what type of snake

Asked June 14, 2019, 9:17 PM EDT

what type of snake is this is it harmless?

Flagler County Florida snake identification snakes of florida dusky pygmy rattlesnake sistrurus miliarius barbouri

1 Response

Thank you for your question. The snake in your photo is a dusky pygmy rattlesnake, scientific name Sistrurus miliarius barbouri. It is a venomous species. Typical adult length is approximately 18 inches, with maximum length approximately 2.5 feet.

The pygmy rattlesnake has tiny rattles, making them susceptible to breaking, so it is not uncommon to find them without rattles.

There are three subspecies of pygmy rattlesnakes. They are found from portions of North Carolina west to Oklahoma and south to eastern Texas and east to Florida. S. m. barbouri is found in the extreme southern portion of Alabama and Georgia and throughout Florida. They occur in a variety of habitats including dry upland sandhills, mixed hardwood/pine forests, palmetto stands, floodplains, mangroves and marshland.

They feed on centipedes, lizards, snakes, frogs and mice. The juveniles have a yellow-tipped tail that they use as a lure to attract prey close enough to strike.

They generally rely on their excellent camouflage to avoid detection. If threatened, they coil up and face the source of the threat. They generally don't strike, unless they are provoked, and generally bite only when picked up or stepped on. Their bite is generally not considered life-threatening to humans, but, obviously, you should avoid being bitten by any venomous snake. Almost all victims that receive proper medical treatment make a full recovery.

Here's a link to the University of Florida's Natural History Museum webpage with information for this species:

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/list/sistrurus-miliarius-barbouri/

If you would like to learn more about snakes in your area, here are two excellent references:

Gibbons, Whit and Mike Dorcas. (2015). Snakes of the Southeast. 2nd edition. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

Gibbons, Whit. (2017). Snakes Of The Eastern United States. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

I hope this answers your question, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.

Jim