Do you want to learn about the types of snakes in Bolivia?
If so, you’ve come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the MOST COMMON snakes you can expect to see. Unfortunately, there are so many snakes that live in Bolivia that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂
You’ll see that the snakes in Bolivia are very different from each other. They range from venomous species to snakes that use constriction to immobilize their prey. In addition, certain snakes are common to find living around people. For each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and range maps!
19 types of snakes in Bolivia:
#1. Garden Tree Boa
- Corallus hortulana
Also known as Amazon Tree Boa, Macabrel, Common Tree Boa
- Adults are 53-188 cm (21-74 in), but they can grow up to 220 cm (87 in).
- They are famous for being polymorphic. Some snakes have patternless bodies, while others are marked with bands, chevrons, and speckles everywhere.
- Morph #1 (“Colored” morph): Bright colors such as red, orange, and yellow
- Morph #2 (“Garden” morph): Lackluster tones such as black, gray, brown, or olive
Look for this snake in Bolivia in humid jungles, dry savannas, and riversides.
As you can probably tell from its name, the Garden Tree Boa feels most at home in the protection of trees. Here, it hunts birds, lizards, frogs, and small mammals.
Unlike most other reptiles, female Garden Tree Boas give birth to live young. These babies are impressively self-sufficient! They can fend for themselves immediately after being born. After only three years, they’re fully grown and ready to repeat the reproduction cycle.
Although Garden Tree Boas are non-venomous, you may want to keep your hands off. They are known to bite at the slightest provocation, and a bite can really hurt! This makes them more suited for experienced snake keepers, but there’s plenty of time to learn; they live for up to 20 years in captivity.
#2. Common Blunt-headed Snake
- Imantodes cenchoa
Also known as Fiddle-string Snake, Neotropical Blunthead Treesnake
- They grow to be 80-150 cm (31-59 in).
- They have slender bodies, narrow necks, and large heads.
- Brown and black patches alternate along the body.
This small, cartoonish snake slithers among low vegetation in rainforests in Bolivia. If you look closely, you’ll notice its bizarre set of eyes! They are comically large with vertical slits for pupils. This gives the Common Blunt-headed Snake better vision than other snakes.
Wide awake at night, they feed on sleeping lizards, amphibians, and reptile eggs. When the sun comes out, you might find Common Blunt-headed Snakes coiled and resting on vines and bushes. They like cool, wet environments and are more active in the rainy seasons.
Common Blunt-headed Snakes have mild venom and docile natures. Therefore, they pose no danger to humans. However, they don’t do well in captivity, so it’s better to observe this snake in the wild instead of keeping one as a pet.
- Bothrops atrox
Also known as Common Lancehead, Barba Amarilla
- Adults can grow 75-125 cm (30-49 in) in length.
- Look for a series of trapezoids across the body.
- Coloration is usually olive, gray, or brown. They have light-colored bellies, commonly white or cream.
- These snakes have golden irises and black tongues.
The Fer-de-lance is responsible for most of the snake bites in Bolivia.
So, it’s best to tread carefully if you find yourself in the Amazon region. While these snakes live primarily in dense forests, they also wander into coffee plantations when hunting.
As with other pit vipers, the Fer-de-lance has heat sensors below its eyes to track prey. They easily devour smaller prey like frogs and tarantulas. However, when it comes to larger prey, these snakes bite and then let go. The venom eventually kills the animal while the lancehead tracks it down again.
This snake isn’t only dangerous to its prey, either. A bite from the Common Lancehead targets the circulatory system and can cause serious internal bleeding to humans. Interestingly, the younger snakes have faster-acting venom. Either way, you should seek medical attention quickly if you get bitten by this aggressive species.
#4. Green Anaconda
- Eunectes murinus
Also known as Giant Anaconda, Common Anaconda, Common Water Boa, Water Kamudi, Sucuri
- Green Anacondas can grow 500 cm (16.4 ft) long and weigh about 30-70 kg (66-154 lbs).
- Females are much larger than males.
- Their bodies are olive green with dark blotches, but some are brown and yellow.
- The eyes are on top of their heads to help them look around while submerged.
The Green Anaconda is the largest, heaviest snake in Bolivia and worldwide!
Adults can grow as long as a small school bus when stretched from head to tail. You can find them submerged in swamps or hidden deep in rainforests.
With their sheer size, Green Anacondas can ambush large animals that go for a drink near the water’s edge. Deer, capybaras, or even jaguars can fall victim to this relentless predator! Their hunting style is perfectly designed to take down a large meal.
First, these snakes latch onto prey with a bite from their large, sharp fangs. Then they coil themselves around their prey to make escape impossible. Finally, they slowly swallow their meal whole. Green Anacondas take time to digest such a large meal, surviving for weeks without eating again. Though they are large enough to eat humans, there are no official reports of such cases. What a relief! 🙂
#5. Yellow Anaconda
- Eunectes notaeus
Also known as Paraguayan Anaconda, Southern Anaconda
- Adults grow 330-440 cm (130-173 in) long.
- Females are larger than males.
- From head to tail, they are colored tan or yellow with dark streaks and overlapping blotches.
Yellow Anacondas are one of the largest snakes in Bolivia.
Be careful around river banks and marshlands! These huge reptiles like to loiter around wet areas in wait for passing prey. Additionally, their mottled coloring makes them almost impossible to see. They have a taste for deer, peccaries, and wading birds that they ambush from under water.
In the mating season, females release pheromones, attracting many suitors to compete for the chance to breed. The male snakes fight to prove their strength, and the strongest and largest snake wins the right to breed with the female. Yellow Anacondas give birth to live young, having up to 80 live babies at once!
Though non-venomous and non-aggressive, this species is noted for being unpredictable. There are accounts of captive snakes attacking their handlers. Therefore, it’s best to keep your distance if you find one in the wild!
#6. Western Rainbow Boa
- Epicrates cenchria
Also known as the Slender Boa
- They are usually 120-180 cm (47-71 in) long.
- Their skin refracts light, creating patches that look like an oil slick.
- Body coloration ranges from brown to reddish brown, with dark rings on their backs and blotches at the sides.
- There are three parallel stripes on the head.
This strikingly beautiful snake in Bolivia is a common resident of woodlands.
The colorful sheen of its scales is hard to miss, and this is how the Western Rainbow Boa got its name! Its visual appeal and lack of venom make it a popular pet among reptile lovers.
Western Rainbow Boas are versatile travelers. They can crawl across the land or take to the trees, but they aren’t only agile on land. They’re also strong swimmers and spend time in lakes and large rivers. Their ability to move through all these environments allows them to feed on a wide variety of prey, including birds, lizards, and amphibians.
Though harmless to humans and generally shy, Western Rainbow Boas don’t like to be handled. Hatchlings can be particularly feisty! They will bite as a warning to stay away and attempt to constrict if that fails.
#7. Boa Constrictor
- Boa constrictor
Also known as Red-tailed Boa, Common Boa
- These snakes grow 400 cm (157 in) long on average.
- Females are longer and wider than males.
- Coloration depends on their habitat. They can be varying shades of tan, brown, green, and even yellow or red.
- They have distinctive geometric patterns with ovals, diamonds, bands, and stripes.
The Boa Constrictor is so famous it doesn’t need a common name! Instead, people easily remember it by its scientific name, Boa Constrictor! Hailing from the humid tropics, this heavyweight snake can be spotted in trees and burrows.
Don’t let its large size fool you! The Boa Constrictor is an ambush predator that can strike with blinding speed. It enjoys feasting on monkeys and wild boars. This snake is also a remarkable swimmer, so don’t be surprised to find one near a river or stream.
Boa Constrictors are a popular attraction in zoos all over the world. In captivity, they can live for over 40 years. They’re generally docile, but they’ll still deliver a warning bite if they feel threatened. Thankfully, they’re non-venomous.
#8. South American Bushmaster
- Lachesis muta
Also known as Atlantic Forest Bushmaster, Mapepire Zanana
- Adults are 200-250 cm (79-98 in) long.
- They have broad heads.
- Their coloring can be yellowish, tan, or gray-brown.
- Look out for a scaly diamond pattern and a pale-colored underside.
True to its name, the South American Bushmaster loves to hide in the bushes and undergrowth of forests with frequent rain. This stealthy snake lurks near animal trails, waiting to ambush rodents, birds, and other smaller reptiles.
Bushmasters are solitary creatures. In fact, they are so elusive that herpetologists are still arguing about how dangerous they are. When they’re not hunting, these pit vipers rest in hollow logs and small burrows. So, don’t go peeking inside unless you’re prepared to come across one!
Loud rustling among fallen leaves can indicate the presence of a South American Bushmaster. They usually try to escape if disturbed but stay cautious nonetheless! Most researchers agree that they’re highly venomous. Untreated bites are thought to be potent enough to kill.
#9. Mountain Keelback
- Helicops angulatus
Also known as Brown-banded Watersnake, Water Mapepire
- Adults grow to a maximum length of 78 cm (31 inches).
- Their eyes and nostrils are situated at the top of their heads.
- These snakes tend to be olive or grayish brown. Dark, jagged bands cover their bodies.
The Mountain Keelback is one of the slowest snakes in Bolivia!
These sluggish travelers only move about a few meters each day. If you want to find one in action (or non-action, because of their slow speed), look in the freshwater bodies of the Amazon basin.
Because of its slow-moving nature, this species prefers to ambush unsuspecting prey. At night, Mountain Keelbacks lie in wait for unlucky animals swimming by. Smaller fish, frogs, and tadpoles are all on the menu. However, sometimes they are the unlucky ones as they are common prey for herons and larger snakes.
Mountain Keelbacks are only mildly venomous. However, they can be very irritable when disturbed. In defense, they will coil into an S position before lunging into a bite. They can’t kill you, but their bites are still quite painful. Hands off!
#10. Giant Parrot Snake
- Leptophis ahaetulla
Also known as Parrot Snake, Lora
- These slim-bodied snakes can grow to 172 cm (68 in) long.
- Typically, the coloration is bright green or bronze with a lighter underside. Yellow stripes are sometimes seen at the sides.
- They have noticeably large, yellow eyes with round pupils.
- Look for a black lining along the eyes on both sides of the head.
Among the trees and underbrush of Bolivia’s jungles, you might encounter what you think is a moving vine. However, a closer look would reveal it to be the Giant Parrot Snake! It’s a long, slender snake whose name refers to its vivid colors.
Parrot Snakes are only mildly venomous. Their fangs are set at the back of their mouths, so it’s harder for them to deliver venom. Even so, don’t tempt a bite! The bacteria in their mouths can cause a serious infection that requires medical attention.
Despite being narrow and seemingly harmless, Parrot Snakes are fierce predators. They hunt during daylight hours, taking down small birds and tree lizards with aggressive agility. Occasionally, if food is scarce, they are known to cannibalize each other.
#11. Forest Flame Snake
- Oxyrhopus petolarius
Also known as False Coral, Calico Snake
- They can reach a total length of 91 cm (36 in).
- Some specimens can mimic the patterns of coral snakes. They’re usually black with brightly colored bands in red, orange, and white shades.
- Some are plain brown with shiny scales.
- They have round, bulging eyes.
The Forest Flame Snake lives in forests, foothills, and lowlands in Bolivia. This snake is mainly a night-time hunter, stalking rodents, lizards, and sleeping birds. Sometimes, it will raid birds’ nests to feast on eggs. Its venom is particularly toxic to Anole Lizards, one of its favorite foods.
When the sun comes out, Forest Flame Snakes will retreat into the shade for rest. However, they like warm places, so you might find one hiding in a hollow log where it’s easier to preserve heat.
They are only mildly venomous snakes and pose no danger to humans. On the contrary, Forest Flame Snakes are quite calm even when handled. Their first instinct upon sensing threats is to flee instead of fight.
#12. Banded Cat-eyed Snake
- Leptodeira annulata
Also known as Cat-eyed Night Snake
- These snakes are very slender. They can reach lengths of 75 cm (30 in).
- Their eyes are large with vertical-slit pupils.
- Coloration is typically in shades of brown, though some are yellowish or orange.
- They have dark spots and blotches. When overlapping, these can form zigzags across the body.
The Banded Cat-eyed Snake often gets mistaken for a South American Bushmaster, but it’s nowhere near as venomous. Its mild venom only immobilizes its prey and has little effect on humans. You can find this snake in Bolivia near sources of water in scrublands and other forested areas.
Banded Cat-eyed Snakes are nocturnal hunters. In the cover of darkness, they set out to feed on unsuspecting lizards and rodents. Their semi-aquatic nature allows them to also hunt frogs and toads. During the day, they slither into the protection of hollowed logs to hide from hawks.
These docile snakes seldom bite, even when handled. They always try to escape first upon suspecting danger. If cornered, they will secrete a putrid odor against predators. Cover your nose!
#13. Patagonian Racer
- Philodryas patagoniensis
Also known as Patagonia Green Racer
- These are slender-bodied snakes growing up to 150 cm (59 in) long.
- They have big, round pupils, rounded snouts, and prominent scaled markings from head to tail.
- Coloration is various shades of olive green or brown. Their bellies are white.
The Patagonian Racer is a widespread snake in Bolivia.
It lives in steppes and grasslands across the continent. This reptile is not considered venomous, but it does have toxic saliva. It has a nasty bite, so it’s best to observe this snake from a distance.
Juvenile Patagonian Racers prefer cold-blooded prey like frogs and lizards. Adults, on the other hand, prefer warm-blooded prey such as birds and small mammals. They spend most of their time hunting in trees during the day. At night, they retreat to land crevices to avoid Barn Owls.
This stealthy snake has a habit of startling hikers with its astounding burst of speed! It can blend almost perfectly into the forest floor or tree cover.
#14. Yellow-bellied Liophis
- Erythrolamprus poecilogyrus
- These snakes can grow between 55-100 cm (22-39 in) long.
- Some specimens mimic the striped patterns of more venomous snakes.
- As their name implies, they have yellow-colored undersides. The rest of their bodies are commonly a solid brown, olive, or black.
Yellow-bellied Liophises are speedy snakes you can find racing on dry land and grass fields. They are skilled swimmers, too, staying in shallow water to feed on frogs and toads. While adults eat lizards and small mammals, babies prefer tadpoles and insects.
This fascinating snake has adaptations to help it survive, both as a predator and as prey. For example, the Yellow-bellied Liophis will vomit to protect itself if it accidentally swallows a poisonous animal. Another handy defense mechanism is mimicking the colors of venomous coral snakes. In truth, this species is generally harmless. Still, it will bite when irritated, so don’t test your luck!
The unique appearance of Yellow-bellied Liophises makes them popular in the pet trade. They’re bred to produce even more diverse color patterns.
#15. Neotropical Rattlesnake
- Crotalus durissus
Also known as South American Rattlesnake, Central American Rattlesnake, Cascabel Rattlesnake, Guiana Rattlesnake, Aruba Island Rattlesnake
- Adults are typically 150 cm (59 in) long on average.
- There is a prominent stripe at the base of their heads, intersecting each eye.
- Scales protrude from their body.
- They usually appear in shades of brown and gray. Sometimes, patterns of diamonds and triangles form across the body. Bellies are yellowish or white.
Neotropical Rattlesnakes in Bolivia are residents of grasslands and tropical forests.
You might also find them in drier areas if a shortage of prey drives them to find food. These snakes are most active at dusk, stalking rodents and other reptiles. They’re equipped with heat-sensing pits below their eyes to track down prey.
These rattlesnakes are dangerously venomous. Left untreated, bite victims can experience muscle paralysis and difficulty breathing. In the worst cases, victims can end up with organ failure and death. Therefore, if you receive a bite from a Neotropical Rattlesnake, it’s vital to get medical help as soon as possible.
A Neotropical Rattlesnake can move with remarkable speed, but its first instinct is not to attack. To warn you, it might make a rattling sound with its tail or raise its forebody into a defensive striking posture. When this happens, it’s best to respect the warning, back away slowly, and then leave the area.
#16. False Water Cobra
- Hydrodynastes gigas
Also known as False Cobra, Brazilian Smooth Snake, South American Water Cobra
- Adults are typically 200 cm (79 in) long but occasionally up to 300 cm (118 in).
- They can flatten their necks and other sections of their bodies.
- Typical coloration is olive or brown, patterned with dark spots and bands. Undersides are lighter in color.
False Water Cobras favor the high humidity of forests and marshlands. Here, they are highly alert hunters preying on fish and amphibians in the daytime. Take note of how unpredictable these snakes can be. Some individuals are mild-mannered, while others can be quite aggressive. To be safe, it’s best to observe this species from a distance.
As their name suggests, False Water Cobras aren’t true cobras. They can, however, puff up their neck and flatten the skin to mimic a cobra’s hood. You can tell them apart because False Water Cobras can’t raise their forebodies off the ground as real cobras do.
False Water Cobras are unique because their fangs don’t hold a large amount of venom. As a result, they must repeatedly chew on their prey to incapacitate it. Consequently, bites on humans are usually not serious since we can get away before this happens. Symptoms may include swelling and bouts of muscle paralysis, so it’s still important to see a doctor.
#17. Painted Lancehead
- Bothrops diporus
- On average, adults are 65 cm (26 in) long, but rare specimens nearly double that length have occurred.
- Their heads are flat and lance-shaped.
- Brown and gray colors are common. You’ll also notice dark trapezoids, triangles, and blotches alternating along the body.
These abundant snakes in Bolivia are well known for their intricate patterns and dangerous venom.
The Painted Lancehead is hard to spot on land because of how well it can camouflage itself. As such, it’s highly successful in catching passing frogs, lizards, and rodents.
Painted Lancheads, like other pit vipers, have special heat-sensing pits below their eyes. These pits allow them to find warm-blooded animals before they can see them. Of course, since humans are warm-blooded, they will sense you if you’re in range, too!
Great caution is advised when dealing with Painted Lanceheads. They are highly venomous, and untreated bites occasionally kill humans. If you encounter one, don’t attempt to confront or trap it because you’ll only make it angry! Back away from the snake slowly and leave the area instead.
#18. Leopard Keelback
- Helicops leopardinus
- These small snakes are only 48-100 cm (19-39 in) long.
- They have slender, tapered tails.
- Their base colors are usually black, brown, or gray. They have a series of dark orange or yellow spots and bands.
If you find yourself in the wetlands of Bolivia, you may have an encounter with the Leopard Keelback. This nocturnal species has quite a temper, so try not to disturb it! The good news is their bite is non-venomous. Pain and swelling are the worst symptoms, but a bite from one of these angry snakes would put a damper on your hike.
Leopard Keelbacks are great swimmers, even in fast-flowing streams. They take advantage of aquatic plants as cover to sneak up on unwary frogs and fish.
Unlike most reptiles, female Leopard Keelbacks are viviparous. This means they give birth to live young! Birthing cycles coincide with rainy seasons to take advantage of flooding. When the young Leopard Keelbacks are born, they hitch a ride on floating plants to ensure a large range and distribution. How fun!
#19. Brown Vinesnake
- Oxybelis aeneus
Also known as Mexican Vine Snake, Pike-headed Tree Snake, Horse Whip
- Adults reach 190 cm (75 in) in length.
- They have incredibly slim bodies and long heads with narrow, pointed snouts.
- Gray or brown colors are common. Undersides are pale or yellow. The inside of the mouth is black.
Brown Vinesnakes in Bolivia are an arboreal species, living most of their lives in trees and shrubbery. You might find them in forested areas, hunting for prey when the sun is out. Their favorite meals are tree lizards, birds, frogs, and small rodents.
With slender, dark-colored bodies, Brown Vinesnakes are practically undetectable when camouflaged against twigs! This camouflage allows them to hide from predators. However, if confrontation can’t be avoided, these reptiles will open their ink-black mouths as a threat display.
The venom of the Brown Vinesnake is only effective against small prey. Humans, on the other hand, would have almost no symptoms aside from mild pain from the bite itself. Occasionally, these snakes may expel a foul order to dissuade attackers.
Please check out these guides to other animals found in Bolivia!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Bolivia?
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