Help! I found a snake!

Scary picture, eh?  Looks like a cottonmouth ( sometimes called water moccasin)?  Maybe so, but it is actually a harmless banded water snake.  We do have a lot of snakes in Florida for sure. Our first instinct is to assume that when we see a snake, that it is probably venomous.  Actually, a very low percentage of the snake population in Florida are venomous.  Many of the harmless species, many of which prey on the venomous snakes  are killed needlessly because of mis-identification.

All snakes are defensive, scared of humans, will run from you if given the chance.  Most snakes are very beneficial to have around; their primary food source are rats and mice. If you see a snake in your yard, and are uncomfortable with them, spray them with a garden hose they will take off immediately and you probably won’t see them for a very long time.   The are not as dangerous as we are led to believe…  Bees, cows , mosquitoes and dogs are much more dangerous .  See the graphic below, snakes almost come in last place as the most dangerous animals n Florida.

Many “home remedies”  such as putting mothballs out is not only only illegal but ineffective.  Snake-B-Gone and other questionable commercial remedies may poison the snakes but will poison their natural predators as well.  The Wildlife Center of Venice routinely brings in a lot of sick animals such as owls, hawks, bobcats who have eaten poison from bait traps or ineffective snake baits.  Below is a guide to to help you properly identify the more common snakes in Florida as well as the venomous snakes in Florida, from their look alike species which are very beneficial to have around.

Cottonmouth or banded water snake:

Coral snake vs. scarlet snake/scarlet king snake: