If you are a loyal reader of this paper then there is no doubt you saw the 18-foot, reticulated python that was euthanized here in Seminole County recently. Try explaining to a toddler what that was and why she doesn’t need to worry about seeing another one. Just knowing that prehistoric creature was out there has made me more nervous when I’m out checking fields now. In reality, there’s a slim-to-none chance of seeing something like that here again, hopefully. However, there are serious venomous snakes folks should be watching out for.
Back home in Kentucky it always seemed like when we went to a creek to play or fish that we would always have to be on the lookout for copperheads. These snakes are found all across the south and tend to stay near a water source. Lakes, ponds, marshes and areas like these are great habitat for this snake. They are tan with copper markings and can swim if necessary. They can grow to up to three feet long and are fairly fast predators.
Cottonmouths, or water moccasins, are also a fairly common snake found around Seminole County. Young juvenile cottonmouths can resemble copperheads at a glance. They are tan with red bands around their bodies. As they grow their hide starts to become darker and darker, with adults being almost completely black. These snakes tend to be a lot bigger around and longer than copperheads, growing upwards of 6 feet long. These snakes love cypress swamps, rivers and heavily vegetated wet lands. We have a small stream near our house and I killed a 3 foot one just last week.
The most feared and recognizable snake on our list is definitely the Rattlesnake. There are a few species in our area (Timber, Diamondback and Pygmy) but all should be respected and avoided. Diamondbacks are tan with dark brown diamond patterns on their bodies, growing up to 5 feet. Timber rattlesnakes are a much lighter color shade of tan and have brown bands across their bodies. Pygmies are much smaller (< 2 feet) and are white with brown and pink spots on their backs. These snakes are soon to be moving out of peanut and soybean fields in search of new habitat. Plenty of people see them crossing the road or lying in ditches. Pretty much any area of heavy vegetation is a potential home for these predators.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the snakes in our area, but some that are worthy of avoiding. If you find yourself eye to eye with a snake, just back away and leave it be. Most of the time they are more scared of you than you are of it. If you do happen to kill one and want to show it off, I’d love to see them up here at the extension office. Please be safe out there.