The 34 Types of SNAKES That Live in Florida! (ID Guide)

There are A LOT of snakes in Florida!

Common Snakes in Florida

 

And what’s interesting is that they are all incredibly unique and have adapted to fill many habitats and niches.

 

You’ll see that the snakes that live in Florida are very different from each other.

 

For example, some species are venomous, while others use constriction to immobilize their prey. Or the fact that certain snakes are rarely seen because they spend most of their time underground, but others are comfortable living EXTREMELY close to humans.

 

Today, you’re going to learn about the 34 types of snakes in Florida!

 

Also, if you enjoy this article, make sure to check out these other Florida guides!

 


#1. Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus adamanteus

Types of Snakes found in Florida

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 3 to 6 feet long!
  • Coloration is a mixture of browns, yellows, grays, or olive. Look for the distinctive diamonds that run down their back.
  • A black band covers the eyes, which have vertical, cat-like pupils. A pit between the eye and nostril is present on each side, and adults have a distinctive rattle.

 

This species is the longest, heaviest VENOMOUS snake in Florida!

 

Some impressive individuals have even grown up to 8 feet long. They prefer relatively dry habitats but can also be spotted around the borders of wetlands and in wet prairies and savannas. The best time to look for these rattlesnakes is during the morning and evening, as this is when they are most active.

Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake Range Mapeastern diamond back rattlesnake

These impressive venomous snakes can strike as far as two-thirds of their body length, meaning a six-foot individual can reach prey four feet away! When attacking, they inject their prey, which includes mice, rabbits, and squirrels, with venom. Once their victim is bitten, they release it and track it to the place it has died to consume it.

 

As you may have guessed, Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnakes typically issue a warning with their rattle when threatened. If you hear this sound, back away and move along, or you risk being bitten. LISTEN BELOW!

 

 

Interestingly, young snakes don’t have a rattle; as it grows as they get older. Each time an individual sheds their skin, a new section is added (though sections do commonly break off).

 


#2. Timber Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus horridus

Snakes species that live in Florida

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 30 to 60 inches in length.
  • Coloration is variable and generally ranges from yellowish-brown to gray to almost black. Look for dark brown or black crossbands on their back.
  • Heavy-bodied with characteristic rattle on the tail.

 

The Timber Rattlesnake, also known as the Canebrake Rattlesnake, is found in a wide variety of habitats in northern Florida. Look for these venomous snakes in lowland thickets, high areas around rivers and flood plains, agricultural areas, deciduous forests, and coniferous forests.

Timber Rattlesnake Range Map

timber rattlesnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes are ambush predators, waiting for unsuspecting prey to come within range of their strike. They feed primarily on small mammals but may also consume frogs, birds, and other smaller snakes. Timber Rattlesnakes strike their prey and release them, waiting until their venom has taken effect before eating them.

 

These venomous snakes are potentially the most dangerous species found in Florida due to their large size, long fangs, and high venom yield. Luckily, Timber Rattlesnakes have a mild disposition and don’t bite often. They typically give plenty of warning by rattling and posturing.

 

The Timber Rattlesnake played a noteworthy role in U.S. history. Found in the original 13 colonies, it was used as a symbol during the American Revolution. In 1775 it was featured at the center of the “Gadsden Flag.” This yellow flag depicts a coiled and ready-to-strike Timber Rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.”

 


#3. Florida Cottonmouth

  • Agkistrodon conanti

Common Snakes species in Florida

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 30 to 48 inches in length.
  • Heavy bodied with speckled, splotchy light and dark brown banding, which darkens with age.
  • Dark, broad facial stripe through the eye. Look for elliptical, cat-like pupils and heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils.

 

The Florida Cottonmouth used to be considered a subspecies of the Northern Cottonmouth, but now it’s its own species! They are typically found in or near bodies of water in Florida, including marshes, swamps, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. They also inhabit the woodlands near these water sources.

Florida Cottonmouth Range Map

cottonmouth range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These VENOMOUS snakes are excellent swimmers and often eat aquatic prey such as baby alligators, small turtles, frogs, and fish. As a member of the pit viper family, they have facial pits which they use to detect infrared radiation when hunting.

 

Interestingly, when hunting in the water, they typically hold their kill in their mouth while the venom takes effect. But when hunting on land, they release their prey, such as rodents, and track it to consume once it dies. The thought is that land animals, like rodents, are more likely to bite back, so it makes sense to make sure they are dead.

Florida Snakes species

Florida Cottonmouths, which are also called Water Moccasins, don’t typically flee when confronted. They give the classic “cottonmouth” threat display, showing the startlingly white interior of their mouth and emitting a hissing sound.


#4. Midland Water Snake

  • Nerodia sipedon pleuralis

Kinds of Snakes in Florida

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 50 inches in length.
  • Typically light gray in color, but some individuals are reddish.
  • Near the head, they have dark crossbands. As you move down the snake, the crossbands are replaced by dark squarish blotches.

 

This snake is only found in the western panhandle of Florida!

 

Midland Water Snakes prefer slow-moving or standing water such as ponds, lakes, vernal pools, marshes, and slow-moving rivers and streams. They’re most often seen basking on rocks or logs in or near the water.

 

Common Water Snake Range Map (Midland Water Snakes are subspecies!)

common watersnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

While non-venomous, they can deliver a painful bite!

 

Their saliva contains a mild anticoagulant that can cause bites to bleed, making the injury appear worse. These important defense mechanisms help water snakes survive predators such as raccoons, snapping turtles, foxes, opossums, other snakes, and birds of prey.

 


#5. Plain-bellied Watersnake

  • Nerodia erythrogaster

Types of Snakes that live in Florida


Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults have thick bodies and range from 24 to 40 inches in length.
  • Solid coloration of gray, brown, olive, or black.
  • As the name suggests, they have a plain unmarked underside varying from red to yellow.
  • Also called Redbelly, Yellowbelly, Copperbelly, or Blotched Watersnake.

 

The Plain-bellied Watersnake can be found near various water sources, including rivers, floodplains, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. This species spends an unusual amount of time on land compared with other water snakes found in Florida. Especially during hot, humid weather, they can be found in woodlands quite far from a water source.

 

Plain-bellied Watersnake Range Map

plain bellied watersnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

They feed on BOTH aquatic and terrestrial prey, including crayfish, fish, salamanders, frogs, and other amphibians. Another unusual feature of this species is that they will sit and wait to ambush their prey, especially on land. Almost all other water snakes actively hunt and chase their victims!

 

If captured, they release a foul-smelling musk and are not afraid to bite! Plain-bellied Watersnakes are eaten by largemouth bass, egrets, hawks, and sometimes other larger snakes.

 


#6. Queen Snake

  • Regina septemvittata

Common Florida Snakes

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are generally around 24 inches in length though individuals up to 36 inches have been reported.
  • Coloration is drab brown or olive green with two lighter stripes down the sides.
  • The underside is yellow or tan, with four dark stripes that run the length of their belly. No other similar species has this feature!

 

Queen Snakes prefer moving water and are generally found near streams and rivers with rocky bottoms. They have highly permeable skin, making them susceptible to evaporative water loss. As you can imagine, they are rarely spotted far from water.

Queen Snake Range Map

queensnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

Queen Snakes are considered less secretive than many other snakes in Florida.

 

They are primarily diurnal and can be spotted basking on rocks, overhanging branches, or vegetation near the water’s edge. They often take refuge under rocks along the edges of streams. If you’re lucky, you may see them swimming.

 

Queen Snakes are specialist predators that primarily feed on crayfish. They almost exclusively prey on newly molted crayfish, which have soft bodies and can’t use their pinchers yet. They hunt by probing under rocks and other submerged objects for crayfish.

 


#7. Southern Watersnake

  • Nerodia fasciata

southern watersnake (banded)

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is typically gray, greenish-gray, or brown with darker cross bands. However, some individuals may be so dark that the bands are barely distinguishable.
  • Flat heads and heavy bodies.
  • Also called the Banded or Florida Watersnake.

 

The Southern Watersnake is found in Florida near most freshwater sources. Look for them everywhere, including lakes, ponds, rivers, marshes, swamps, wetlands, and streams. They’re often spotted on branches overhanging the water, sunning themselves.

Southern Watersnake Range Map

southern or banded watersnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

 

These snakes are primarily nocturnal and spend much of their time hunting along the shoreline for frogs and small fish. Like other watersnakes, they quickly grab their prey and swallow it alive.

 

Southern Watersnakes are docile and non-venomous. But when they are captured or grabbed, they will flatten their heads, release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the tip of their tail, and may bite. Unfortunately, they are sometimes killed because they are mistaken for the venomous cottonmouth.

 


#8. Glossy Swampsnake

  • Liodytes rigida

glossy swampsnake or crayfish snake -

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 14 to 24 inches in length.
  • Coloration is a glossy brownish to olive with yellow lip scales. Sometimes two dark or black stripes run down the back.
  • The underside is yellow with two rows of black half-moons or dots.

 

Glossy Swampsnakes inhabit and rarely leave slow-moving waterways such as cypress swamps, roadside ditches, ponds, lakes, marshes, streams, and rivers. These water snakes are quite secretive and often hide under logs and debris near the water or inside crayfish burrows. Your best chance to see one might be on roadways during or after heavy rain.

Glossy Swampsnake Range Map

glossy swampsnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

 

These nocturnal snakes primarily feed on crayfish. They don’t constrict their prey but use their coils to help hold it while swallowing it alive, typically tail-first. Their small, chisel-shaped teeth allow them to consume hard-shelled crayfish.

 

When disturbed, Glossy Swampsnakes quickly flee into the water and dive to the bottom. If cornered, they may flatten themselves and release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tail. If picked up, they may hiss and feign striking but rarely bite.

 

Due to their highly secretive nature, little is known about the population status of these water snakes in Florida. But their dependence on aquatic habitats and crayfish may subject them to decline due to habitat loss and degradation.

 


#9. Brown Watersnake

  • Nerodia taxispilota

brown watersnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 30 to 60 inches in length.
  • Coloration is light brown to dark brown with darker brown blotches down the center of the back and on the sides.
  • Thick body with a large head that is distinct from the neck.
  • It may also be called Water-pilot, False Moccasin, Great Watersnake, Pied Watersnake, Southern Watersnake, and Water Rattle.

 

Brown Watersnakes are found near various permanent water sources, including rivers, cypress stands, swamps, lakes, ponds, and canals. They’re rarely seen far from the water’s edge. Look for them in areas with overhanging vegetation, emergent snags, and rocky banks, which provide places for the water snakes to bask.

brown watersnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

Unlike most other snakes in Florida, they feed almost exclusively on fish, particularly young catfish.

 

Brown Watersnakes are also excellent climbers and can be spotted basking on branches overhanging the water at up to 20 feet. If disturbed, they’ll quickly drop into the water and dive under the surface to flee. They have been known to fall into passing boats accidentally! 🙂

 

This species is relatively common throughout its range and isn’t considered threatened. However, it is protected in some states. Like other watersnakes, it faces habitat degradation and loss, along with needless killing from people who mistake them for venomous cottonmouths.

 


#10. Eastern Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

eastern garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 18 to 26 inches in length.
  • Coloration varies and can be mixtures of green, brown, or black. Look for a distinct yellow or whitish stripe down the center of their back.
  • Some individuals may exhibit a checkered body pattern.
  • Subspecies of the Common Garter Snake.

 

Eastern Garter Snakes are common and easy to locate in Florida!

 

In fact, they are typically the snake species that people come across the most. They’re well-adapted to living around people and can often be found in city parks, farmland, cemeteries, and suburban lawns and gardens. Though not required, they prefer grassy environments near freshwater sources such as ponds, lakes, ditches, and streams.

eastern garter snake range map

Look for these snakes in Florida basking in the sun in grassy areas near cover.

 

Eastern Garter Snakes protect themselves when they are cornered or feel threatened. For example, if you capture or continually disturb one, it will defecate and release a foul-smelling musk from its glands. It’s also common for them to bite as a last resort!

 

The Eastern Garter Snake most commonly preys on toads, frogs, slugs, salamanders, fish, and worms. However, they are very opportunistic and will eat other insects and small animals they can overpower. They’re active during both the day and night, depending on the temperature.

 


#11. Eastern Ribbon Snake

  • Thamnophis saurita

species of garter snakes in Florida

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 18 to 26 inches in length. A slender snake with a long tail!
  • Coloration is brown to nearly black with three bright yellow to cream stripes; one down the back and one down each side.
  • Snout and entire head are brownish, lips and underneath head are white.

 

Did you see a slender garter snake in Florida with a long tail?

 

If so, it was probably an Eastern Ribbon Snake!

eastern ribbon snake range map

This species is semi-aquatic and RARELY found far from a source of water. Look for them in a wide variety of habitats, including marshes, grassy floodplains, streams, ditches with grass, wet areas in meadows, and woodlands adjacent to wetlands. Ribbon snakes are even found in suburban areas that match these conditions.

 

If disturbed, these snakes will quickly flee into grass or brushy areas. If caught, they are not aggressive and rarely bite. But you can expect them to defecate and spray musk onto your hands. In the wild, Eastern Ribbon Snakes rely on blending into their surroundings to get away from predators.

 

There are THREE subspecies of Eastern Ribbon Snake that live in Florida:

 

#1. Common Ribbon Snake (T. s. sauritus): The pictures above display this subspecies. It is primarily found in the western panhandle.

 

#2. Peninsula Ribbon Snake (T. s. sackenii):

Pictured below. The middorsal stripes are fainter or lacking when compared to the Common Ribbon Snake. The most common subspecies found in Florida!

peninsula ribbon snake

 

#3. Blue-striped Ribbonsnake (T. s. nitae):

Pictured below. The lateral stripes are a beautiful blue! ONLY found along the northwest coast of Florida.

blue striped ribbon snake

 


#12. Eastern Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis getula

eastern kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 36 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is shiny black with white or yellow chain-link bands, but some individuals may be entirely black.
  • Stout head and small beady eyes.
  • Also called the Common Kingsnake.

 

Eastern Kingsnakes thrive in various habitats in Florida!

 

Look for them in hardwood and pine forests, bottomlands, swamps, and wetlands, as well as farmlands and suburban areas. They are a terrestrial species but are often associated with water preferring riparian habitats along stream banks or marsh edges.

 

Eastern Kingsnake Range Map

eastern kingsnake range map

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

A very secretive species, the Eastern Kingsnake is frequently spotted when moving logs, boards, tin, or other objects they use for cover. They’re constrictors and feed on various types of prey, including rodents, lizards, birds, and turtle eggs. Incredibly, they’re immune to venom from pit-vipers and regularly feed on smaller venomous snakes like copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes!

 

If disturbed, these snakes can mimic rattlesnakes by shaking their tails in dry leaves. They may also release a foul-smelling musk and bite if captured.

 

Unfortunately, the Eastern Kingsnake has seen dramatic declines in many areas. This is most likely due to habitat loss and degradation, imported fire ants, and disease.

 


#13. Scarlet Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis elapsoides

scarlet king snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 14 to 20 inches in length.
  • Coloration is alternating red, black, and yellow rings encircling the body; the yellow and red rings never touch.
  • Small head, barely distinct from the neck and a red snout.

 

Scarlet Kingsnakes are found in pine flat woods, pine-oak forests, fields, agricultural areas, and occasionally urban environments. But they’re hard to see because they’re secretive and mostly stay underground. Look for them under logs, rocks, boards, and other debris. However, they’re also excellent climbers and are sometimes spotted on trees and buildings.

Scarlet Kingsnake Range Map

scarlet kingsnake range map

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These vividly colored, non-venomous snakes are sometimes mistaken for venomous coral snakes. In fact, they were used as stand-ins for venomous snakes in the movies “Snakes on a Plane” and “The Mummy Returns.”

 

So how do you tell the difference between a dangerous coral snake and a harmless Scarlet Kingsnake in Florida?

coral snake vs scarlet snake

Just remember this rhyme, and you’ll never have to worry! “If red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow; if red touches black, you’re all right, Jack.”

 

These snakes are generally non-aggressive. However, they may vibrate their tail if disturbed, producing a buzzing sound when in leaf litter. If grabbed, they may strike and release a foul-smelling musk.

 


#14. Eastern Ratsnake

  • Pantherophis alleghaniensis

florida rat snake variation

 

These snakes have FOUR color variations that exist in Florida.

  • A. Completely black. Found in small parts of the eastern panhandle.
  • B. Completely orange. Also called the Everglades Ratsnake, which is where it primarily lives.
  • C. Yellow with black stripes running down its body. Also called the Yellow Ratsnake. This is the most common color variation in Florida and is found throughout the entire peninsula.
  • D. Gray with darker blotches running down its body. Found in most of the panhandle.

 

Look for Eastern Ratsnakes in agricultural areas, forests, and swampy woodlands. Make sure you look UP, as they are arboreal and are often found in trees! Adults range from 42 to 72 inches in length.

eastern rat snake range map

They’re also often seen in and around barns and old buildings because of the abundance of rodents, which they kill using constriction. Birds and eggs are also on the menu, with the latter being swallowed whole and broken once in their throat!

 

Eastern Ratsnakes are active during the day and night, especially just after sunset. They travel considerable distances and are often killed on roadways.

 

If disturbed, Eastern Ratsnakes will first try to slither away. If they feel cornered, the next step is to flatten their heads and lift the front of their bodies off the ground in an s-shape to appear more threatening and increase their striking range. They may also hiss from this position and bite if grabbed.

 


#15. Red Cornsnake

  • Pantherophis guttatus

red cornsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 72 inches in length.
  • Coloration is orangish-brown with black-bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches and a spear-shaped pattern on the head and neck.
  • The underside usually has a black and white checkerboard pattern which may have some orange.

 

Cornsnakes got their name because of their frequent presence near corn storage areas due to an abundance of rodents that also hang out at these locations. However, some sources maintain that they were named for the pattern on their underside, which sometimes looks like kernels of bi-color corn.

red cornsnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

Red Cornsnakes occupy various habitats in Florida, including overgrown fields, pinelands, swamps, and agricultural areas. They are sometimes found in suburban areas near other favorable habitats. Make sure you don’t only look on the ground, as they’re known to ascend trees, cliffs, and other elevated surfaces.

 

Red Cornsnakes prey on rodents, lizards, frogs, and birds and their eggs. These snakes are constrictors that squeeze and asphyxiate larger prey, but small prey may be swallowed whole without constriction.

 

These snakes are generally quite docile and are the second most popular pet snake (behind Ball Pythons) worldwide. However, if disturbed in the wild, they may vibrate their tail and lift the front of their body into an S-shape to appear more threatening. If grabbed or pinned, it’s not out of the question for them to bite their attacker, but they typically calm down quickly when being held.

 


#16. Scarletsnake

  • Cemophora coccinea

scarlet snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 14 to 26 inches in length.
  • Coloration is red with light gray, yellowish, or white bands with black borders.
  • Small, pointed red head with a light-colored band behind the eyes and light gray or white underside.

 

These beautiful snakes are commonly found in Florida in pine flat woods, dry prairies, hardwood hammocks, sandhills, and open woodlands. They are burrowers and prefer areas with loose, sandy soil, leaf litter, logs, and other material they can easily hide beneath.

scarlet snake range map

There are THREE subspecies of Scarletsnake, and they all look similar. You would need to be a trained herpetologist to tell the difference!

 

The Scarletsnake is non-venomous, but it’s sometimes confused with venomous coral snakes. An easy way to tell the difference between the two species is to remember the rhyme, “Red touches yellow, kill a fellow; red touches black, a friend of Jack.”

 

Incredibly docile, these snakes rarely bite even when picked up by humans. But even though they’re common throughout their range, it’s rare to actually see one. Scarletsnakes are very secretive and spend most of their time hidden.

 


#17. Rough Greensnake

  • Opheodrys aestivus

rough green snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 22 to 36 inches in length.
  • Coloration is bright green with a yellow or whitish underside.
  • SLENDER bodies and large eyes.
  • Also commonly called a Grass Snake.

 

This species is hard to mistake for any other snake in Florida!

 

Their bright green color makes for excellent camouflage against the foliage. They’re highly arboreal and spend much of their time climbing in low vegetation. Look for them coiled and sleeping in shrubs, tangles of vines, or other thick vegetation, especially if it’s near water.

rough green snake range map

When disturbed, Rough Greensnakes typically freeze and rely on their camouflage. They’re nonvenomous and generally very docile, seldom striking even if grabbed.

 

The Rough Greensnake is fairly common, but they do face several threats. They’re one of the most exploited pet snake species in North America. They’re also often killed on roads and face habitat loss, especially when small waterways are cleared of vegetation in developing areas.

 


#18. Pinesnake

  • Pituophis melanoleucus

pine snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 48 to 90 inches in length.
  • Coloration is white, yellow, or light gray with black, brown, or reddish-brown blotches, becoming darker towards the head.
  • Powerful body, small head, enlarged rostral (nose) scale, and white underside with dark spots on the sides.

 

Pinesnakes prefer areas in Florida with loose, sandy soils!

 

The reason for this is that they need areas where it’s easy for them to dig! These snakes are excellent burrowers and spend a great deal of time underground. They use underground burrows for winter hibernation and protection from hot weather.

pinesnake range map

Pinesnakes prey on rats, mice, moles, other small mammals, and eggs, often entering or diging into animal burrows after prey. Multiple kills are common.

 

When disturbed, these non-venomous snakes posture aggressively. They often hiss loudly and flatten their head. It’s also common for them to make a noise that sounds remarkably like a rattlesnake. Pinesnakes accomplish this by forcing air through its windpipe, which has a piece of cartilage called an epiglottis that flaps back and forth.

 


#19. Southeastern Crowned Snake

  • Tantilla coronata

Southeastern Crown Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically 8 to 10 inches in length.
  • Coloration is solid grayish-brown or light brown. A black pointed head followed by a whitish or cream band and then a black collar.
  • Slender snake with a solid pink, yellow, or white underside.

 

These tiny snakes occupy damp or dry woodland habitats in the panhandle of Florida.

 

They prefer areas with sandy, loose soils and plentiful organic matter and are skilled borrowers. In fact, they are rarely seen because they spend most of the day beneath the soil, rocks, logs, or organic debris! However, you may see them traveling on the surface at night.

crowned snake range map

Southeastern Crowned Snakes feed on small prey, including termites, worms, centipedes, spiders, and earth-dwelling insect larvae.

 

Interestingly, these snakes have small, chiseled fangs in the back of their jaw, which they use to inject venom into their prey. Luckily, the amount of venom is so small they are considered non-venomous when it comes to humans! And even when they are picked up, they generally don’t bite.

 


#20. Red-bellied Mudsnake

  • Farancia abacura

red bellied mud snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 40 to 54 inches in length.
  • Coloration is smooth, glossy black with a red and black checkered underside with the red extending up the sides, creating a triangle pattern.
  • The chin is heavily marked with black and usually yellow, creating a “zipper-like” appearance.

 

These semi-aquatic snakes are usually found in Florida near stagnant muddy waters of shallow streams, rivers, drainage ditches, canals, lakes, marshes, and swamps. They’re often spotted under water-soaked logs or other wet, organic debris and prefer habitats with dense vegetation and muddy bottoms and banks.

 

red bellied mudsnake range map

Red-bellied Mudsnakes are specialized hunters! Adult snakes feed almost exclusively on fully aquatic salamanders. They prey primarily on only two species, the Three-toed Amphiuma and the Lesser Siren.

 

These docile snakes don’t strike when disturbed or captured. Instead, if grabbed, they may press their harmless, blunt tail tip against their attacker, a behavior which has earned them the nicknames “horn snakes” and “stinging snakes” If continually handled, Red-bellied Mudsnakes may release a foul-smelling musk and go limp or play dead.

 

This species is incredibly secretive, and its status is poorly known in many areas.

 


#21. Rainbow Snake

  • Farancia erytrogramma

rainbow snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 27 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is smooth, glossy, iridescent bluish-black with three red stripes and yellow or pink lower sides.
  • A short tail that ends in a pointed, horny scale.

 

These beautiful snakes are highly aquatic and spend most of their lives in water. These powerful swimmers are commonly found in cypress swamps, marshes, blackwater creeks, lakes, slow-moving streams, tidal mudflats, and sandy coastal plains.

 

Rainbow Snakes are nocturnal and primarily prey on eels, earning them the nickname “Eel Moccasin.” However, they may also eat frogs, tadpoles, and salamanders, and juveniles in particular feed on earthworms and tadpoles. Prey is eaten alive, typically swallowed headfirst.

rainbow snake range map

There are two subspecies of Rainbow Snake that live in Florida. Unfortunately, the Southern Florida Rainbow Snake has not had a confirmed sighting in many years. It’s feared that it may be extinct. 🙁

 

The Common Rainbow Snake is considered a species of least concern. However, their secretive nature can make their populations hard to count. Degradation of aquatic habitats and any decline of eel populations could negatively impact them.

 


#22. Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

  • Heterodon platirhinos

eastern hog nosed snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 20 to 30 inches in length.
  • Coloration can be yellow, gray, brown, black, olive, or orange, often with darker blotches or spots down its side and back, though solid gray and black individuals are fairly common.
  • Thick-bodied, broad, triangle-shaped heads, and an upturned snout.

 

Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes prefer areas in Florida with sandy soil.

 

Here’s why:

 

Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes primarily prey on toads and use their upturned snout to dig for them in their burrows. They also have enlarged teeth at the rear of the upper jaw that they use to puncture and deflate toads that puff up when threatened. These snakes also have large adrenal glands, which secrete large amounts of hormones to counteract the toad’s potent skin poison!

eastern hog nosed snake range map

When disturbed, Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes lift their head off the ground and flatten their neck like a cobra! They may also hiss and false strike with a closed mouth.

 

If this display fails to scare off a predator, then the snake will play dead. They’ll roll onto their back, let their tongue hang out, and emit musk from glands near the base of their tail. Interestingly, when the threat has left, the snake will right itself and continue as normal. 🙂

 


#23. Dekay’s Brownsnake

  • Storeria dekayi

dekays brownsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 6 to 13 inches in length.
  • Coloration is light brown or gray to dark brown or black with two rows of dark spots down the back, which are sometimes linked.
  • A dark streak down the head and may have a light stripe down the center of the back.

 

Dekay’s Brownsnakes occupy various terrestrial habitats as long as there’s plenty of cover available such as rocks, logs, boards, and all sorts of trash and organic debris. They’re often found in backyards and gardens under objects.

 

dekays brownsnake range map

These secretive, nocturnal snakes hunt during the evening and night, feeding primarily on slugs and earthworms. However, they’ve also been known to consume snails, insects, insect larvae, small tree frogs, tadpoles, frog eggs, spiders, and fish. Prey is typically grabbed and quickly swallowed alive.

 

These docile snakes usually don’t bite in defense. Instead, if captured, they often squirm vigorously or flatten their bodies and may release foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tail.

 

This species is considered common in most of its range and is not a major conservation concern. It adapts well to human development and has a reputation as a “city snake.” However, pesticide usage and clean-up of cover objects may reduce their populations in urban areas by reducing their habitat and food source.

 


#24. Burmese Python

  • Python bivittatus

burmese python

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically 10 to 16 feet in length, but individuals may grow up to 23 feet!
  • Coloration is tan, cream, or tannish yellow with darker brown, black-bordered blotches down the back.
  • Dark head with a light stripe through each eye converging at the nose, forming a “V” pattern.

 

The Burmese Python is one of the largest snakes in the world!

 

Unfortunately, it is not native to Florida, and they are causing MASSIVE damage to ecosystems. Escaped and released snakes from the pet trade are to blame.

burmese python range map

These invasive snakes are primarily found in the Everglades, which offer a near-perfect habitat free of any natural predators. While Burmese Pythons spend most of their time on land or in trees, they need a permanent water source to survive. They’re good swimmers and can stay submerged in the water for 30 minutes.

 

Burmese Pythons sit and wait for their prey, then strike their target rapidly when it approaches and use their coils to constrict and suffocate it. They feed primarily on mammals, including foxes, rabbits, and raccoons, but they’ll also eat birds, amphibians, and reptiles. In Florida, they’ve even been observed preying on alligators and deer!

 

Efforts are underway to try and rid Florida of this giant predator. You may have seen the annual “Florida Python Challenge,” a competition held to see who can capture the most snakes in a given time period.

 

Here’s what to do if you see a Burmese Python:

 

You should report the animal via the “I’ve Got 1” reporting hotline (888-483-4681), the EDDMapS reporting site, or by using an iPhone application, IveGot1.

 


#25. Eastern Coral Snake

  • Micrurus fulvius

common venomous snakes in alabama

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Generally less than 30 inches in length.
  • Slender body with wide red and black bands separated by narrow yellow stripes.
  • Black head. Look for black specks in the red bands.

 

Sometimes called the Common Coral Snake, Coral Adder, or the American Cobra, this species is a highly venomous snake found in Florida. They primarily feed on frogs, lizards, and other smaller snakes. A potent neurotoxin, their venom causes rapid paralysis and respiratory failure for their prey.

Rarely seen by humans, these snakes spend most of their time underground. Because of this fact, Eastern Coral Snakes rarely bite humans. When they do bite, the venom is seldom deadly when medical treatment is immediately sought.

 

coral snake vs scarlet snake - species of venomous snakes in alabama

Eastern Coral Snakes are sometimes confused with Scarlet Snakes and Scarlet King Snakes, both of which are entirely harmless. To help distinguish these species, you may use the following rhyme, Red next to black, safe from attack; red next to yellow, you’re a dead fellow.

 


#26. Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake

  • Sistrurus miliarius barbouri

dusky pigmy rattlesnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are small and range from 1 to 1.5 feet in length.
  • Thick body, dark bands that run from the corners of the eyes to the jaw, a small rattle prone to breaking, and elliptical pupils.
  • Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnakes are subspecies of the Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)

 

This species is the smallest venomous snake found in Florida!

 

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnakes occupy a wide variety of habitats. Naturally, they can be found in pine forests, dry upland forests, floodplains, sandhills, and near lakes, rivers, and marshes. They are often encountered in urban areas and may be seen in gardens and brush piles.

Pygmy Rattlesnake Range Mappygmy rattlesnake range map

These venomous snakes are rarely seen in Florida because they are so small and well camouflaged. When they are found, they typically remain silent and motionless and rely on blending into their environment.

 

It’s rare to hear them rattle. When they do, it sounds more like a faint insect and can be hard to hear unless you’re within a few feet of one.

 

Due to their small size, a bite typically isn’t fatal to healthy adults and is considered less severe than the bite of most other venomous snakes. But make no mistake, these snakes’ cytotoxic venom can cause pain and necrosis for a few days.

 


#27. Blue-striped Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis sirtalis similis

blue striped garter snake - common garter snakes in Florida

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically between 18-26 inches long.
  • Black or dark brown. The stripe on top is hard to see.
  • As the name suggests, easy to identify blue stripes on the sides.

 

Blue-striped Garter Snakes are ONLY found in a small part of northwest Florida! They are a subspecies of the Common Garter Snake, and it’s not understood yet why these snakes evolved to be blue! Scientists think their lineage dates back to subspecies that are not around anymore.

blue striped garter snake range map

Regardless, they are easily one of the most beautiful snakes in Florida!

 

Their blue sides also make them fairly easy to identify. The only confusing species is the Blue-striped Ribbonsnake, which has a similar range.

 

Look for them along the Gulf coast from eastern Wakulla County in the panhandle south to Hernando County.

 


#28 & #29. Mole Kingsnakes

 

In Florida, there are two different types of Mole Kingsnakes, which are both considered subspecies of the Yellow-bellied Kingsnake.

prairie and northern mole kingsnake

Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

#28. Northern Mole Kingsnake:

  • (Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata)

mole kingsnake

  • Found primarily in the Florida panhandle. If you count, these snakes normally have around 55 small, reddish blotches down their back.
  • Coloration is gray, light brown, or orangish with black-bordered darker brown, gray, or reddish-brown blotches down its body, which fade with age.
  • The head is indistinct from the body, and there is sometimes a dark line through the eye. Adults range from 30 to 40 inches in length.

 

#29. South Florida Mole Kingsnake:

  • (Lampropeltis calligaster occipitolineata)

south florida mole kingsnake

  • Only found in the peninsula north of Lake Okeechobee, outside the Miami area, and west in Charlotte and DeSoto counties. They are not found anywhere except in Florida.
  • They are typically lighter in color and have around 75 black-bordered reddish-brown blotches on their body.
  • The head is indistinct from the body, and there is sometimes a dark line through the eye. Adults range from 30 to 40 inches in length.

 

Mole Kingsnakes prefer open habitats in Florida near forest edges. These snakes are difficult to find since they spend most of their time underground in old animal burrows or under logs and rocks. You’re most likely to spot one crossing the road at night.

 

The nocturnal and secretive nature of these kingsnakes means that they rarely come into contact with people. They’re non-venomous but may shake their tail as a warning which can sound a bit like a rattlesnake when done in dry leaves. They’re generally quite docile but may bite if grabbed.

 


#30. Short-tailed Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis extenuata

short tailed kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically average between 14 and 20 inches in length.
  • Coloration is gray with black blotches or spots and sometimes an indistinct yellow or orange stripe running down the spine between blotches.
  • Slender, often pencil-thin with a dark brown or black head.

 

The Short-tailed Kingsnake is so named because its tail comprises less than 10% of its total length! They’re a fossorial species, which means they’re highly adapted to burrowing and spending time underground.

short tailed king snake range map

These little snakes have specific habitat requirements and only live in sandy, upland parts of Florida. Look for them in pine or oak woodlands, coastal oak hammocks, or sand pine scrub. These snakes are incredibly hard to see and are very secretive.

 

The diet of the Short-tailed Kingsnake is limited as well. They feed almost entirely on small Black-crowned Snakes.

 

Though small, these snakes are known to be defensive when disturbed. They’ll often vibrate their tail, twitch their head, and may even hiss. If grabbed or pinned, they may strike.

 


#31. Saltmarsh Watersnake

  • Nerodia clarkii

saltmarsh watersnake

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range in length from 15 to 36 inches.
  • There are three subspecies of the Salt Marsh Snake, and coloration varies greatly. Individuals can be gray, olive, brown, tan, or rusty orange.
  • They typically have four longitudinal stripes down the body, including two lighter stripes and two darker stripes. But certain individuals lack these stripes and are a solid color.

 

You can find these snakes in Florida in coastal salt marshes, brackish estuaries, and tidal mudflats. As their name suggests, they aren’t typically found near freshwater. To hydrate, they usually rely on their prey for their water intake. However, they may also get freshwater from puddles when available.

Saltmarsh Watersnake Range Map

saltmarsh watersnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

These docile water snakes are declining and at high risk in parts of their range. Habitat degradation with the development of coastal salt marshes has played a significant role in their decline. Unfortunately, they are also often killed because people confuse them with the venomous cottonmouth.

 

Here are the three Saltmarsh Water Snake subspecies that are in Florida:

  • Gulf Saltmarsh Watersnake (N. c. clarkii)
  • Mangrove Saltmarsh Watersnake (N. c. compressicauda)
  • Atlantic Saltmarsh Watersnake (N. c. taeniata)

 


#32. Black Swampsnake

  • Liodytes pygaea

black swampsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Small, thin water snakes that are only 10 – 15 inches in length.
  • Shiny black.
  • Bright orange or red belly with black marks.

 

Black Swampsnakes are the smallest water snakes found in Florida!

 

Unfortunately, they can be hard to find. Not only are they small and black, but they live in wet areas with dense vegetation.

Black Swampsnake Range Map

black swampsnake range map

In addition, they are almost entirely aquatic. These water snakes don’t even come to dry land to give birth. Females deliver 11-13 LIVE babies directly in shallow water!

 

Since they are so small, Black Swampsnakes feed mostly on tiny fish, frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, leeches, and earthworms.

 


#33. Florida Green Watersnake

  • Nerodia floridana

florida greenwater snake range map

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults have a large head and range from 30 to 55 inches in length.
  • Coloration is varied and can be green, brown, gray, or orangish. No distinct markings except maybe some speckling and a yellow or white underside. Juveniles may have darker cross bands which fade with age.
  • Also called Eastern Green Watersnake.

 

Florida Green Watersnakes are the largest water snake native to Florida!

 

They prefer calm, shallow bodies of water, like marshes, lakes, ponds, or canals, that have open canopies and dense vegetation. They’re rarely seen in rivers or streams.

Florida Green Watersnake Range Map

florida green watersnake range map

Florida Green Watersnakes primarily feed on frogs, salamanders, tadpoles, and fish, including sunfish, crappies, and small bass. Like other watersnakes, they quickly grab their prey and swallow it alive.

 

This species is non-venomous, and their first instinct when disturbed is to flee. They’ll quickly move into the water or under some cover. If captured, they release a foul-smelling musk and will bite.

 


#34. Striped Crayfish Snake

  • Liodytes alleni

striped crayfish snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 13 to 20 inches in length.
  • Coloration is a glossy brownish-yellow. Look for three broad dark stripes, one down the center of the back and one down each side.
  • Small head and a yellowish or occasionally reddish underside.
  • Also called Allen’s Snake or Striped Swampsnake.

 

Striped Crayfish Snakes are found in Florida near swamps and open wetlands with heavy plant growth. You can sometimes find them under logs and debris near the water, in crayfish burrows, or spot them on roadways during or after heavy rains. They rarely live in moving water.

Striped Crayfish Snake Range Map

striped crayfish snake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

Striped Crayfish Snakes are nocturnal and feed primarily on crayfish, as their name suggests. Their small, sharp teeth allow them to grab and hold the hard shell of crayfish. These water snakes don’t constrict prey, but they use the coils of their body to help secure them while they swallow them alive. They typically consume crayfish tail first.

 

If captured, these water snakes release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tail and may thrash about vigorously. They rarely bite but may gape their mouth and swing their head and neck from side to side. Occasionally, they will feign death by going rigid and opening their mouth.

 


Do you need additional help identifying snakes in Florida?

 

Try this field guide!

 


Which of these SNAKES have you seen before in Florida?

 

Leave a comment below!

 

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