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Poisonous Snakes Of Florida

Poisonous Snake

01.13.2006 - There are six species of poisonous snake in Florida. Before I continue and describe them, I'll state that the correct term is actually venomous (a specific type of toxin that's actively injected) and not poisonous (any toxin absorbed via touching, eating, or breathing), but of course I realize that many people aren't familiar with the difference, and are thus searching online for information on poisonous snakes. I'll also point out that poisonous snakes are relatively rare compared to non-poisonous ones. I think there's about 45 species of snake in Florida, and only 6 are poisonous. And those poisonous snakes are pretty rare.  Most such snakes (5 out of 6) are members of the pit viper family, such as the Cottonmouth seen in the above photo.  You'll notice a hole near the tip of the nose.  That's actually a heat-sensing pit, not a nostril.  Snakes smell with their tongues.  Also, you'll notice that the snake has an elliptical pupil, like a cat.  Of course, you don't want to be close enough to a poisonous snake to ever really see these features, so if in doubt, just leave the snake alone! Here is a brief list of Florida's poisonous snakes.

1) Copperhead - This is a common venomous snake across the eastern US.  It inhabits only the very northern reaches of Florida, and is not present in the peninsula, or down here in Orlando, where I work.

2) Timber Rattlesnake - Another widespread species across the east, which only lives in the northern tiip of Florida.  It's often called the Canebrake Rattlesnake.

3) Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake - This is the big daddy, the largest, fastest, most dangerous snake in North America.  Most snakebite fatalities in America are due to this awesome serpent.  It grows up to 8' in length, but isn't very common.

4) Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake - A tiny little bastard, it's not lethal, but it is aggressive.  Some people call this snake the Ground Rattler.  It grows to perhaps 2', and is fairly common.

5) Cottonmouth - Also called the Water Moccasin, this snake is a pit viper without rattles, and it primarily lives in water or swamps.  It can grow to above 5' and has a very nasty bite, far worse than the Copperhead.  They're fairly common.

6) Eastern Coral Snake - This one is not like the others.  It's of the Elapidae family, and possesses a very potent neurotoxic venom.  It's small and thin and shy, and it's red, yellow, and black in color.  It rarely grows above 2' in length.

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