Snake ID

Asked October 10, 2019, 10:30 AM EDT

My dog almost stepped on this snake at the dog park here in Daytona, FL. Can you identify for me?

Florida dusky pygmy rattlesnake sistrurus miliarius barbouri venomous snakes of florida

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. The snake in your photograph is a dusky pygmy rattlesnake, scientific name Sistrurus miliarius barbouri. This is one of the venomous species found in Florida.

Typical length of adults is slightly less than 2 feet, while maximum length can reach approximately 2.5 feet. There are three subspecies: the Carolina pygmy rattlesnake (S. m. miliarius), the dusky pygmy (S. m. barbouri) and the western pygmy (S. m. streckeri). The dusky pygmy occurs throughout Florida and in the extreme southern portions of Georgia and Alabama. Their choice of habitat can vary from dry, upland sandhills and mixed hardwood and pine forests to low-lying palmetto stands, floodplains, mangrove areas and marshes.

They feed on a variety of small prey including centipedes, lizards, frogs, snakes and mice.

Pygmy rattlesnakes have very small rattles, so small, in fact, that it can be difficult to hear them if they rattle. If threatened they usually try to remain still and depend on their natural camouflage to remain undetected. They generally don't strike unless you antagonize them, and usually don't bite unless you pick them up, which, obviously, you should not attempt. Because they are relatively small, their bite is generally not considered life threatening to humans. However, if bitten, you still need to get immediate medical attention. On the plus side, nearly all victims who receive appropriate medical attention recover fully.

Here's a link to the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens where you can get more info on this species:

https://www.centralfloridazoo.org/animals/dusky-pygmy-rattlesnake/

If you are interested in learning more about snake species in Florida, here's an excellent field guide:

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

Thank you sir for your time and expertise.

You're welcome! Contact us any time.

Jim