Venomous Snakes of
Florida

and Snakebite Treatment
By Greg (Snakeman) Longhurst
Photos By Bill Love

Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake
Sistrurus miliarius barbouri



Rattle.jpg (68536 bytes)     The Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake is the most common venomous snake in Florid, and is responsible for more human snakebite than any other snake. It is found throughout the state.
    Also known as the ground rattler, the snake is grey in color with black blotches all over its body, including the underside.  There is a series of nearly circular black markings on the middle of the back, with a dotted brick-red to orange line running right down the center of the back, between each black blotch.
     These snakes only attain a length of 2 feet, but average around a foot in length.   Their small size & moderately mild venom keeps them from being a serious threat to human life, but the bite is still extremely painful. One man I know was bitten severely enough by a large pygmy that he was hospitalized, and very nearly died.  Despite their diminutive size, I have yet to meet one that didn't act like it was 12 feet long and ready to take on anything.  If you give the snake half of an opportunity to bite you, it will happen.   Don't count on hearing the rattle, as it is very slender and does not produce much noise.
     To illustrate how common these snakes are in some areas, I was attempting to get a job done during storm Gordon, which dumped a lot of water on this part of the state a few years back.  We were attempting to work on a stretch of levee around the water catchment area.  The dry side of the levee, which consists of pine and palmetto, had knee deep water on it.  In a two day period, I caught over 60 pygmy rattlesnakes on a two mile stretch of levee.  They are active both day and night.
      Their diet includes lizards, amphibians, and rodents.    In most areas, they prey upon the first two items, which being lower in protein than rodents, is probably the reason most do not exceed 18 inches in length.   In a captive situation, or where in residence in an agricultural area where rodents are readily available, they will grow bigger.