Below you will learn about the types of snakes found in Dominica.
Because of the geographic isolation of the islands, there are not as many snake species as you might expect here.
4 SNAKES that live in Dominica:
#1. Dominican Racer
- Alsophis sibonius
Found only on Dominica.
- Adults may reach up to 3.3 feet in length.
- Their base coloration is very dark brown or black.
- They have large oval white spots that may fuse to form a line near their head but fade away completely toward their tail.
Dominican Racers are found in various habitats in Dominica, including deciduous forests, rainforests, rainforest edges, mangrove edges, coastal scrub, mountain pastures, orchards, and plantations. They prefer areas with a high density of rocks.
These snakes are primarily diurnal and most active in the late morning and afternoon. They primarily feed on lizards, especially anoles, but also consume other vertebrates, including frogs, rodents, birds, and other snakes. They don’t typically bite humans, but they usually release a foul-smelling secretion from their cloaca if grabbed.
The Dominican Racer is listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. Despite this, they have lost significant numbers and have been extirpated from some areas of their former range. In addition, they face threats from habitat loss, human persecution, and the introduction of predators like black rats and mongooses.
#2. Julia’s Ground Snake
- Erythrolamprus juliae
Found only on Dominica.
- Adults may reach 20 inches in length.
- Coloration is typically glossy black with white or yellowish flecks or checkering.
- Individuals at higher elevations may be uniformly dark-colored.
Julia’s Ground Snake is named for Julia Cope Collins (1866–1959), the only child of American Herpetologist Edward Drinker Cope, who described the species in 1879. These snakes are found in various habitats in Dominica, except for those in the highest elevations.
As their name suggests, Julia’s Ground Snakes are primarily a terrestrial species and feed on lizards, frogs, and insects. They’re harmless to humans but may release a foul-smelling cloacal secretion if grabbed.
Julia’s Ground Snakes are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List. This is because they’re threatened by mongooses that were introduced to the islands.
#3. Clouded Boa Constrictor
- Boa nebulosa
Found only on Dominica.
- Adults may reach lengths of over 10 feet.
- Coloration ranges from tan to grayish-brown or dark brown with 23 to 35 rectangular or irregular dark saddle patches.
- Their patterning often appears increasingly washed out up their body but is distinct near their tail though some individuals may be more uniformly dark.
Clouded Boas are the largest snakes in Dominica.
They can be found in woodland and montane forests, scrub and vegetated cliff faces. Less often, they’re observed in disturbed areas, such as along the edges of banana fields.
These snakes’ Latin name, “nebulosa,” refers to their nebula-like patterning. Interestingly they possess the most saddle patches of any boa constrictor species.
Clouded Boas are mainly nocturnal and somewhat arboreal, meaning they spend much of their nights in trees. They prey on various small vertebrates, including rats, bats, agoutis, iguanas, and chickens. During the day, they often seek shelter in rock piles, hollow logs, tree roots, or other natural or human debris.
Some researchers have reported observing Clouded Boas in pairs or groups, but this may have been during the breeding season. Clouded Boas give birth to litters of live young, which are more brightly patterned than adults.
They are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. Adult Clouded Boas have few natural predators but are sometimes hunted by humans for medicinal oil and hit by cars. However, some researchers are concerned about the future impacts of habitat destruction and climate change on the species.
#4. Dominican Blind Snake
- Antillotyphlops dominicanus
Due to their rarity, the above picture is not a Dominican Blind Snake, although it looks very similar.
- Adults are 5.1-10.2 cm (2-4 in) long.
- The body shape is worm-like, and they are easily mistaken for earthworms.
It is really hard to see these SMALL snakes in Dominica.
That’s because Dominican Blind Snakes spend the majority of their life underground. To find one, you typically must look in moist soil and under logs and stones. Even then, these snakes are so small they are easy to miss.
Because Dominican Blind Snakes spend most of their life underground, they don’t have very good eyesight. Take one look at them, and you will notice they look more like small worms than the other snakes that live in Dominica. 🙂
There isn’t a lot known about their abundance, ecology, or distribution due to their secretive nature. But their main source of food tends to be the larvae of ants and termites.
Despite its rather creepy appearance, this snake is completely harmless to humans.