Central Florida's Venomous Snakes
All images copyright 2002 by the photographers - all rights reserved - please ask before using them.

Eastern diamondback, Crotalus adamanteus.  Copyright Tanith Tyrr
Eastern diamondback
Crotalus adamanteus

Quick reference:
Heavy head, rattle, diamond markings
Strike body length, more if over 85F
Use tongs or sweep into container.
Bite is serious. Wyeth antivenom.
Rare and valuable for venom work
Call a snake expert to remove.
Harmless snakes can rattle their tails.


Eastern coral snake, Micrurus fulvius fulvius.  Copyright Tanith Tyrr
Coral snake:
Micrurus fulvius fulvius

Quick reference:
Red touch yellow, kill a fellow
Nose is black, head is yellow.
Two look-alikes have red noses. Compare.
Burrowing snake found under leaf cover.
Physically weak, small mouth, doesn’t strike
Very few recorded bites to humans or pets
Heavy gloves or scoop sufficient for handling.

Florida cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti.  Copyright Tanith Tyrr
Agkistrodon piscivorus

Quick reference:
Water snakes are close look alikes.
More look alikes (1) (2)
(3) (4) (5)
Babies brighter colored than adults.
Banded, greenish brown, tan or black
Distinctive facial "mask"
Serious but not fatal bite. CroFab AV
Sweep into bin or handle with tongs.

Pygmy rattlesnake (or pigmy rattlesnake), or ground rattler.  Sistrurus miliarius barbouri.  Copyright Tanith Tyrr
Pygmy rattlesnake:

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri

Quick reference:
Babies can coil on a quarter, yellow tail tips
Grey with black blotches, faint red stripe
Rattle hard to spot, sounds like buzzing bee.
Bite does not usually require antivenom.
Small ones best handled with plastic scoop
Sweep larger snakes into bucket or bin.


Remember for your safety:
Most bites happen because the human attacked the snake. Don't attack snakes.
Moving or containing a snake with tools is safer than trying to kill or handle it.
Do not hurt the snake. A hurt snake is much more dangerous than an uninjured one.
If you don't cause the snake pain, the snake won't cause you pain. Move snakes gently.
A snake that is not scared or hurt is very easy to move with a broom.
You can scare a snake away from a distance using water from the garden hose.
Scared snakes usually leave and never come back. Let them go.

Housing Snakes
In Florida (and most other states), there are strict laws regarding the housing of venomous snakes and other reptiles. Because of the prime climate for many non-native snakes in Florida, there are also laws regarding non-venomous snakes as well so if you are considering getting a pet snake be sure to read up on the local and state regulations. If you're new to pet snakes, it may be a good idea to find an experienced handler to tour your house as a home advisor. A home advisor will help you find the best location for a cage and will also point out any potential escape routes. As part of the requirements to receive a license to house venomous snakes, a state licensed home advisor will come out and review the premises so if that is your ultimate goal having an experienced snake owner do an inspection can be a big help. Always check with the local Wildlife agency, reptile veterinarians or area zoos about the specific laws concerning reptile housing for your area. Not only are there state laws, but often local governments have set their own regulations as well.

Click here for an interactive online guide to the Snakes of Florida.
Is one of these snakes in your backyard? Click here to find out what to do.
Take the Florida Snake Quiz to test your snake recognition skills.
Where do I get professional tools for safer snake handling?

Back to the Snake Getters main page