Florida's Venomous Snakes

Part 1


Pit vipers include: Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Water Moccasins (Cotton mouths). These snakes have a head larger than their neck. They may have a colored band striped through their eyes like a mask. Only the rattlesnakes have rattles.

Coral Snakes

photo of a coral snake

These snakes have slender heads no bigger than their necks, they have red and black bands (red touch yellow, kill a fellow. Red touch back, venom lack). They have black noses and bands encircle the body like many necklaces. These snakes have small teeth and must “chew” to inject venom. A bite from a Coral Snake always requires antivenin and intensive care. I don’t know about you but I don’t plan to get close enough to a snake to see what color his nose are, or the color of his bands.


Diamond back Rattle Snakes

The eastern diamondback is the largest and most dangerous of our native snakes. It also ranks high on the list of poisonous snakes of the world. Its large body size, quantity of venom, aggressive defensive tactics and tremendous striking speed make this snake one to be treated with extreme caution.

The diamondback is recognized by a distinctive pattern of yellow - bordered diamond - shaped body markings. Brittle, button - shaped segments form a rattling mechanism at the end of the tail. The arrow - shaped head is much wider than the neck.

map of eastern diamondback rattlesnake range

Found throughout Florida, the diamondback occurs in every county an on many of the coastal islands. It may be encountered in almost nay habitat, but most commonly frequents palmetto flatlands, pine wood, abandoned fields, and brushy and grassy areas. In most situations, this snake is difficult to spot since its color pattern blends into the background.

photo of Eastern Diamondback RattlesnakeWhen disturbed the rattler assumes a defensive position with the body coiled upon itself, rattle free and elevated to sound a warning whirr, and head and neck raised in an S - position. From this stance, when the target is close, the rattler can repeatedly deliver its stabbing strike and return to its original position so rapidly that the movement appear only as a blur to the human eye.

The effective striking distance is from one - third to more than one - half the of the snakes body. Recurved fangs or teeth, lying folded inside the roof of the rattler’s mouth, are self erecting when the mouth is opened wide during a strike. As the fangs pierce the victim, pressure exerted on the poison sacs extrude venom into the wound. When disturbed it generally, but not always, sounds a warning rattle.

Rattlesnakes feed on small warm - blooded animals, mainly rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, shrews, and occasionally birds. This species is commercially valued for its hide, meat and venom and for exhibition purpose. It renders economic service to farmers by preying on crop destroying rodents.