Moving back to Florida after spending 16 years in Arizona, I realized that there are more creatures that are more dangerous then rattlesnakes here in Florida. Florida's fascinating and diverse wildlife sets the state apart. One doesn't need to look far to find beautiful wading birds, brilliant green turtles and adorable manatees. But not all of the Sunshine State's animal residents are cute and cuddly.
Here are 9 potentially dangerous wild animals you might meet in Florida, other than the three species of rattlesnakes, that you can train your dog to avoid..
American alligators live around fresh and brackish water in every county in Florida. They’ve attacked 410 people in the state since the FWC began keeping records in 1948. Twenty five of those attacks have been fatal. On average, the state sees about seven unprovoked bites per year.
For all but the most massive gators, an adult human is too big to be considered a menu item. They prefer to go after prey they can overpower easily,
Unfortunately, that means most alligator attacks are on small children and pets. People walking dogs near bodies of water should be especially aware of the danger, even if there are no warning signs posted.
The Southern Black Widow Spider Has A Nasty Bite
Two types of venomous spiders inhabit Florida. The black widow spider is easy to recognize. It has a black body with a bright, red hourglass pattern on its back. They can be found almost anywhere in Florida and typically build large webs to trap flies.
Brown recluse spiders can be more difficult to spot. They earned their name because of their desire to hide in dark spaces. They are brown with a violin-shaped marking on their back.
Although widow spiders are shy, if intimidated to the point of biting, they will inject a neurotoxic venom that can cause extreme sickness and, in some very rare cases, death.
According to statistics, spiders and insect bites are more dangerous in Florida than snakes and aligators.
Coral Snakes – An elusive, burrowing, red-and-yellow snake that happens to be one of the most poisonous animals in Florida, the coral snake has a powerful neurotoxin that can cause respiratory failure over the span of about 18 hours.
Water Moccasins (Cottonmouth) – These water-loving snakes are typically brown, black or yellow, and primarily forage after dark. They can be found near swamps, streams, creeks and lakes, but rarely slither up trees. Serious symptoms can occur within an hour, and fatal symptoms can appear in less than 24 hours.
Copperheads – Copperheads, which are typically brownish tan, have a very painful bite that’s typically less life-threatening than rattlesnakes. Sometimes, they will “dry bite” without injecting venom, but it’s best to assume that the bite was poisonous and get your pet medical attention immediately.
Fire Ants – These stinging insects are a pain, and they love pet food! They crawl around on your pet’s skin and sting them. It also can be hard to use insecticides in areas where your pet roams around. According to Texas A&M, there are a few all-natural ways to handle fire ants, thankfully.
Florida Bark Scorpion
This species is found in the more tropical parts of Florida.
As the largest of all Florida’s scorpions, the average length is between two and four inches.
This scorpion is reddish brown to black. The legs are lighter in color, ranging from yellowish to orange to reddish.
Florida bark scorpions are fast and flighty.
The sting from this variety of scorpion can be very painful.
Hentz Striped Scorpion
This is the most common scorpion in Florida. This type is found almost everywhere in the state.
The average length of the Hentz striped scorpion is between two and two and a half inches.
This species is tan to dark brown. The abdomen often has yellowish green strips across its width. The length of this scorpion’s body may have a pair of dark stripes.
Guiana Striped Scorpion
Another common type of scorpion in Florida is the Guiana striped scorpion. Here are a few distinguishing characteristics of this type of scorpion:
This variety is commonly found in Monroe, Collier and Miami-Dade counties.
Cane Toads – Also known as bufo toads, they are the most dangerous frogs for dogs in Florida. Frogs dangerous to dogs obviously don’t bite or sting but have a toxin in their skin. Dogs and animals that play with them or lick them can be dead in minutes. Be extra cautious while letting your dog play outside after a harsh rain. If they come into contact, immediately flush the area with running water as much as possible for about 15 minutes. Try to make sure the dog doesn’t swallow the water. Then, call your vet.
Colorado River Toads – I thought I'd left this toad behind in Arizona!!
This toad is similar to the cane toad, though the cane toad is not a native species and the Colorado River Toad is. It secretes a white ooze behind its eyes that’s highly toxic and can cause permanent neurological damage when ingested. Again, flush the area with running water while avoiding pushing the toxin to the back of the pet’s throat.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes – Named “diamondback” for the unique pattern on its back, this massive snake can strike up to two-thirds of its body length. That’s often several feet! It tends to prefer pine flatwoods. It doesn’t necessarily rattle before it strikes.
Eastern Timber Rattlesnakes – Another type of rattler, this large snake has a reddish-brown stripe down its back and camouflages easily with its surroundings in pine flatwoods.
Pigmy Rattlesnakes – This small, thick rattlesnake is found in lowland prairies as well as along the borders of freshwater ponds, lakes and swamps. Its rattle sounds like a quiet buzzing insect, and it’s known to protect itself. While it’s small, the venom still packs a punch!
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Learn how to teach snake avoidance
Down load flash cards of all the critter avoidance games
This is the condensed 3 week curriculum for training your dog on new dangerous critter scents with the same "away" behavior.