Florida vs. California: Which State Has More Venomous Snakes?

Rattlesnakes While HIking - Timber Rattlesnake
© Joe McDonald/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: July 17, 2023

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California is the Golden State, a gem on the West Coast with gorgeous mountains, national parks, and unique wildlife. Florida is the Sunshine State, a paradise on the East Coast with warm weather, a diverse culture, and great beaches. One thing the two different states have in common is the presence of venomous snakes. So, between Florida vs. California, which state has more venomous snakes? 

Take a look at the various species of venomous reptiles that slither around these states. Find out which state has more species, when they’re most active in the area, and which one is most dangerous! For the sake of clarity, we’re only looking at which state has more species of venomous snakes living in its borders instead of the population of these reptiles.

Florida vs. California: Which State Has More Venomous Snakes?

Flag of California waving in the wind

California has more venomous snakes than Florida.

©iStock.com/Matthew Starling

FloridaCalifornia
Eastern Diamondback RattlesnakePanamint Rattlesnake
Eastern CopperheadGreat Basin Rattlesnake
Eastern Coral SnakeWestern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Florida CottonmouthRed Diamond Rattlesnake
Pygmy RattlesnakeSidewinder Rattlesnake
Timber RattlesnakeMojave Desert Sidewinder
Colorado Desert Sidewinder
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
Mojave Rattlesnake
Speckled Rattlesnake

California has more venomous snakes than Florida with 11 different venomous species living in California and only 6 venomous species living in Florida. This list included species as well as subspecies that call this part of the country home.

California’s only native venomous snakes are rattlesnakes. All 11 types of rattlesnakes in the state are very dangerous to humans and other animals. Untreated, a rattlesnake bite can be fatal to humans.

In a sense, Florida has a more diverse venomous snake population. Not only does the state have rattlesnakes, but it also has coral snakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths. All of these snakes could potentially kill a human with their venom.  

When Are Venomous Snakes Most Active in Each State?

Western diamondback rattlesnake

Venomous snakes are not as active in the middle of the day.

©iStock.com/Banu R

Snakes tend to be most active during the night, at dawn, and around dusk since they are cold-blooded reptiles. However, different snakes are most active at different times during the year. For example, California is home to 11 species and subspecies of rattlesnakes.

Rattlesnakes are most active during the warmer months of the year. The rattlesnake season in California starts in March and runs through October. Meanwhile, rattlesnake bites are most common in California during April through October.

Encounters with the snakes are much rarer during the colder months when the reptiles enter their brumation period. People should be on the lookout for rattlesnakes in California during most warm months.

The snakes in Florida are most active during the same times and seasons. The so-called snakebite season in Florida runs from April to October. These months are when emergency services receive the most calls for venomous snakebites and venomous snake sightings. Still, Florida’s Poison Control Centers take more venomous bite reports in the spring compared to the rest of the year.

The hot weather in Florida makes snakes seek shelter during the hottest part of the day. Their desire to avoid the heat along with the snakes’ preferred hunting methods affect their behavior. Cottonmouth and rattlesnake sightings are more common early in the morning, during the evening, and throughout the night.

So, snakes are active at the same time in both states. There is no difference between Florida vs. California in this case.

What Are the Most Dangerous Snakes in Florida vs. California?

mojave rattlesnake gets a head shot while coiled under a large rock

The Mojave rattlesnake is the most dangerous snake in California.

©J.A. Dunbar/Shutterstock.com

People could use several measures to determine which snake is the most dangerous in each state. The reptiles’ behavior, willingness to use a venomous bite, and venom potency all inform the level of danger posed by these snakes.

For example, the copperhead’s camouflage makes it hard to see in its natural habitat. The species also tend to freeze in place instead of fighting or fleeing. As a result, they deliver about 2,920 bites of the 7,000 to 8,000 reported bites throughout the U.S. each year.  

Yet, for this article, the most dangerous snake is the one with the most potent venom. The strength of a snake’s venom is based on the LD50 measure. The most dangerous snake in California is the Mojave rattlesnake. This creature has an LD50 of 0.18 mg/kg and a venom yield of 50 to 150 mg. The only rattlesnake with more potent venom is the tiger rattlesnake.

The most dangerous snake in Florida by the strength of its venom is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. This creature has an LD50 of 1.2 mg/kg, but the eastern coral snake is close behind at 1.3 mg/kg.

How Common Are Snakebites in Both States?

Snakebites are somewhat common in Florida and California

Snakebites are somewhat common in Florida and California.

©Mufti Adi Utomo/Shutterstock.com

Venomous snakebites are somewhat rare in the United States as a whole. People only report about 7,000 to 8,000 venomous snakebites each year. According to the California Poison Control System, venomous snakes bite about 300 people per year in California.

That represents an increase of about 50 rattlesnake bites per year from a state report in 2008. With towns continuing to grow into rattlesnake territory and more people going hiking, greater numbers of people are coming into contact with these snakes.

Venomous snakes bite about 300 people in Florida each year as well. However, the statistics were delivered in 2009, therefore the actual number of bites is likely higher. Both states have a rising trend regarding venomous snakebites.  

How to React After a Venomous Snakebite

Snake bite

First aid for a snake bite involves calling for help and identifying the snake responsible, if possible.

©Microgen/Shutterstock.com

A person bitten by a venomous snake needs to seek medical attention immediately. The following steps outline the proper response as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  1. Call the local number for emergency medical services.
  2. While standing far away from the snake, try to take a picture of the snake or have someone else do so.
  3. Clean the wound with soap and water and cover it with a clean dressing.
  4. Remove any rings, watches, or other jewelry that could be affected by swelling near the bite area.
  5. Outline the farthest distance of swelling near the bite with a marker and write the time.
  6. Sit down, stay calm, and wait for the emergency medical services to render aid.

Following these steps gives a person the best chance to get the proper aid.

Between Florida vs. California, California has more venomous snakes. California is also home to the most dangerous snake of the two areas. Always make sure to stay aware of your surroundings when living and working in places with venomous snakes. That’s especially true between April and October when most interactions happen.

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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