Florida is one of the most diverse states with a diverse range of ecosystems that are home to many wonderful and unusual animals. From tropical regions, swamps, rivers, coastlines, and coral reefs, there is something for everyone. There are more than 50 species of snakes that call Florida home, and some of them can get pretty big. But, just how big are they? Join us as we discover the biggest snakes in Florida!
8. Eastern Rat Snake
Although eastern rat snakes are typically between 3 and 6 feet long, the longest recorded length was 7.5 feet. Eastern rat snakes in Florida are yellowish-orange with four darker stripes down their body. They live in hardwood forests, swamps, and farmland and are even found in residential areas where they sometimes climb into attics. They are extremely capable snakes as they can swim, climb, and burrow. Eastern rat snakes are nocturnal during the summer but are active during the day in spring and fall. However, they hibernate underground during the winter. These snakes are not venomous and feed on birds, frogs, rodents, and lizards.
7. Florida Pine Snake
Capable of reaching 7.5 feet long, Florida pine snakes are large, powerful reptiles. They are typically a light brown or gray color with black or brown markings. Florida pine snakes live in woodlands, prairies, and deserts at elevations of up to 9,000 feet. They prefer areas with loose, sandy soil to create burrows in which to lay their eggs. These snakes mainly eat rats, mice, moles, and voles. They are incredibly helpful as they regularly kill great numbers of rodents which are classed as pests. Sadly, the population of Florida pine snakes has been declining in recent years, and they have officially been a threatened species in Florida since 2017.
6. Eastern Indigo Snake
One of the biggest snakes in Florida that is native to the state is the eastern indigo snake which can grow to almost 8 feet long. Eastern indigo snakes are a glossy black color and are particularly stunning as they often appear to be purple in sunlight. They prefer to live in hardwood hammocks, prairies, and sandy soil next to streams. Eastern indigo snakes spend much of the winter in tortoise burrows, often cohabiting with them. They are not venomous and feed on a variety of birds, lizards, frogs, toads, and any other small mammals that they can catch. The main predators of eastern indigo snakes are actually humans, as they are regularly killed accidentally by rattlesnake hunters. As a result, eastern indigo snakes are officially listed as a threatened species in Florida and Georgia.
5. Javan File Snake
Also known as elephant trunk snakes, Javan file snakes can grow to lengths of 8 feet, with females being longer than males. They are dark brown with cream sides and bellies. The most unusual thing about these snakes is their skin which is extremely baggy and almost seems to be too big for their bodies. Javan file snakes are native to Sumatra and were introduced to Florida in the 1970s. They are aquatic snakes and live in slow-moving water – such as rivers, lakes, streams, and swamps. They spend the majority of their lives in the water and very rarely come onto land. Javan file snakes feed mainly on fish, frogs, toads, and salamanders.
4. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Despite typically being 3 to 6 feet long, with the largest recorded length of 8ft 3in, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are definitely one of the biggest snakes in Florida. They are the largest species of rattlesnake in the world and have heavy brownish bodies which are covered with large diamonds. The diamonds then change to dark bands on the tail, which ends in a rattle. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes live in pine woodland, scrubland, marshes, and cypress swamps. They are excellent swimmers and have been seen to swim between islands in the Florida Keys. Eastern diamondbacks are venomous snakes and can strike from distances of four feet. Their diet mainly consists of rabbits, rodents, and birds.
3. Boa Constrictor
One of the best-known snakes is the boa constrictor which reaches 10 to 15 feet long. Boa constrictors are not native to Florida and were introduced through the pet trade in the 1960s/70s. They have thick bodies and are dark brown with an hourglass pattern. These snakes are one of the most adaptable snakes around and live in a range of habitats – including swamps, forests, and alongside rivers and canals where there is plenty of cover from vegetation. They are excellent swimmers, and smaller specimens are capable climbers, so they can typically be found anywhere within their favored locations. Boa constrictors are most famous for their method of killing their prey – by wrapping their bodies around them until they suffocate or have a cardiac arrest. Boa constrictors eat a mixture of birds and mammals and have very few predators.
2. African Rock Python
The second biggest snake in Florida is the African rock python, which is another non-native snake. African rock pythons are from sub-Saharan Africa and were introduced to Florida in 2002. These snakes are typically between 10 and 16 feet long and have thick, heavy bodies, which are brown with dark blotches that are bordered with black. They are extremely adaptable snakes and live in many different habitats. However, their preferred habitats in Florida are sawgrass prairies, wetlands, and alongside lakes and rivers. African rock pythons are particularly well established in south Florida and in the Florida Everglades. They are powerful constrictors and eat anything they can catch, whatever the size. Due to their incredible bulk and strength, the only predators of African rock pythons are alligators.
1. Burmese Python
The biggest snake in Florida is the Burmese python. Although most Burmese pythons only reach around 16 feet, the largest ever recorded in Florida was almost a whopping 19 feet long! This record was set in 2020 when an 18ft 9in long Burmese python was captured in the Florida Everglades. This massive snake surpassed the previous record of 18ft 8in, recorded in 2013. Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and are actually from southeast Asia and were introduced in 1979 through the pet trade. Burmese pythons are dark brown with dark blotches down their sides. They typically live near permanent water sources, and one of their favored habitats is wetland regions – such as the Florida Everglades.
Due to their massive size, Burmese pythons have quickly become the most invasive snakes in Florida. This is because they eat pretty much anything they can catch – whether it’s birds, mammals, or amphibians. These snakes prey on many native species, including some which are endangered – such as Key Largo woodrats – which has led to a significant decline in their numbers. Additionally, other native species have to compete against these massive snakes for food and habitat space. Native animals such as rabbits, foxes, and bobcats simply can’t compete against Burmese pythons, which means they are unable to maintain their populations.
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