Watch Out for Snakes!
The discovery of a 10-foot snake skin in Maine has local residents panicked and curious, but in Florida, snakes are a common sight. We are used to seeing them in our ponds and creeks, and sometimes even encounter them in our pools or neighborhoods. Plenty of snakes, like the black racer, are perfectly harmless, but it is still a good idea to not let your guard down when outside or near a body of water, since Florida is still home to a handful of dangerous snakes.
Are All Snakes Dangerous?
Florida is home to around 50 types of snakes, and around 44 are them are harmless to humans. There are only six types of snakes in Florida that are considered dangerous to humans: the Southern Copperhead/Highland Moccasin, the Water Moccasin, the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Timber Rattlesnake, the Pigmy Rattler/Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake, and the Eastern Coral Snake. Of this bunch, Coral Snakes are likely the most recognizable, due to the well-known rhyme— “if red touches yellow, it can kill a fellow.” The Florida Museum of Natural History offers a handy guide to the identification of venomous snakes, including their color, size, and common habitat.
Even from dangerous snakes like Water Moccasins or Coral Snakes, a bite isn’t necessarily fatal. Still, a snake bite can lead to a loss of limb or other serious injury. Any venomous snake bite should immediately receive medical attention. Due to the health consequences, it is very important to avoid snakes if possible. If you see a snake in the wild, do not approach it, because it can be difficult to identity if a snake is venomous or not. If a snake gets into your house, do not try to grab or trap it. Instead, call your county’s animal control agency.
Avoid Snake Bites
If you or someone you are with is bitten by a snake, try to remember the colors of the snake, especially if you think it may be venomous. Signs of a snake bite can include:
- A pair of puncture marks at the wound
- Redness and swelling around the bitten area
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased sweating
- Numbness or tingling of the face and limbs
If someone has been bitten by a snake, help them to remain calm. This will slow down the spread of the venom. Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing, if available. Call 911 right away. As with many other health issues or accidents, seeking immediate medical help can prevent a serious injury or death.
However, since so many of Florida’s snakes are harmless, you should not kill all snakes that you see. If you see a snake, the best thing to do is just walk away. This will prevent injury, and ensure that Florida’s harmless wildlife stays plentiful.
Snakes can be terrifying or fascinating, or a little bit of both. To prevent injury, stay away from any snakes you encounter in the wild, and to brush up on identification and snake bite treatment tips.