Much of Northeast Florida is an aquatic ecosystem -- the St. Johns River and Mill Cover -- or a forested area -- the Osceola National Forest. These regions are suitable habitats for venomous and non-venomous snakes. Due to their cold-blooded nature, snakes require the warm climates Florida provides throughout the year. Snakes are ecologically important since they help maintain the rodent and lizard populations.
The eastern diamondback rattlesnake, or Crotalus adamanteus, is found in nearly every region of Florida, including Northeast Florida. This venomous snake lives in pine forests and wetland areas, but usually not swamps or marshes. Some eastern diamondback rattlesnakes grow up to 8 feet in length. The snake's rattle, located on its tail, serves as a defense mechanism against predators.
Also known as Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, the venomous dusky pigmy rattlesnake is one of the smallest rattlesnake species; adults only grow between 20 and 30 inches. These snakes are also "pit vipers" due to the pit between their eyes and nostril. Also, dusky pigmy rattlesnakes do not shake their rattle when they are in defense mode.
The corn snake, or Pantherophis guttatus, is a reddish-yellow snake found in Northeast Florida. This snake kills its victims by constriction and does not possess any venom. Adult corn snakes prey on rats, birds and bats, while young snakes eat small lizards and frogs. These snakes do not eat every day. When mature, they grow to 6 feet in length.
Pantherophis alleghaniensis, or the eastern rat snake, is also found in Northeast Florida. The main sighting locations are pine forests east of the Apalachicola River. Most eastern rat snakes grow from 3 to 6 feet in length. This snake has orange scales and is non-venomous. Its diet consists of rats, lizards and chickens.
The green water snake, or Nerodia floridana, has greenish scales with brown spots. This snake is found in rivers and lakes in Northeast Florida, including the St. Johns River and Mill Cove. According to the University of Georgia, this snake grows from 4 to 5 feet long. Its primary diet consists of minnows and small fish. Green water snakes usually hunt for prey at night.
Found in the Fun Coast region of Florida -- near Ormond Beach and Daytona -- the Atlantic salt marsh snake, or Nerodia clarkii taeniata, is a small water snake found in marshes and mangrove forests. Most species are found in South Florida. Adult snakes in this species are less than 3 feet. Atlantic salt marsh snakes have grayish scales with brown stripes.
Southern copperheads, or Agkistrodon contotrix, occur throughout the northern region of Florida. This venomous snake has reddish-brown scales. Southern copperheads are active in the spring and fall; during the summer and winter, these animals hibernate in extreme temperatures. Primary habitats are forests, riparian areas and freshwater lakes.
The Florida cottonmouth, or Agkistrodon piscivorus, is found in lakes and forests in Northeast Florida. Cottonmouths in Northeast Florida have two vertical markings on the tip of their noses and stripes on their cheeks. Florida cottonmouths possess olive green and dark brown scales. When fully mature, these venomous snakes are approximately 3 to 6 feet long.
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology -- Animal Diversity Web: Crotalus Adamanteus
- Wild Florida Ecotravel Guide: Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake
- Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Corn Snake
- Florida Museum of Natural History: Eastern Rat Snake
- University of Georgia: Green Water Snake
- Federal Wildlife Service: Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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