A-Fl Species in Florida—Copperhead, Coral Snake, and Cottonmouth Snake

Brahminy Blind Snake—a.k.a. Flower Pot Snake

The size of adult species is anywhere from three to seven inches (7-20 cm). It's a very thin snake that is shiny in its coloration—a color that the juvenile blind snakes are born with and keep throughout adulthood. The snake has been introduced from Asia and is not endemic to Florida.

Because it has become common in many countries and is suspected to have been transported to Florida in the soil of imported shrubs and plants, it is sometimes called the flower pot snake.

It is found throughout the Southern part of Florida, mainly in urban areas and in land used for agriculture.

It reproduces unisexually; meaning there are no male blind snakes. This is called parthenogenesis. It's a harmless snake, feeding on larvae and eggs, insects, or anything it can get close to.

Brown Snakes

The name should rather be the Florida brown snake, as the brown snakes in Florida probably are a subspecies of the "brown snakes."

Three subspecies of the brown snake are found in Florida. They are all found throughout Florida, including the Keys. They are brown in color yet can sometimes take on a reddish hue. They are usually found under debris or leaves and are not dangerous at all.

They seldom reach a size of more than 12 inches (30 cm). They feed on invertebrates, such as earthworms and slugs, small amphibians, and the like. They are very active during the day and inactive during the night.

The brown snake

Brown Water Snake

The normal size of a brown water snake is 25-60 inches, and it can be found all over Florida. Adults are light brown with darker blotches on them.

It is commonly found near streams, small ponds, or anywhere close to water. Even though it's a water snake, it's a good climber preferring trees near water. Occasionally it will try to escape by throwing itself off the limb and into water—which is a quite exciting thing to observe.

One fish, the perch, is a favorite freshwater prey item for the brown water snake. And in general, the larger the snake the more of its diet is perch.

It gives live birth to snakes that are 7-11 inches in length. Eggs hatch inside the female, so it's only a semi-live birth. It can be confused with the venomous cottonmouth. Unfortunately, some brown water snakes are killed just on this suspicion.

A brown water snake

Copperhead Snakes

The copperhead snake has many names in different areas. The best known aliases are: the highland moccasin, chunkhead, and Southern copperhead snake.

Copperhead snakes are medium-sized snakes. Normal length is around 30 inches (75 cm). They have alternating bands ranging in color from gray to red-brownish. Some of the dark bands have spots in them. Copperheads in Florida and other states that they inhabit have quite a deep pit between the nostrils and their eyes. This is also true of the cottonmouth and the rattlesnake.

Where to Find Them in Florida

In Florida, the copperhead can only be found in the northwestern part of the state, in the so called Panhandle. Copperheads prefer swamps or any area close to water, such as places near the Apalachicola River. They are not uncommon, and they quite often migrate to suburban areas in search of food and shelter.

Bites From Copperheads

If you are allergic to all sort of bites or stings, or if your health is poor or you are very young, a bite from a copperhead snake can be life threatening. Like with any other snake, one must seek immediate medical care if an encounter with a snake became a little too tense. Copperhead snakes are dangerous, so don't try handling one yourself unless you have hands-on experience with snakes.

Copperhead snakes are dangerous and venomous so don't try handling one yourself unless you have hands on experience with snakes.

Don’t try to be "macho" if a copperhead snake bites you. The bite will give you pain no matter what. You may also be susceptible to an infection in the place the snake bit you.

A Trick With Their Tail

The snake uses its tail to trick potential prey into thinking that they can approach it. They can't. With lightning speed, the copperhead can deliver a deadly strike, killing any little rodent or any other small animal that comes its way.

A copperhead snake on its way. The copper color is very visible on this photo.

Coral Snakes

Even small concentrations of venom from this snake can kill large animals. When it bites and injects its venom, a much larger dose than necessary is used to kill the prey. The purpose is of course to subdue the prey faster and reduce the risk of damages to itself.

Coral snakes are one of the six different species of venomous snakes in Florida.

Coral Snake Rhymes

A red, yellow, and black colored banding separates the coral snakes from other snakes. The scarlet kingsnake has the same colors as coral snakes, but they can be distinguished by thinking of rhymes such as “Red on yellow, kills a fellow” or “Red touching black, is a friend of Jack.” There are plenty of these rhymes to be found on the Internet. Florida has it coral snakes as well. The average size of adult coral snakes is 25-35 inches (60-90 cm). They are smaller than coral snakes seen in Brazil and Bolivia.

The patterns are easily seen. You should, however, avoid this snake by all means, simply because it's bad company.

Bitten by a Coral Snake—Prey and Humans

Coral snakes hold on to a prey after they inflict the victim with their bite. This behavior is very natural, because in order to deliver their venom, they need to have their fangs in the prey. If bitten by a coral snake, one most go for medical care right away. People get bitten by this snake from time to time when they are gardening, etc.

Elderly people or young children are more susceptible to suffering heavily from a coral snake than middle aged adult individuals. This only holds true if the victim is treated with antivenin; otherwise the chance of not surviving is roughly 10 percent. Coral snakes eat their prey after it has suffocated from the paralysis caused by the venom.

A picture illustrating the coral snake rhyme

The Habit of Eating Other Snakes

Coral snakes like to feed on other snakes. There's a special name for this, and it is called ophiophagous. They will, however, also feed on other reptiles, such as lizards and small rodents. Aquatic coral snakes also eat fish and eels.

Corn Snake

The corn snake can be found throughout Florida and in many types of habitats, such as agricultural fields and residential areas. Its status as a killer of rodents in corn depots made this snake popular among farmers.

Today it is also a popular pet. The longest individuals can reach a length of 75 inches (almost 2 meters), but the normal size is from 20 to 45 inches. It's primarily active during the night. The corn snake is a good climber and can be found in trees, but most often it is found under logs and rocks. It feeds on lizards, frogs, rodents, and birds and their eggs. It lays from 2-40 eggs and breeds from mid-April to June. Newborns hatch six to ten weeks after the eggs have been laid.

Close-up of a corn snake

Cottonmouth Snakes

It's not unusual that the cottonmouth snake stands its ground against intruders, exposing its mouth in a threatening way as if it's ready to bite. When it stands its ground, it's usually because it can't escape.

Appearance

The cottonmouth snake is larger than its close relative, the copperhead snake. The water moccasin can reach a size of almost 75 inches (2m), but the average size is just about 30-40 inches. Its head is thicker than its neck, and because some large plate-like scales cover the eyes, the eyes can hardly be seen when viewed from above.

Habitat

It's found throughout Florida, but if you are in the northern part of Florida, you might take it for a copperhead snake. It can be found anywhere near water—and as a general rule of thumb, you won't find them far from water unless they are moving from one place to another.

A lot of people in Florida are afraid of the cottonmouth snake—which is partly unjustified. Water snakes that are found in the same type of habitats are destroyed on the suspicion of being cottonmouths.

A cottonmouth snake eating an anole

Eastern Indigo Snake—a.k.a. The Gopher Snake

The indigo snake lives throughout Florida but is very rare. They can be found in hardwood forests, flatwoods, and prairies. They are quite large; adults normally reach a length of 60-84 inches or anything from 1.5 to almost 3 meters. They are the longest North American snake, having been recorded at over 8 1/2 feet. The indigo population is declining, and it is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They are large and people get scared when they see them. Just leave them alone.

A colorful Eastern Indigo or Gopher snake

Eastern Coachwhip Snake

The Eastern coachwhip is one of the largest snakes found in Florida. It reaches a length of up to just above 100 inches in rare cases. The average size of an Eastern coachwhip snake is only 50-75 inches. Eastern coachwhips are slender snakes with a tan body and black head.

It is completely harmless to humans and can be found in pine woods or in scrubs along sand beaches. It does have a whip like tail, but it is not used to attack humans. It is a very fast moving snake that may show aggressive behavior. Don't misunderstand this snake—it won't attack unless there's no escape. If it attacks, the harm it can inflict is not serious to adults.

It lays up to 15 eggs in the late summer.

Eastern Coachwhip Snake

Eastern Hognose Snake—a.k.a. Puff Adder, Hissing Adder, Spreading Adder, and Hissing Sand Snake

It is found throughout Florida, except for the Keys. The average size of an adult specimen is around 25 inches (65 cm). Large specimens can reach a length of almost 50 inches.

It is a compact snake that varies in color depending on the specimen, with certain snakes being yellow while others appear to be brown.

It can be found in scrubs near sandy areas and in woodlands and cultivated fields, as well as an assortment of other places. To defend itself, it makes a loud hissing sound when threatened or walked upon. Don't handle it because it is harmless—they don't like it at all. It's a common belief that some of the adders in Florida are venomous. It's simply not true.

Eggs are deposited in protected holes or beneath debris. Eggs hatch after six to nine weeks and hatchlings are six to nine inches in length.

An Eastern Hognose Snake

References

Copperhead snake
Coral Snake - Emedicine
Coral Snakes in Florida


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