Florida has a lot of snakes. There are about 50 species of snakes in Florida but only 6 are venomous and pose a danger to humans. The other 44 species are harmless and have a beneficial role in nature.
The six venomous snake species in Florida are:
- The southern copper head,
- The Florida cottonmouth
- The diamondback rattlesnake
- The timber / canebrake rattlesnake,
- The dusky pygmy rattler
- The eastern coral snake.
There are many non-venomous snakes in Florida. They include the garter or garden snake, rat/corn snakes, and southern black racers to name a few. Most snakes people encounter are non-venomous. They may produce toxins which affect prey but do not harm humans. Regardless, any bite from wildlife should be considered dangerous and seen by a medical professional, especially snake bites.
One big misconception about “poisonous” snakes is that they are not actually poisonous. They are venomous, meaning they produce their own poison inside their bodies. This confusion is about nomenclature and arises because technically “poisonous” animals make poison and toxic substances from their own environment are considered poisonous.
Different types of venom attack the body differently. Hematoxins, mostly found in Viperids, affect the blood, and destroy tissue, which is very painful. As red blood cells are destroyed, blood clotting is disrupted and tissue is damaged. Permanent damage and loss of an affected limb can happen even with swift treatment. Neurotoxins, mostly found in Elapids, affect neurotransmitters and is mostly neurological. Made up of mostly proteins, this type of venom has pharmaceutical properties as well. An example used in pharma would be stopping the blood flow to a tumor, and thus, preventing its growth.
Most common snakes in Volusia and Flagler Counties, Florida
As a Daytona Beach-area exterminator, we get to see a lot of snakes in the greater Daytona Beach/Port Orange, Ormond Beach, Debary, Edgewater, Palm Coast, and Titusville areas of Florida’s Atlantic Coast. We have a good feel for what’s most common in these parts of Florida. The southern black racer is often seen in yards, garages, sheds and homes. Juvenile black racers are gray or brownish in color and with dark spots running along their backs. Adults are shiny black with a white chin. They are considered endangered and eat a healthy diet of frogs, rodents, lizards and other snakes. They are more active during the day time, and are not afraid of humans. Although non-venomous, they can be very aggressive if handled, and if picked up, they can defecate a foul-smelling musk – yuck!
Scarlet king snakes are another snake often seen in the yards of suburban homes. They look similar to the highly venomous coral snake, but are in fact harmless. The school yard rhyme “red touches black, you’re ok Jack” / “red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow” helps distinguish between the two.
Overall, we see lots of snakes in the broader Port Orange/Daytona Beach area. It’s understandable that people fear a snake is dangerous. Even though it probably isn’t, it’s still smart to contact and exterminator. Moreover, even if a snake isn’t venomous, it still doesn’t mean homeowners need to tolerate them.