Do you want to learn about the types of snakes in French Guiana?
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 French Guiana that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂
You’ll see that the snakes in French Guiana 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!
10 types of snakes in French Guiana:
#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 French Guiana 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 French Guiana. 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 French Guiana.
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 French Guiana 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. 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 French Guiana 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.
#6. 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.
#7. 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 French Guiana!
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!
#8. Cloudy Snail-eating Snake
- Sibon nebulatus
Also known as Slug-eating Snake, Cloudy Snail Sucker, Clouded Snake
- Not bigger than 71 cm (28 in), these snakes can fit in the palm of your hand.
- They have wide heads and large eyes, and their tails are more slender towards the tip.
- Coloration is usually gray or brown, patterned with dark bands and spots.
The humid forests of French Guiana are home to Cloudy Snail-Eaters. Pay attention to the forest floor, where these tiny snakes crawl along the carpet of dead leaves at night. They’re especially active after a good rain.
Cloudy Snail-Eating Snakes are quite crafty hunters and have a perfect system to catch a meal! First, they track down the scent of their favorite prey. Then, when they catch one, they’ll drag the snail until its shell gets stuck between rocks. Finally, they’ll pull the soft body out and swallow their prize.
Cloudy Snail-Eaters are a non-venomous species. and they’re too small to cause serious damage when biting. Instead, they’ll secrete a foul odor to defend themselves against attackers.
#9. 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 French Guiana’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.
#10. 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 French Guiana 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!
Please check out these guides to other animals found in French Guiana!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in French Guiana?
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