A majority of Florida snakes are harmless. Of the 50 established species found in Florida, only 6 species are venomous.
You may be able to safely feed squirrels in a city park, but if you grab one of the squirrels, chances are it will bite and scratch you out of fear. Most people would not condemn squirrels because they defend themselves by biting and scratching. Snakes defend themselves mostly by fleeing, but they may bite if captured and harmed. However, biting is not a sign that they are dangerous, it is just the only way that most snakes have to defend themselves. Some snakes might also exude a smelly musk or defecate on the human or other animal that is threatening them.
If you find a snake and do not know whether it is non-venomous (harmless) or venomous.
- The safest thing to do is leave it alone.
- Regardless of what some people say, Florida snakes are not aggressive, and unless they are cornered, most will flee when they see you.
If you have snakes around your house
- You should feel lucky as they are there for a reason.
- If you find a snake in your backyard, swimming pool, or garage, do not try to kill it! Instead, try to identify it and if it is non-venomous, appreciate it and leave it alone just as you do with songbirds in your garden.
- All snakes are carnivorous and a benefit to humans. For example, ratsnakes eat rodents such as mice and rats, and kingsnakes eat these rodents as well as other snakes, including venomous snakes. If it is a small species like a Ringneck Snake or Crowned Snake, they are helpful in your garden where they can do their job eating little pest insects.
If you are bitten by a snake
- Most people are bitten on the hands and arms when they are handling or trying to kill a snake. Therefore, if you are uncertain of its identity do not try to catch or even kill a snake.
- For a short time after a snake is killed, its reflexes may continue to work. Those reflexes typically cause the body to writhe slowly, but poking or prodding a freshly killed snake can cause a convulsive contraction and even a bite, so do not handle a newly killed venomous snake.
- Stay calm, remove any rings that could restrict circulation if tissues swell, keep the bitten limb below the level of the heart.
- The only acceptable treatment for venomous snakebite, involves the use of antivenin. So if you or someone else is bitten by a venomous snake, seek immediate attention at the nearest hospital or medical facility.