If you’re planning a trip to the beaches of Destin, Florida, you may be wondering if you need to watch out for snakes. After all, Florida is home to a variety of snake species, some of which are venomous.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: While there are several species of snakes that call Florida home, most aren’t found around the beaches and developed areas of Destin. Only a few harmless species may be spotted around beach vegetation and dunes.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about snakes in Destin, including:

* An overview of venomous and nonvenomous snake species found in the area

* Where snakes are most likely to be encountered

* How to practice snake bite safety and prevention

* What to do if you spot a snake or get bitten

Venomous Snakes in Destin, Florida

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

The Eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest venomous snake in Destin, Florida, growing up to 8 feet long. This heavy-bodied pit viper has dark diamond-shaped markings down its back and can be identified by its distinctive rattle.

Eastern diamondbacks are found in pine flatwoods, scrublands, palmetto flats and coastal dunes in the Florida Panhandle. They are generally not aggressive unless provoked and will often give warning by vibrating their tails before striking.

Their potent hemotoxic venom can cause severe tissue damage, hemorrhaging and potential death if left untreated, so medical attention should be sought immediately if bitten.

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake

The dusky pygmy rattlesnake is a small venomous pit viper, averaging 1-2 feet in length, with a tiny rattle on the end of its tail. Its coloration varies from gray to brown with dark blotches down the back.

These snakes inhabit sandy soils and scrublands of the Florida Panhandle, where they are well camouflaged. Bites can cause severe localized pain, swelling and tissue damage, though fatalities are rare. Antivenom can treat more serious envenomations.

Dusky pygmy rattlesnakes are unlikely to bite unless stepped on or handled.

Southern Copperhead

The southern copperhead is a moderately sized, stout-bodied pit viper that grows 2-3 feet long and has a distinctive coppery-colored, hourglass-shaped pattern. They are found throughout the Florida Panhandle in wooded and rocky areas.

Their venom is hemotoxic, destroying blood cells and causing tissue damage, pain and swelling around the bite site. Copperhead bites can be serious but are very rarely fatal to humans. While painful and inconvenient, most copperhead bites respond well to prompt medical treatment and antivenom.


Also called water moccasins, cottonmouths are large, heavy-bodied pit vipers that inhabit marshes, swamps, lakes and rivers of northwest Florida. They can reach up to 6 feet long and have a distinctive white lining inside their mouth.

Their venom contains hemotoxins that break down tissues and blood cells. Cottonmouth bites can cause severe localized pain, bruising, swelling, and tissue damage or necrosis. Without medical care, bites can be life-threatening.

Fortunately, antivenom is highly effective at treating envenomations when administered promptly.

Coral Snake

The vibrantly colored eastern coral snake has distinctive red, yellow and black banding and rounded pupils. They average 2-3 feet long and inhabit wooded and marshy areas of the Florida Panhandle. Their venom contains powerful neurotoxins that paralyze the central nervous system and breathing muscles.

Coral snake bites are rare, and they tend to be shy, avoiding confrontation. But their venom can cause respiratory failure and cardiac arrest in severe untreated cases. If bitten, immediate emergency medical care is vital, as antivenom can prevent serious complications.

Due to their small mouths and fangs, coral snakes often don’t release much venom in a bite.

Nonvenomous Snakes Commonly Found in Destin

Corn Snake

The corn snake, also known as the red rat snake, is one of the most common nonvenomous snakes found in Destin, Florida. They typically grow between 2-6 feet long and have reddish-orange blotches on their backs and sides. Corn snakes are adept climbers and can often be spotted in trees or bushes.

They prefer habitats like overgrown fields, forests, and abandoned buildings. One of the most docile snake species, corn snakes pose little threat to humans and often make good pets. Their diet consists mainly of small rodents like mice and rats.

Scarlet Snake

Scarlet snakes have vibrant red scales that give them their name. Ranging from 8 to 20 inches long, they are relatively small snakes but their bright coloration makes them easy to spot. In Destin, scarlet snakes shelter under debris and moist soil and sand.

They especially like pine forests and scrublands. While timid and unlikely to bite if handled, scarlet snakes release a foul-smelling musk from their tails when frightened. Their main prey includes small lizards, frogs, salamanders, slugs, and worms.

Eastern Indigo Snake

The eastern indigo is North America’s longest native snake, growing over 8 feet long! These muscular, nonvenomous snakes have glossy blue-black scales. They thrive in various habitats from pinelands to hardwood hammocks.

Eastern indigos are apex predators that feed on frogs, lizards, snakes and small mammals like rabbits and raccoons. These snakes aren’t typically aggressive towards humans but will vibrate their tails rapidly as a warning sign before striking in self-defense if threatened.

Pine Woods Snake

As their name suggests, pine woods snakes live in pine forests and sandy areas in Florida’s panhandle region, including around Destin. Adults reach 20-35 inches long and have a light brown body with small dark spots down the back.

Pine woods snakes spend much of their time burrowed underground or hiding under logs and debris. When above ground, they move rather slowly. Pine woods snakes hunt by waiting patiently for lizards and smaller snakes to pass by.

Their calm demeanor makes them a docile species that rarely bites even if handled.

Eastern Rat Snake

The eastern rat snake is a rodent-eating species that plays an important role in controlling pest populations. They live in wooded areas and can climb trees and swim in search of food. These snakes range from 3.5 to almost 6 feet long.

They have black or dark gray scales with white patches on their chin and throat. Eastern rat snakes kill their prey by squeezing tightly and suffocating it. Though they typically aren’t aggressive, rat snakes can emit a foul musk and vibrate their tail when feeling threatened.

Overall, they pose very little danger to people.

Where Snakes Are Most Likely to Be Encountered in Destin

In vegetated dunes along the beach

The vegetated sand dunes along Destin’s beaches provide ideal habitat for certain snake species. According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the southern black racer and the eastern coachwhip are often found hunting rodents and lizards that live in the beach dune vegetation.

These long, slender serpents blend in remarkably well among the grasses and scrubby plants of the dunes. They are fast runners that pose little threat to humans. But be cautious where you step in these areas!

Around freshwater wetlands

Freshwater marshes and swamps in and around Destin are home to a surprising diversity of snakes that thrive around water. Species likely to be spotted here include the banded water snake, brown water snake, North American racer (a highly nimble swimmer), and eastern mud snake, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

These wetland snakes primarily eat fish, frogs, tadpoles and other small aquatic creatures they can swallow whole. While they generally flee from humans, take care when stepping through muddy areas or turning over debris near the water’s edge.

In scrubby flatwood areas

The sandy flatwoods scattered among Destin’s coastal dunes and wetlands offer prime habitat for several secretive snake species. Based on habitat data from the FWC, likely encounters in such areas include the Florida pine snake, short-tailed snake, scarlet snake, Southeastern crowned snake, and peninsula ribbon snake.

These small-to-medium-sized snakes mostly feed on lizards, frogs, smaller snakes, eggs, and insects. They are unlikely to bite unless handled, so it’s best to simply observe from a distance if spotted under debris or leaf litter.

On hiking trails

Destin’s wooded parks and nature preserves contain a similar mix of snakes that may be spotted when walking area trails. Favored hideouts include rotting logs, brush piles, tree stumps, and areas of leaf litter both sunny and shaded.

Hikers may encounter coachwhips, racers, rat snakes, and king snakes basking by the sides of trails on sunny spring days when temperatures are mild. Water snakes are sometimes found crossing overland between wetlands after heavy rains.

And pygmy rattlesnakes may be coiled under bushes or trees bordering trails through scrubby flatwoods areas.

So while the chance of encountering snakes in Destin is quite low, it’s wise to remain observant when hiking the area’s beautiful but wild natural areas.

Snake Bite Safety Tips for Destin Beachgoers

Going to the beach in Destin, Florida can be a fun and relaxing experience. However, beachgoers should be aware of the possibility of encountering snakes, including venomous species. By following some basic safety precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk of being bitten.

Be Aware of Snake Habitats

When at the beach, be conscious of areas that snakes may inhabit. Watch out for patches of vegetation, driftwood piles, dunes with rodent burrows, and other areas where snakes may lurk. Give these areas a wide berth.

Wear Protective Footwear

Wear shoes, sneakers, or sandals when walking through vegetated areas or dunes. Don’t go barefoot. Thick-soled close-toed shoes provide the best protection.

Watch Where You Place Your Hands

Be careful reaching under brush,driftwood or other objects where snakes may hide. If you need to move something, do so gently using a long stick.

Leave Snakes Alone

If you spot a snake, do not try to touch or harass it. Stay at least 5 feet away. Snakes bite when threatened or accidentally stepped on, so give them space. Let the snake move away on its own.

Keep Campsites Clean

When camping on the beach, store food in sealed containers and keep campsites clean. Leftover food can attract rodents, which then attract snakes.

Know What to Do If Bitten

Seek medical attention immediately if bitten. Do not cut the wound or try to suck out the venom. Keep the bite below heart level to slow venom movement. Take a photo of the snake if it’s safe, which can help identify the species to administer the right anti-venom.

By being cautious and smart, beachgoers can safely enjoy Destin’s shoreline without worry of snake bites. Remember – respect snakes, don’t handle them, and most importantly get medical care quickly if bitten.

What To Do If You Get Bitten By a Snake in Destin

Getting bitten by a snake can be a scary and dangerous situation. However, try to stay calm, get medical help as soon as possible, and take steps to prevent the venom from spreading. Here is what you should do if you get bitten by a snake in Destin, Florida:

1. Remain Calm

It’s understandable to feel anxious if you get bitten by a snake, but do your best to stay calm. Panicking can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise, which will circulate the venom more quickly. Take slow, deep breaths to keep yourself relaxed.

2. Wash the Wound

Gently wash the bite area with soap and water if possible. Do not try to cut or suck out the venom. Cleaning the wound helps remove some venom and bacteria from the surface of the skin.

3. Immobilize the Bitten Area

Bandage the area lightly to help reduce movement. Try to keep the bitten limb still. The less you move, the slower the venom will spread through your body. Immobilizing the arm or leg can buy you time to get medical care.

4. Seek Emergency Medical Care

Get to a hospital or call 911 as soon as you can, even if the bite looks minor. Emergency rooms have antivenom drugs that can save lives and prevent serious complications. Do not waste time looking for the snake that bit you. Getting medical care quickly is the priority.

5. Monitor Symptoms

Watch for signs of envenomation, like swelling, redness, bruising, numbness, blurred vision, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. Update emergency responders and doctors on any concerning symptoms you experience so they can determine the right treatments.

6. Take Pictures If Possible

Use your phone to take photos of the snake and bite if it is safe to do so. Pictures can help doctors identify the species and choose the right antivenom medication. If you cannot safely take photos, give a detailed verbal description of the snake’s markings and head shape.

7. Avoid Home Remedies

Do not apply ice, cut the wound, use a tourniquet, or try to suck out the venom. These folk remedies are ineffective and can cause further harm. The only proven treatment is prompt medical care and antivenom drugs.

Snake bites should always be treated as medical emergencies in Destin. Even bites from snakes considered mild can become serious without proper care. Stay calm, limit movement, and get to a hospital as soon as possible after a bite to reduce complications.

With prompt antivenom treatment, most victims make full recoveries.


While snake encounters are fairly uncommon for the average beachgoer in Destin, being aware of the potential species in the area and exercising caution in vegetated habitats can help reduce your risk.

By following responsible snake bite prevention habits and knowing what to do in case of a bite, you can feel reassured and enjoy your Florida beach vacation.

Similar Posts