Other common names
Most adult Florida Crowned Snakes are about 7-9 inches (18-23 cm) in total length. These small and thin snakes are tan to reddish brown with a dark brown or black head and neck. Juveniles are similar in coloration to adults.
Range in Florida
Florida Crowned Snakes are found in several areas throughout peninsular Florida, and some populations appear to be isolated from others. They do not occur in the Panhandle or in extreme Southern Florida, and they are absent from the Florida Keys. See the distributions of the three subspecies below for more detailed range information.
Assessment of risk to people and pets
Non-venomous. Florida Crowned Snakes are not dangerous to people or pets even though they do produce a mild venom that is used for subduing prey. The venom is delivered by two slightly enlarged grooved teeth at the back of the upper jaw. However, these snakes are not aggressive and do not bite even in defense.
Comparison with other species
Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctata) Non-venomous
Rough Earthsnake (Haldea striatula) Non-venomous
Dekay’s Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi) Non-venomous
Florida Brownsnake (Storeria victa) Non-venomous
Southeastern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata) Non-venomous
Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae) Non-venomous
Adult Florida Crowned Snakes are about 7-9 inches (18-23 cm) in total length, with a record length recorded of 9.5 inches (24.1 cm). These small and thin snakes are tan to reddish brown with a dark brown or black head and neck. The dark head and neck may or may not be separated by a light-colored band across the back of the head. There is typically a small pale blotch on the sides of the head behind each eye. The belly is white or cream-colored and without markings. The scales of the body are smooth and there are 15 scale rows at midbody. The eyes are small, and the pupil is round. Juveniles are similar in coloration to adults.
Florida Crowned Snakes are typically found in sandhills, well-drained grassy dunes, dry pine flatwoods, and hardwood hammocks. However, these secretive snakes often remain hidden beneath leaflitter, logs, rocks, or other surface cover. These snakes can be locally abundant, and they are often found in suburban neighborhoods where development encroaches into favorable habitats.
If captured, Florida Crowned Snakes may squirm and release foul-smelling musk from two glands in the base of the tail.
Florida Crowned Snakes are typically nocturnal (active at night) and feed primarily on tenebrionid beetle larvae. However, they also eat other invertebrates such as centipedes and snails.
Little is known about the reproductive biology of Florida Crowned Snakes, but it is presumed to be similar to Southeastern Crowned Snakes (Tantilla coronata) in that females likely lay around 1-4 eggs, which hatch in the late summer and fall.
- Central Florida Crowned Snake (Tantilla relicta neilli) Central Florida Crowned Snakes occur in the northern and central peninsula from the Suwannee River to the St. Johns River and south to Hillsborough County. The snout is narrowly rounded and there is typically not a light-colored band across the back of the head.
- Coastal Dunes Crowned Snake (Tantilla relicta pamlica) Coastal Dunes Crowned Snakes occur along the Atlantic coast from Volusia County south to Palm Beach County. It is not found outside of Florida. The snout is pointed and there is a broad light-colored band across the back of the head.
- Peninsula Crowned Snake (Tantilla relicta relicta) Peninsula Crowned Snakes occur from Marion County in the northern peninsula south to Highlands County in the central peninsula. Apparently separate populations occur in Levy County (on the Gulf coast and on Cedar Key) and in Charlotte, Collier, Lee, and Sarasota counties. It is not found outside of Florida. The snout is pointed and there is a light-colored band across the back of the head.
Florida Crowned Snakes are small and secretive snakes that 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.
Telford, S.R., Jr. 1966. Variation among the Florida crowned snakes, genus Tantilla. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences 10: 261-304.
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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