Below you will learn about the types of snakes found in Jamaica.
Because of the geographic isolation of the islands, there are not as many snake species as you might expect here.
3 SNAKES that live in Jamaica:
#1. Jamaican Red Groundsnake
- Hypsirhynchus callilaemus
Found only on Jamaica.
- Small, slender snake.
- Tan to reddish brown base coloration with a darker brown or olive brown spot on the head.
- Usually, three darker lines, with one down the center of the back and one going through each eye and down the sides.
Locally in Jamaica, these snakes are also called Red Racerlets or Red Water Snakes. Despite the name, they are not water snakes, but they frequently fall into and become trapped in water catchments.
Jamaican Red Groundsnakes occupy forest habitats, open areas, and rural and urban gardens. They’re primarily diurnal and feed on lizards and frogs.
These snakes are non-venomous and don’t pose any threat to humans in Jamaica. Unfortunately, they are often killed and bottled in alcohol as a traditional pain remedy. Jamaican Red Groundsnakes are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
#2. Jamaican Boa
- Chilabothrus subflavus
Found only in Jamaica.
- Adults are often between 4 and 7.5 feet in length.
- They are golden green with black zigzag cross bars near their head and partway down their back, becoming black towards their tail.
- They have a thick body, and their head is distinct from their neck.
Jamaican Boas are largely arboreal and prefer tall forests and canopy-cover habitats. They rarely are found in open areas. Males seem to have larger ranges than females.
These boas are nocturnal, voracious, opportunistic foragers and typically feed on rats, birds, and their eggs. They hang from tree limbs and cave walls and snatch prey from the air. They constrict their prey before swallowing it whole.
Jamaican Boas have also been observed feeding on domestic poultry, mongooses, amphibians, and bats. Unfortunately, they consume poisonous cane toads, which were introduced to help lower the rat population. These toads are so poisonous that the snakes often die before the toad is even digested. In addition, researchers have observed crows and other birds mobbing larger Jamaican Boas.
Jamaican Boas are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. The populations of these snakes in Jamaica have declined significantly since the late 19th century. They have been impacted by the introduction of mongooses, human persecution, and habitat destruction. Researchers expect their populations to decline 20% over the next ten years and believe they are at risk of extinction in the wild. However, sizable populations exist in captivity in European and American breeding programs.
#3. Jamaican Blind Snake
- Typhlops jamaicensis
Due to their rarity, the above picture is not a Jamaican 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 Jamaica.
That’s because Jamaican 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 Jamaican 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 Jamaica. 🙂
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.