Venomous snakes (poisonous snakes)



Canebrake or Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus):  This species has coloration enabling it to blend in exceedingly well among a background of shadows and leaves.  This large rattlesnake (to 5.5 feet, most adults about 4 feet) is locally common and inhabits oak-pine woods, shaded forest, floodplains, and the edges of swamps.  Rattlesnakes feed by coiling on the ground near a burrow, along a log, at the base of a tree, or in a grassy area.  They rest like this, in ambush for up to a week, at sites where they detect odors of their prey (mice, rats, squirrels, and rabbits).  Piles of trash, debris, old boards, or roofing tin often harbor snakes, including rattlesnakes.







Southern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix):  This species has coloration enabling it to blend in exceedingly well among a background of leaf litter. Copperheads (to 3.5 feet, but usually only 1.5-2 feet long) are fairly common but seldom seen.  They occur in shaded forests, near large swamps, and in weedy, overgrown areas.  During summer they are active at night, and sometimes seen crossing roads not long after dusk.  The young have sulfur-yellow tail tips and can indeed deliver a venomous bite.  Prey includes insects, frogs, small snakes, shrews, and mice.





Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius):  The smallest of the rattlesnake species, most pigmy rattlesnakes are 1-1.75 feet.  Often called ground rattler, this snake is common in grassy, frequently-burned pine flatwoods.  But it's well-camouflaged and not often found.  Rattle is small and produces a cricket-like, barely audible sound.  Eats shrews, frogs, and small snakes.  Young born alive in late summer are so small they can easily coil atop a half-dollar.



Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus):  A large rattlesnake (to 6.5 feet, but most adults are 4-5 feet) that is identified by the distinctive pattern of "diamonds" that extend down the length of the snake.  Preferred habitat is longleaf pine sandhills and flatwoods.  Near the coast, diamondbacks inhabit oak-palmetto hammocks and open, grassy areas near salt marshes.  Occupies gopher tortoise burrows, armadillo burrows, and stumpholes during the winter.  Adults eat cotton rats and eastern cottontail rabbits.  Thought to be declining in some parts of its range due to loss of native, fire-maintained habitats and human persecution.





Eastern Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius):  A shiny, "candystick" snake (to ca. 36 inches in length, most are about 2 feet long) with alternating red, yellow, and black rings that encircle the body.  The coral snake has a black snout; the red and yellow rings touch.  In the similar, non-poisonous scarlet kingsnake the red rings contact the black rings.  Thus, a helpful rhyme is: "red touch yellow, harm a fellow, red touch black friend of Jack".  Coral snakes are uncommon and seldom seen, spending most of their lives underground or hidden among debris.  They have a specialized diet, feeding mostly on small snakes, glass lizards, and skinks.





Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus):  A fairly large (to 4 feet), stout-bodied, brown, olive, yellow, or blackish snake that frequents a variety of aquatic habitats including muddy swamps, cypress ponds, and grassy marshes.  Cottonmouths eat a variety of animals including fish, frogs, snakes, and rats and are not big predators of game fish.  When threatened cottonmouths may "stand their ground", coiling and gaping their jaws - exposing the cottony-white lining of their mouth for which they are named.