Snake Encounters

Our National Forests provide habitat for many wild animals, including snakes. No matter whether they are venomous or not, snakes can be upset by human presence. Even non-venomous species can unexpectedly become aggressive and strike. Do not give snakes a reason or an opportunity to attack. Always keep your distance. Your safety is your responsibility.

Venomous Snakes of Florida

  Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin
Eastern Diamondback Rattler Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  Timber Rattlesnake
  Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake
  Coral Snake

Learn more from the Florida Museum of Natural History Online Guide to Venomous Snakes

Common Non-venomous Snakes

  Banded Water Snake
  Black Racer
  Common Kingsnake
  Eastern Hognose Snake
  Eastern Rat Snake
  Florida Pine Snake

Learn more from the Florida Museum of Natural History

How To Avoid Snakebites

Before venturing out into the wilderness, familiarize yourself with the snakes of Florida, both venomous and non-venomous species.

  • Learn which habitats the venomous species in your region are likely to be encountered in, and use caution when in those habitats.
  • Always take a buddy into the field with you.
  • Wear boots and loose-fitting pants if you are venturing into venomous snake territory.
  • Try as much as possible not to take a snake by surprise. Stay on trails, and watch where you place your hands and feet, especially when climbing or stepping over fences, large rocks, and logs, or when collecting firewood.
  • Never reach under or sit on top of logs without looking first. These areas are usually a snake’s favorite spots to lie.
  • Be careful walking in tall grass where you cannot see your feet, because snakes like to lie in the hot grass in the sun and wait for prey.

Leave snakes alone--do not attempt to capture or kill them. Snakes are rarely interested in harming humans, and they serve a purpose in the forest ecosystem. Observe them from a safe distance and appreciate the beauty of a natural predator in the wild.

How To Treat Snakebites

Venomous snakebites are rare, and they are rarely fatal to humans. Of the 8,000 snakebite victims in the United States each year, only about 10 to 15 die. However, for any snakebite the best course of action is to get medical care as soon as possible.

  • Try to keep the snakebite victim still, as movement helps the venom spread through the body.
  • Keep the injured body part motionless and just below heart level.
  • Keep the victim warm, calm, and at rest, and transport him or her immediately to medical care. Do not allow him to eat or drink anything.
  • If medical care is more than half an hour away, wrap a bandage a few inches above the bite, keeping it loose enough to enable blood flow (you should be able to fit a finger beneath it). Do not cut off blood flow with a tight tourniquet. Leave the bandage in place until reaching medical care.
  • If you have a snakebite kit, wash the bite, and place the kit's suction device over the bite. (Do not suck the poison out with your mouth.) Do not remove the suction device until you reach a medical facility.
  • Try to identify the snake so the proper antivenin can be administered, but do not waste time or endanger yourself trying to capture or kill it.
  • If you are alone and on foot, start walking slowly toward help, exerting the injured area as little as possible. If you run or if the bite has delivered a large amount of venom, you may collapse, but a snakebite seldom results in death.

For more information on snakebites and their treatment see the following, on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration website For Goodness Snakes!