Other common names
Florida Brown Snake, Brown Snake
Most adult Florida Brownsnakes are about 9-13 inches (23-33 cm) in total length. These snakes are small, thin, and may be tannish brown or rusty brown. Adults have a faint light stripe running down the middle of the back that is boarded on both sides by parallel rows of small black spots, which may be connected across the back. The upper lip scales are whitish except for a large dark marking under each eye. Juveniles are dark brown with a whitish band across back of head.
Range in Florida
Florida Brownsnakes are found in peninsular Florida ranging south of the Suwannee River on the Gulf side diagonally northeast to Duval County on the east coast. It is found in the Upper Florida Keys, and an apparently isolated population exists on the Lower Keys.
Assessment of risk to people and pets
Non-venomous. Florida Brownsnakes are not dangerous to people or pets.
Comparison with other species
Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctata) Non-venomous
Rough Earthsnake (Haldea striatula) Non-venomous
Dekay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi) Non-venomous
Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) Non-venomous
Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae) Non-venomous
Adult Florida Brownsnakes in Florida are about 9-13 inches (23-33 cm) in total length, with a record length recorded of 19 inches (48.3 cm). These snakes are small, thin, and may be tannish brown or rusty brown. Adults have a faint light stripe running down the middle of the back that is boarded on both sides by parallel rows of small black spots, which may be connected across the stripe on the back. The back of the neck and top of the head are dark brown, and there is a light band across the back of the head between the darker areas. The upper lip scales are whitish except for a large dark marking under each eye. The belly is tannish to pinkish, often with black dots along the edges. The scales on the back are keeled (each scale has a prominent raised ridge) and arranged in 15 scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juveniles are dark brown with a whitish band across back of head.
Florida Brownsnakes are commonly found in most terrestrial and wetland habitats throughout their range. However, these secretive snakes often remain hidden beneath leaflitter, logs, rocks, or other surface cover. Adults and juveniles of this species are often found in suburban neighborhoods where development encroaches into favorable habitats.
These inoffensive snakes typically do not bite in defense, but stressed snakes will rarely strike with the mouth closed as a bluff. If captured or molested, Florida Brownsnakes will often squirm vigorously, flatten their bodies, and release foul-smelling musk from two glands in the base of the tail.
Florida Brownsnakes are typically active at night and early evening, and they feed primarily on earthworms, slugs, and occasionally insects. However, relatively little is known about the diet of this species, and it is likely similar to the diet of the Dekay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi). These snakes are not constrictors. Prey are typically grasped, quickly repositioned, and swallowed alive.
In Florida, females give live birth to around 6-13 young between June and September. The newborns are tiny and only measure about 4 in (10 cm) in total length.
No subspecies of Florida Brownsnake are currently recognized.
Florida Brownsnakes can be locally abundant in parts of their range, including in residential areas. However, these small and secretive snakes are rarely seen unless they are disturbed from their hiding places during yardwork or heavy rains. Otherwise, they are typically found by actively searching for them under rocks, logs, or other surface cover.
County data coming soon.
If you have a new or interesting observation for this species, please email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum.
Ernst, C.H. and E.M. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. 668 pp.
Krysko, K.L., K.M. Enge, and P.E. Moler. 2019. Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, Florida. 706 pp.
Powell, R., R. Conant, and J.T. Collins. 2016. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston and New York. xiv + 494 pp.
Share your observations
You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.
Additional helpful information
Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.
Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.
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