pygmy rattlesnake is the most frequently encountered venomous snake in the state. They are also the smallest and have quieter rattles. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are the largest venomous snakes in Florida, reaching up to 72 inches long.
What Part of Florida Has the Most Rattlesnakes?
Rattlesnakes are found in every county in Florida, including the Keys. The eastern diamondback has a range throughout the entire state, while the timber rattlesnake only lives in 12 counties. The dusky pygmy lives across the state but is absent from the Florida Keys.
Florida rattlesnakes inhabit many different environments, from dry and sparse to lush and moist. The diamondback prefers drier regions, like scrubby pine woods and fields. Pygmy rattlesnakes can be found in wooded areas, swamps, marshes, ponds, and lakes. And timber rattlesnakes also like moist, wooded habitats, but they can’t handle extra hot climates. They usually stick to Northern Florida, where temperatures can be milder.
The Florida Everglades are by far the most snake-infested areas in the state.
What Month Are Snakes Most Active in Florida?
There is no doubt that snakes are abundant year-round throughout Florida. The weather is warm, there is plenty of food, and lots of vegetation. But the warmer months from April to October are when they are the most active in the state. They are also more active during the early morning and early evening hours, keeping with a crepuscular schedule.
You may be more likely to encounter them in rural areas, especially when walking through tall grass and piles of leaves. Avoid walking through areas like this. But if you must, ensure you are wearing proper enclosed shoes, preferably those with steel toes.
When Do Rattlesnakes Hibernate in Florida?
Rattlesnakes are cold-blooded animals, so they don’t hibernate. Instead, they go into a state of suspended animation known as brumation. During this period, rattlesnakes stop eating, and their bodily functions decrease significantly. Brumation occurs with lower temperatures, shorter days, and changes in humidity. Florida brumation season occurs from November to March but can fluctuate depending on the area and weather conditions.
What To Do if You See a Rattlesnake in Florida
The primary things you should do if you encounter a rattlesnake are to remain calm and give it space. Don’t try to handle it, throw things at it, or kill it. If you have a dog with you, keep it back on a leash. And warn others in the vicinity, alerting them to its location. You can also call animal control if it is in a residential area.
What to do if a rattlesnake bites you:
- Call 911
- Try to determine what kind of snake caused the bite
- Stay calm and don’t move, keeping the limb level with the body. Remain like this until help arrives
Don’t try to do anything with the wound. The best thing you can do is leave it alone. Using a tourniquet, applying ice, cutting the wound, or sucking out the venom may make matters worse.
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