The Most Dangerous Animals of North Florida

Toni Koraza
Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

North Florida is home to some of the most dangerous animals in the United States.

If you see any of the creatures from this list, you should be highly cautioned as some could cause physical harm.
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The Brown Recluse

The Brown Recluse spider is one of the deadliest species of spiders out there.

Although Brown Recluse is not a native species of Florida, they could be found in abundance in the Alachua, Bay, Duval, Jefferson, and Leon counties of North Florida. It's a small creature, but one bite from this venomous Arachnid could send you to a hospital. This spider has an unusual activity of playing dead until you come close. If you're unlucky, they can suddenly wake up and bite you. In February 2014, a 62-years man died after being bitten by a Brown Recluse.

Moreover, there is no known treatment for the Brown Recluse's venom, but it can be administered depending on the symptoms. Usually, a Brown Recluse has a black violin-shaped mark on her body, but the color is variable.

The Northern Black Widow

There are four categories of Black Widow spiders that are found in Florida:

  • The Southern Black Widow
  • The Northern Black Widow
  • The Red Widow
  • The Brown Widow

The Northern Black Widow can be found anywhere from North Florida to Canada.

The female of a Northern Black Widow is big, and her body can vary from 8 to 15 mm in size.

The male spiders of this group are generally small in size and less venomous as compared to their female counterparts. Black widow is venomous but only bites in self-defense or when accidentally comes in contact with humans. Most human contact with Black Widow happens in garages, basements, old cabinets, and cluttered areas. These spiders live in dark places.

Luckily, they don't eject their venom with every bite. As a result, nobody has died of a Black Widow's bite in over a decade in the Sunshine State.

Florida Black Bears

Black Bears are found in every region of Florida.

In North Florida, Black Bears are mainly found in Jacksonville and its neighboring regions. They are also the largest land animals living in North Florida.

The Black Bear population has been classified as an endangered species due to increasing hunting activities. These bears are 80% vegetarian and therefore are harmless until provoked. However, one man was mauled by a black bear outside the Eastpoint Motel around 32328. This attack happened on the first eve of the controversial bear hunt in the state when Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued more than 3,200 permits for hunting Black bears. The hunt was called off after hunters killed some 300 bears.

Due to its large body and deadly claws, the Black Bear encounters could be fatal. If you somehow came in contact with Florida's Black Bear and survived, you probably wouldn't get an Academy Award as Leonardo DiCaprio did for staring in The Revenant. If the attack proves not fatal, it could hospitalize you with severe injury and severed limbs.

If you see a Black Bear, call the FWC. The FWC urges Florida residents to report incidents and potentially threatening bear activity to the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Pygmy Rattlesnake

Pygmy Rattlesnake is another dangerous animal that can be found in the Greater Jacksonville area. An adult Pygmy Rattlesnake can be anywhere between 12 to 21 inches long and carry extremely venomous. A bite from a pygmy rattlesnake is excruciatingly painful, but it's usually not fatal.

However, the bite could be life-threatening to children and small animals.

Pygmy rattlesnake is not known to attack without any external stimulus. Be careful not to touch, step or poke these snakes.

Pygmy rattlesnakes have a black diagonal line just behind their eye. Their body color can vary from light to dark grey. Recently an 11 years old girl was bitten by a pygmy rattlesnake in Blue Spring State Park. Fortunately, the girl survived the attack because she was immediately taken to the nearest hospital.


Copperhead snakes are found only in the Panhandle region of North Florida.

These snakes are venomous but are not considered life-threatening. A bite from a copperhead will cause extreme pain. Copperhead gets its name from the shape of its copper-red head.

They are medium size snakes with an average size of 2 to 3 feet. Besides Panhandle, copperhead snakes can also be found in West Texas, Mexico, and New England. Copperheads are semi-social snakes that mostly hunt alone and hibernate in dens. They like humid weather. You could spot them on warm nights after rain. Copperheads mostly ambush their prey and are known to be aggressive, even towards humans. Like every other animal, Copperheads do not intentionally target humans until they are provoked. But if these snakes see you as a threat or pray, they can become relentless.

Last September, a Copperhead snake attacked a patient in a nursing home. The victim survived the near-fatal attack.

Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers are magnificent but almost extinct wild animals.

It's estimated that less than 100 panthers roam around the Northern counties of Baker, Nassau Duval, Putnam, St. Johns, and Clay, according to FWC.

Panthers live in trees and prey on smaller animals, and sometimes hunt by stealth. If you come across a Florida Panther, stay on high alert. Don't engage, but avoid appearing smaller than you are. These animals can travel quickly and silently through trees or dense vegetation and sometimes confuse humans with their potential prey.

FWS offers detailed instructions on how to deal with a Florida Panther if you do engage one.

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