These are 6 of the most dangerous critters in South Carolina

South Carolina has a variety of different regions, from coastal swamps and wetlands to forests and rocky, mountainous terrain. Each of these has its own dangerous critters.

Here are six of the most dangerous creatures to watch out for in South Carolina.

american alligator

American alligators are generally non-aggressive and observing them in their natural habitat is high on the list of South Carolina’s many attractions as they can be seen scattered across the state. South Carolina alligators are most aggressive between the months of April and June during their breeding season. It is important to remember that you should never feed an alligator. This is for the safety of the alligators and anyone who encounters one of these large reptiles. Feeding an alligator causes it to associate humans with food, which can lead to dependence, lack of fear of humans and dangerous conditions.

Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse spider is venomous, but bites are relatively rare. Adult brown recluse spiders can vary in size, but are generally the size of an American quarter when their legs are straight. These spiders are nocturnal and tend to avoid human interaction unless provoked or startled.

“The brown recluse’s bite can arguably be worse than the black widow’s. The venom causes skin cells to die and rot in the area around the bite. This can lead to nasty infections and sometimes death. If you happen to see a brown recluse spider, count yourself lucky and call an exterminator right away,” said Cramer Pest Control.

bull shark

Bull sharks are highly aggressive and are widely considered by experts to be the most dangerous sharks to humans because of their aggressive tendencies and impressive ability to adapt and pull up rivers, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

These sharks live and migrate along the coast of South Carolina, usually between the months of March to October. Humans are generally not on the menu for bull sharks, but they have been reported to attack out of curiosity or misunderstanding that the person is an animal in need. Bull sharks are generally between 7 and 11 feet in length and can weigh between 200 and 500 pounds.


Cottonmouths are venomous, semi-aquatic snakes, also known as “water moccasins.” They have large, triangular heads and wide jaws because of their venom-filled glands. These snakes are large and usually range between 24 and 48 inches in length, according to the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.

These pit vipers are strong swimmers generally found in or near a body of water, where their prey is. More adult snakes appear darker in color as their distinctive markings fade. Cottonmouth heads are considerably thicker than the neck and have thick, short tails.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

The Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake is the largest venomous snake in North America. Some of these snakes can even grow up to 8 feet long. A bite from this rattlesnake is extremely painful and can be fatal if not treated promptly with the right antidote.

“Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are known for their rattling and painful, venomous bite, which can be fatal to humans. The toxin in their venom, called hemotoxin, kills red blood cells and causes tissue damage. That said, human deaths from rattlesnake bites are rare because the antidote is available throughout its range,” according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

Southern Copperhead Snake

The Copperhead is the Palmetto state’s most common venomous snake. They can be found all over the state and can reach a length of 4 feet. Watching where you step is most important when dealing with these snakes in South Carolina, as they tend to blend in with their environment, usually in nearby pine straw and other wooded or rocky areas.

They are generally nocturnal during the warmer summer months but are more active during the day during the spring and fall as these are their courting and mating seasons. Females can give birth to up to 20 live young in late summer or early fall, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Other venomous snakes in South Carolina include the Coral Snake, Pigmy Rattlesnake, and the Timber Rattlesnake.

This story was originally published June 1, 2022 5:00 a.m.

Sarah Claire McDonald is a Service Journalism Reporter for The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette. She specializes in writing audience-oriented, unique spotlight stories about people, places and events in the Low Countries. Originally from the Midwest, Sarah Claire studied news media, communications, and English at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, graduating in 2021.

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