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Snakes in the Park

Four secretive and seldom seen poisonous snakes make their home in the Florida Everglades: They are the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus), Eastern coral snake (Micurus fulvius fulvius), Florida cottonmouth water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti), and dusky pigmy rattlesnake (Sisturus milarius barbouri).

Usually less than 2 feet in length, with alternating black, red, and orange bands, the Eastern coral snake has to chew to inflict a bite. Many coral snake bites occur when children pick up what looks like a pretty bracelet.

Florida cottonmouth water moccasins have a large triangle-shaped flat head and a cottony whiteness inside their jaws. They are dark brown, with yellowish-brown bands, are up to 3 to 4 feet in length, and have a blunt tail. It is usually found near or in water.

Besides the distinctive and chilling rattle that you'll hear if you get too close, the Eastern diamondback rattler has recognizable black diamond patterns outlined in black and yellow. Although averaging about 4 feet in length, the largest Eastern diamondback rattlesnake ever captured was 8 feet 3 inches long.

The dusky pygmy rattlesnake, which seldom reaches lengths of more than 20 inches, is mostly gray on its back with large black splotches running in a line. Although common throughout Florida and abundant in the Everglade marsh and palmetto environments, dusky pygmy rattlesnakes tend to remain well-hidden and are seldom seen.

There are 22 other nonpoisonous snake species in the park, including the Florida banded water snake (Nerodia fasciata piciata pictivenitris), the Florida green water snake (Nerodia cyclopion floridana), the redbelly water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster), the Mississippi green water snake (Nerodia cyclopion), the brown water snake, and the endangered Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), the largest snake in America, reaching lengths of 8 feet or more.

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