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9 Brown Snakes in Florida

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  • More than 46 species of native snakes are found in Florida, and they come in a variety of sizes and colors, including easily camouflaged browns.
  • Some of the state's nonvenomous brown snakes include the southeastern crown snake, Florida pine snake, eastern horsewhip snake, brown water snake, and Florida brown snake.
  • Venomous brown snakes in Florida include the timber rattlesnake, eastern diamondback, eastern copperhead, and Florida cottonmouth.

Covering more than 65,000 square miles, Florida is home to many amazing animals and a vast array of habitats. Despite the hot and humid weather most of the year, it has a rich and diverse ecosystem. One of the animals that thrives in Florida is the snake, with about 46 native species. Snakes come in just about every color and size imaginable – from brightly colored coral snakes to snakes that blend so well that you can barely see them. In fact, some of the best camouflaged snakes are brown snakes, which can blend into soil and leaf litter. So, join us as we spot nine Florida brown snakes!

1. Southeast crested snake

Southeast crested snake
The southeastern crested snake is not aggressive towards humans.

© John Sullivan/Creative Commons – Licensed

The southeastern crested snake is endemic to the southeastern United States. They are small snakes, usually only 8 to 10 inches long. The southeastern crested snake is usually light brown or grayish brown with a black head. Their heads are pointed and there is also a buff or cream band between the head and neck.

The southeastern crested snake prefers sandy or loose soil habitats and is often found under logs and rocks in woodlands. They produce a very mild venom that they use to subdue prey such as worms and spiders. The venom is delivered through small fangs in the back of the upper jaw. Despite this, they are not aggressive and are not considered dangerous to humans. Their natural enemies include king snakes and coral snakes.

2. Florida Pine Snake

florida pine snake
The Florida pine snake, while not venomous, will strangle its prey.

© iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

The Florida pine snake, also known as the pine snake, is a large, powerful snake that can reach a length of 90 inches. They are usually light brown with black, brown or reddish-brown markings. They are native to several southeastern states, including Florida, and live in a range of habitats. Florida pine snakes live in woodlands, grasslands, rocky deserts, and scrub at elevations up to 9,000 feet. Areas with sandy soils are preferred as they often spawn in burrows or under rocks. Pine snakes are non-venomous, and their diet includes mice, moles, and voles. In this case, they often go into the burrow in search of food and kill several rodents at a time.

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3. Oriental Horsewhip

coach whip snake
Eastern horsewhips are slender snakes that look similar to braided horsewhips, hence the name.

© Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com

Although there are six subspecies of the whip snake, only the eastern one can be classified as the Florida brown snake. As their name suggests, they are slender snakes with slender bodies that can reach a length of 72 inches. Juveniles are usually brown or tan, while adults have a dark brown or black head, neck, and body fading to light tan.

Eastern horsewhips live in a variety of habitats, but pine woodlands, swamps, and swamps are more popular. They prey on small birds, lizards and rodents. They usually swallow their prey whole, but sometimes subdue them by knocking them to the ground first. Despite myths that they attack people and whip them with their tails, eastern coachwhip usually flee quickly when disturbed.

4. Brown Water Snake

brown water snake
Brown water snakes have dark brown patches on their backs that are larger than those on their sides.

©iStock.com/csraphotography

The brown water snake is one of the most common water snake species in the southeastern United States, including all of Florida. They mainly live in moving water such as rivers, streams and canals, and feed on fish, especially juvenile catfish. However, they also sometimes live in swamps and brackish marshes. Brown water snakes typically range in length from 30 to 60 inches, although there is a recorded length of 69 inches. They are brown with usually about 25 dark brown or black stripes on their back. The brown water snake has a heavy body with a neck much narrower than the head. Although they are a non-venomous species, brown water snakes can be extremely aggressive when threatened and can inflict painful bites.

5. Florida brown snake

Florida Brown Snake Florida BrownSnake
The Florida brown snake is endemic to Florida and Georgia.

© Sreejithk2000/Creative Commons – Licensed

Despite their name, Florida brown snakes are endemic to Florida and Georgia, where they live in different habitats. However, they are fairly stealthy snakes, preferring to hide under logs, rocks and leaves. Florida brown snakes are small snakes, only 9 to 13 inches long, with a slender body. They are predominantly brown, but have a light stripe down the center of the back with small black spots on the sides. Florida brown snakes are non-venomous and feed on earthworms, slugs, and insects.

6. Timber Rattlesnake

Closeup of the eye of a timber rattlesnake
Timber rattlesnakes have black, green and brown scale patterns.

©Scott Delony/Shutterstock.com

The timber rattlesnake, one of many Florida brown snakes, is a large rattlesnake endemic to eastern North America. They are between 36 and 60 inches long and have heavy, thick bodies. Timber rattlesnakes are usually pale yellow or grayish brown with dark brown or black horizontal stripes. Their tails are black with a rattle at the end and are usually held high above the ground. Timber rattlesnakes prefer wet fields and swamps, but are occasionally found in urban areas. They feed on small mammals, lizards, birds, and even other snakes. Although they are highly venomous, they are not particularly aggressive and will usually attempt to flee, only attacking as a last resort when threatened.

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7. Eastern Rattlesnake Rattlesnake

Large Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
The eastern diamondback's pattern usually fades towards the tail.

©Chase D'animulls/Shutterstock.com

Another venomous rattlesnake is the eastern diamondback, which is the largest species of rattlesnake in the world. The eastern diamondback is a large, heavy snake, usually measuring between 33 and 72 inches, although 99 inches has also been recorded. These snakes have brown bodies covered with large diamonds, hence the name. Diamond markers have a dark brown center with a cream colored border. The diamonds turn into dark stripes on the tail, which rattles and usually hangs in the air. The eastern diamondback moth lives in pine woodland and scrubland and on coastal barrier islands. Although they are venomous and can strike up to 4 feet, they are generally not aggressive snakes. Their main diet is rabbits, rodents and birds, and they usually ambush their prey.

8. Eastern Copperhead

Eastern Copperhead
Although venomous, eastern copperheads deliver a "warning bite" first and use little to no venom.

©Jeff W. Jarrett/Shutterstock.com

Another species of Florida brown snake is the eastern copperhead, found only on the western end of the Panhandle and along the Apalachicola River. The eastern copperhead is 22 to 36 inches long and lives in deciduous forests and forests bordering swampy, wet areas. Rocks and piles of logs and leaves are usually the preferred shelters. Eastern copperheads are light tan in color, covered with light brown or sometimes gray crossbands. The cross-band pattern on the back usually gives them their distinctive hourglass shape, while the markings on their sides usually have a light center. Eastern copperheads tend to freeze rather than flee when disturbed, which is why they are often stepped on. Although they are venomous, their venom is the weakest of all rattlesnakes. They also tend to do a "warning bite" first, which injects little to no venom.

9. Cottonmouth, Florida

buckskin snake
Cottonmouths are common throughout Florida.

© Christian Bale/Shutterstock.com

The Florida Cottonjack has a wide distribution and is found in every county in Florida and on many of the nearby islands. They live near every wetland habitat, including rivers, lakes, ponds and swamps. However, they are not completely dependent on water and can sometimes be up to a mile away from it. Florida cottonmouths are 30 to 48 inches long and have a heavy body with a mix of light and dark brown crossbands and several black spots. They are venomous snakes, but only attack as a last resort. When threatened, they tend to open their mouths to reveal their white interior, earning them the nickname "cotton mouths." Florida cottonmouths are opportunistic feeders, eating a wide range of insects, fish, frogs, lizards, birds, and other snakes (even other cottonmouths).

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red snake found in florida

corn snake
Corn snakes are beautiful examples of red snakes found in Florida.

© Kurit afshen/Shutterstock.com

As we mentioned, Florida is home to a wide variety of snakes in colors that are not commonly found in the United States. One such bright color is red, which in the natural (and man-made) world is often a sign to stay away. Sometimes red helps the animal camouflage, while other times it helps the male or female attract a mate. Snakes can be solid red or a red variant.

The red-bellied snake is one of the smallest red species in the state, measuring only 8 to 10 inches long. Its belly is usually bright red, but there are also orange or yellow variants, and it is usually red to reddish brown with a light stripe on its back. Black swamp snakes are small snakes, 10-15 inches long, with a black body and red belly.

Another red snake is the mud snake, which has bright red stripes from the abdomen to the sides of the body and the end of the tail. It is one of the longest snakes in Florida, reaching 40-54 inches long.

One venomous red snake found in the Sunshine State is the eastern coral snake, which is often confused with the scarlet kingsnake subspecies found in Florida due to some resemblance to its red, black, and yellow banded markings.

Popular as pets, corn snakes have red spots on top of their orange or brown bodies and several black stripes on the underside of their tails. Find out more about Florida's red snakes here.

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Copperheads have keel-like scales and their eyes have vertical pupils that give them a cat-like appearance.
Copperheads have keel-like scales and their eyes have vertical pupils that give them a cat-like appearance.

© Creeping Stuff/Shutterstock.com


about the author


For many years, I have been writing professionally, with an emphasis on animals and wildlife. I love spending time outdoors, and when I'm not writing I'll be found on a farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep and pigs.

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