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The Most Dangerous Creatures Around Tampa Bay

When planning a trip to Florida, many people are concerned about the alligator population or the sharks swimming along the shoreline. These attacks may happen more often in the Sunshine State than in some other locations.

However, the warm waters and humid climate create a welcoming environment for many harmful animals.

So let’s take a closer look at some of the most dangerous creatures around Tampa Bay and whether you should still consider visiting this popular area on Florida’s west coast. Let’s dive in! 

Where Is Tampa Bay? 

Sitting on the western shoreline of Florida, Tampa Bay is where St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Tampa meet the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa lies on the northeastern shores of Tampa Bay, while Clearwater is toward the northwest. The St. Petersburg peninsula juts out into the bay’s southwestern part.

What Is Tampa Bay Known for?

Tampa Bay is known for its beautiful beaches. Snowbirds and summer vacationers love visiting the Tampa Bay area to enjoy the white sand and turquoise waters. It’s also home to professional sports teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Aquariums, zoos, theme parks, and other attractions also attract tourists. About 30 million people visit the Tampa Bay area yearly.

What Lives in Tampa Bay Water?

Animals like sea turtles, dolphins, crabs, fish, ospreys, and herons find their habitats in and around Tampa Bay. Manatees are one of the most well-known Florida sea mammals and flock to the warm springs every January and February to escape the colder Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to the West Indian Manatee, the roseate spoonbill and brown pelican help indicate whether Tampa Bay is healthy because of what they need to survive. If these animals are present, the Tampa Bay ecosystem is thriving.

The Most Dangerous Creatures Around Tampa Bay

Although you won’t find manatees or birds on the list of most dangerous creatures in Tampa Bay, there are other animals you’ll want to avoid when visiting the area. Snakes, in particular, are prevalent because of the warm, tropical climate, so always be cautious when swimming or hiking.


From timber and pigmy to eastern diamondback, various rattlesnakes are inhabiting Tampa Bay. Timber rattlesnakes and diamondbacks like to linger near woodpiles, so if you’re camping in Tampa Bay, don’t reach for something without looking. You’ll usually hear their rattles providing a warning, though, before you get too close. Both rattlesnakes are venomous, so seek medical attention immediately if they bite you.


Another common venomous snake in Tampa Bay is the copperhead. Instead of striking like a short-tempered cottonmouth, a copperhead will freeze when disturbed or frightened. It won’t slither away, hoping its camouflage protects it from prey. This camouflage is also why there are so many human encounters with copperheads. It’s easy to hike a trail and miss seeing it coiling next to a rock or pile of leaves.

Coral Snakes

In the United States, coral snakes have red, yellow, white, and black bands. They’re highly venomous but don’t bite humans very often. It’s much less common to experience a bite from a coral snake than a bite from a diamondback or copperhead.

Coral snakes live in the southern part of the United States, where they enjoy pine and scrub oak sandhill habitats.

Water Moccasins

Cottonmouths, or water moccasins, are one of the most fearsome snakes in Tampa Bay. Their giant mouths, venomous fangs, and short tempers mean they can strike without much warning. Water moccasins tend to slither into pools and other places with water. Always stay on the lookout when entering the water. It’s not uncommon to walk outside and find one swimming around in your backyard pool.


Throughout Florida, you’ll find alligators freely roaming the waters. Who knows how many alligators find their home in Tampa Bay? Since 1948 when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission started tracking the interactions of alligators with humans, there have been 442 confirmed alligator attacks.

Thankfully, only 26 of these attacks ended in fatalities. However, no matter what body of water you’re swimming, fishing, or playing near, you’ll want to stay alert to these dangerous creatures.

What Is Florida’s Deadliest Animal?

Pythons, sharks, black bears, and the elusive Florida panther roam the waters and land of the Sunshine State. Some people may think alligators and crocodiles are the most dangerous creatures in Florida. Still, in actuality, there are so many of these reptiles that Floridians are used to cohabitating with these animals.

Depending on the person, someone may say the bull shark is Florida’s deadliest animal because of its aggression. Surfers and beachgoers would agree that Florida’s shark population is dangerous. However, someone else might say Florida’s population of venomous snakes is problematic because of how many snakes there are. Snake bites in Florida, especially among children, are one of the highest in the country.

One animal we haven’t mentioned is the box jellyfish. This creature’s venom can be the deadliest in the sea. It can stop your heart with its dangling tentacles. If you’re swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and a box jellyfish stings you, you might not return to shore alive.

Is Tampa Bay Worth Visiting?

Tampa Bay is one of the most popular tourist areas in the country. With Busch Gardens, the Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, ZooTampa, numerous cruises and charters, and plenty of nightlife venues, Tampa has something for everyone. Don’t let the dangerous creatures here keep you from experiencing a fantastic vacation and making lifelong family memories.

It’s a place for romantic sunsets and adventurous kayak trips, beautiful beaches, and unique wildlife. Stay busy or relax all day. Start planning your trip to Tampa Bay today!

Have you encountered any of the animals on this list? 

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