24 COMMON Snakes in Mexico! (2024)

Do you want to learn about the types of snakes in Mexico?

Types of snakes in Mexico

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 in Mexico that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂

You’ll see that the snakes in Mexico 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!

24 COMMON snakes in Mexico:


#1. Red Coffee Snake

  • Ninia sebae

Also known as the redback coffee snake or the red coffee snake.

Common Mexico snakes

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are up to 39 cm (15.4 in) long.
  • Their coloring is bright red with short black stripes and black and yellow markings on the head.
  • The head is flat, and the eyes are round and black.

Look for Red Coffee Snakes in Mexico in savannas, tropical forests, and agricultural areas.

You’ll often see this species on the ground, but they are partly arboreal, so you may notice one in a tree. They are most comfortable hunting on the ground for earthworms, snails, and slugs.

Red Coffee Snakes are not venomous, nor are they aggressive. To avoid predation, they tend to rely on their ability to conceal and intimidate and rarely resort to biting. If disturbed, they flatten their entire bodies or use a tactic of remaining motionless in the position they were discovered, so the threat will leave.


#2. Chicken Snake

  • Spilotes pullatus

Also known as the tiger rat snake, caninana, yellow rat snake, or serpiente tigre.

Common snakes found in Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 2.7 m (8.9 ft.)
  • This species’ color is yellow with irregular black crossbands and a yellow snout.
  • Their eyes are medium-sized with round pupils.

You can find this arboreal snake crawling through trees near water or forested areas. However, it can also be seen on the ground, especially while hunting. Expect to find the Chicken Snake in Mexico during the day since this diurnal species hunts in daylight.

Although Chicken Snakes are very territorial, they are not considered very aggressive. They often descend to the ground and hide in leaf litter if disturbed. If they’re forced to face a predator, they nod their heads and inflate their necks, increasing their size to intimidate the opponent. As a last resort, they strike to bite, even though they are non-venomous.


#3. Northern Cat-eyed Snake

  • Leptodeira septentrionalis

Snakes of Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 1 m (39 in) long. Females tend to be longer than males.
  • Their body has smooth scales, with dark brown lines or spots beside the eye and dark brown blotches that vary in pattern.
  • The head is wider than its neck and has large bulging eyes with reddish irises and light brown elliptical pupils.

The Northern Cat-eyed Snake is mostly arboreal and only active during the night. Therefore, it’s difficult to find them in the wild.

This species spends its active hours hunting for frogs and their eggs, especially the Red-eyed Tree frog. They are normally able to swallow their prey alive. But, when needed, they inject mild venom from their enlarged rear fangs to kill larger meals.

If threatened, the Northern Cat-eyed snake flattens its head and spreads its jaws to intimidate, but otherwise is not known to attack or bite people.


#4. Puffing Snake

  • Phrynonax poecilonotus

Also known as the bird snake, dos cocorite, and papa-ovo.

Types of snakes in Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow 1.8-2.7 m (70-107 in) long.
  • Their coloring varies: grey, yellow, orange, and lavender are all common.
  • This species’ eyes are medium to large, usually brown or golden, with a round black pupil.

Look for Puffing Snakes in the dense rainforests of Mexico.

This species is mostly arboreal, spending most of its time in treetops. However, it comes to the forest floor to hunt if food is more prevalent on the ground. They have a wide range of prey, including birds, small mammals, frogs, lizards, and insects. The Puffing snake is notorious for consuming bird eggs, which explains its other common name, the Bird Snake.

This species is not aggressive, but it will bite if disturbed. Even though it’s non-venomous, its bite can break the skin and should be avoided if possible. If you see a Puffing Snake in the wild, steer clear of it!


#5. Speckled Racer

  • Drymobius margaritiferus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 76-102 cm (30-40 in).
  • Their coloring is black with blue and yellow spots inside each scale.
  • The head of this species is rusty brown with a black patch behind the eyes.

Speckled Racers can adapt to a wide variety of areas such as forest edges, savannahs, humid lowlands, marshlands, forests, clearings, pastures, and even roadsides. Their unique coloring allows them to blend in well, regardless of their terrain. So, don’t be surprised to accidentally stumble upon this snake in Mexico!

Even though this species is non-venomous, it is very aggressive. Be careful because Speckled Racers are fast and agile, and they regularly bite in self-defense. Despite its aggressive nature, it’s content when left alone, so give it space and observe its beautiful coloring from a distance.


#6. Variable Coral Snake

  • Micrurus diastema

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 40-160 cm (16-63 in) long.
  • Their coloring is black, with yellow, red, and white bands. The first few bands on the head tend to be yellow or white, with red bands along the body and yellow or white bands on the tail.

The Variable Coral Snake inhabits tropical, moist, and wet woods but can also be encountered in dry forests. Like other coral snakes, this species is shy and secretive. They prefer to hunt at night and stay away from humans as much as possible.

Despite their shyness, this venomous species can be dangerous if threatened. Back away slowly, or you’ll risk a bite from its powerful fangs that deliver neurotoxic venom. Their fangs are designed to deliver a lot of venom even in a quick bite, which is what makes them so dangerous.

Death from a Variable Coral Snake is rare, but symptoms are unpleasant, including weakness, paralysis, difficulty breathing, and swelling. So be cautious around this species!


#7. Black-banded Cat-eyed Snake

  • Leptodeira nigrofasciata

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 75 cm (30 in) long.
  • Their coloring is black with white or yellow stripes. Unlike other cat-eyed snakes, this species does not have spots.
  • They have very slender bodies, and their large eyes have elliptical pupils.

The Black-banded Cat-eyed Snake prefers forests and clearings but is also comfortable in urbanized areas with nearby vegetation. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find this snake in Mexico near parks, suburban backyards, and industrial developments.

Even though it might be nearby, you’ll likely have difficulty finding a Black-banded Cat-eyed Snake. This species is exclusively nocturnal, hunting frogs, skinks, toads, and lizards under the cover of darkness.

Their venom is effective at neutralizing and killing their prey, but it’s mild and not harmful to humans. Furthermore, they rarely bite humans, even if handled, preferring to wait until they’re released and slither away. If you are bitten, symptoms include swelling and irritation that can be relieved with a mild painkiller.


#8. Blood Snake

  • Stenorrhina freminvillei

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 65 cm (26 in) long.
  • Their coloring can be red, brownish, or yellow. In addition, some individuals have black vertical stripes across their whole bodies.
  • Their eyes are round, medium-sized, and have round pupils.

The Blood Snake in Mexico has an unbelievable favorite food: Scorpions!

This small, unassuming snake has a big appetite and often dines on dangerous creatures. In addition to scorpions, Blood Snakes also eat spiders, grasshoppers, and crickets.

Look for this species at high elevations of 2,800 m (9,200 ft) or above in savannas and forests. Additionally, there are many sightings of Blood Snakes near agricultural areas, where they find insects in the churned soil.

Blood Snakes are non-venomous and nocturnal, which means they rarely pose a problem to humans. The worst they can do is startle you on a nighttime hike! 🙂


#9. Central American Indigo Snake

  • Drymarchon melanurus

Also known as the blacktail cribo.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1.80-2.40 m (6-8 ft) in total length.
  • Their coloring is a glossy olive-brown that fades to black towards the tail.
  • The abdomen is yellow to tan. Occasionally they are solid black all over.

The Central American Indigo Snake is mostly terrestrial and prefers forests for its habitat. Look for this snake in Mexico, anywhere with plenty of ground cover for it to hide.

Although it’s non-venomous, the Central American Indigo Snake is highly predatory and opportunistic. It won’t hesitate to hunt just about anything, including bird and reptile eggs, fish, snakes, frogs, birds, and small mammals.

When it comes to humans, this species is more likely to flee or hide than confront you. Since it isn’t venomous, you don’t need to worry about danger. However, it’s best to leave the Central American Indigo Snake alone and give it a respectful amount of space.


#10. Central American Milksnake

  • Lampropeltis abnorma

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult sizes are highly variable, 36-183 cm (14-72 in) long.
  • They have smooth and shiny scales, and their coloring is alternating bands of red-black-yellow or white-black-red.

The Central American Milksnake is usually found in forested regions. However, it’s possible to encounter them in areas such as prairie, swamps, farmland, and rocky slopes. This snake is primarily nocturnal, especially during the summer.

Unlike most snakes in Mexico, this species migrates seasonally.

During the winter, they move to drier habitats to hibernate, then move to moist habitats when summer comes. The hibernation period for the Central American Milksnake starts in October or November and lasts until the middle of April.

Their venom isn’t dangerous to humans, and they are considered docile. Because of this, they’re often kept as pets. Unfortunately, their numbers are slightly declined due to harvesting for the pet trade, but they are still plentiful in their range.


#11. Mexican Parrot Snake

  • Leptophis mexicanus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 172 cm (68 in) long.
  • This species has a slender-looking body that’s smooth with shiny scales. The eyes are big and yellow with round black pupils.
  • The Mexican Parrot Snake exhibits vivid colors, usually green and white on the abdomen, with a yellow stripe across its body length.

Look for this snake in Mexico in tropical forests, agricultural areas, and near humans.

Mexican Parrot Snakes often choose places near a water source. You might need to look in the trees for one. This species is partly arboreal and an excellent climber, able to camouflage between the green leaves on the trees. However, they are adaptable and hunt on the ground as well.

Mexican Parrot Snakes are non-venomous and have a high tolerance for human disturbance. They aren’t aggressive, even if disturbed or threatened. Their defensive action is to open their mouths to intimidate the opponent, but they rarely resort to biting.


#12. Neotropical Whip Snake

  • Masticophis mentovarius

Also known as Sabanera.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 180-252 cm (6-8 ft) in total length.
  • Their coloring is off-white, brown, or gray. They have transverse blotches and dark, narrow stripes across the body.
  • This species’ eyes are light brown or golden, with round pupils.

Neotropical Whip Snakes in Mexico prefer open areas. So, look for this species in forest edges, savannas, mangroves, and beaches. They’re primarily terrestrial, although they can sometimes be seen in trees and shrubs. Your best bet is to focus on the ground. This thin, long species is easy to mistake for a fallen vine.

This species is non-venomous, but if disturbed, it is known to bite. Despite being relatively low-risk to humans, you shouldn’t underestimate the Neotropical Whip Snake! It’s famous for its incredible speed and highly alert hunting style. This adaptable predator most often hunts lizards, other snakes, and small mammals.


#13. Small-spotted Cat-eyed Snake

  • Leptodeira polysticta

Also known as Escombrera de Günther.

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Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 87 cm (34 in) long.
  • Their coloring is golden brown, brown, or greenish, with black spots across its body.
  • The eyes of this species are big in proportion to its head, with elliptical pupils.

The Small-spotted Cat-eyed Snake can mostly be seen in forested areas in Mexico. However, the type of forest varies widely, and they are found from mountainous evergreens to lowland deciduous trees!

This species is nocturnal and mostly hunts during the night hours. Likely prey includes frogs, frog eggs, lizards, and salamanders.

Their venom has very low toxicity, only strong enough to subdue their small prey. Therefore, it doesn’t pose any health risks to humans. However, if a Small-spotted Cat-eyed Snake bites you, you may notice some redness or irritation at the bite. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help.


#14. Mexican Bull Snake

  • Pituophis deppei

Also known as the Mexican Pine Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 1.69 m (5.5 ft) long.
  • Their coloring is yellowish tan, with a series of large rectangular blotches, which are dark brown to black.
  • The eyes are medium-sized with round pupils.

Look for Mexican Bull Snakes in forests, grassland, and shrubland, where they spend their time hunting on the ground. They also frequent agricultural developments, suburban yards, and even urban areas. This species is used to people and is typically not a biting risk. It’s non-venomous as well.

The Mexican Bull Snake is docile and timid, preferring to remain motionless to hide in the face of danger. If the threat doesn’t move on, its next defensive action is to intimidate. It puffs its body while hissing and retreating to make space for escape.

However, if both of these strategies fail, it will bite as a last resort. So if you see one of these common, docile snakes, the best thing to do is observe it quietly and move on, leaving it undisturbed.


#15. Black-tailed Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus molossus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 76-107 cm (30-42 in) long. The females are usually larger than the males.
  • Their coloring is a mix of olive green, yellow, black, and brown. The tail is entirely black, which is where the common name comes from.
  • They have a black band across their eyes, which looks like a mask.

Look for Black-tailed Rattlesnakes in Mexico in grasslands, deserts, and forests.

This species is mostly a terrestrial snake, although it is also known to be a great swimmer. It likes to avoid the heat, so it’s mostly active at night during summer. In the spring and fall, you’re likely to see one during the day, while in the winter months, they hibernate in abandoned mammal dens.

This highly venomous snake is drawn to the body heat of its prey using special organs in its head called “pits.” Black-tailed Rattlesnakes hunt birds, small reptiles, rodents, and other small mammals. When they sense the heat coming from these small creatures, they move quickly to strike and inject venom. Then, when the animal is subdued, they eat its prey whole.


#16. Rainforest Hog-nosed Viper

  • Porthidium nasutum

Also known as Hognosed Pit Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 40-60 cm (16-24 in) long. The females tend to be relatively larger than the males.
  • The body is stout, with a triangular-shaped head and a short, thin tail. They have an upturned snout.
  • Their coloring is shades of brown with alternating cream and dark brown rectangular marks on the back.

As its name suggests, this species is most often found in rainforests. The Rainforest Hog-nosed Viper is a terrestrial species and, due to its color, is difficult to spot in the jungle foliage.

In addition to its camouflage, you’ll have trouble spotting a Rainforest Hog-nosed Viper because it’s nocturnal. During the nighttime, it hunts frogs, lizards, small mammals, small birds, and other snakes.

Use extreme caution when you’re in this species’ territory. It’s a highly venomous viper, and if a bite goes untreated, it can cause death in humans. Unfortunately, Rainforest Hog-Nosed Vipers frequently pass through plantations and sometimes enter gardens, so bite incidents are not uncommon.

If you receive a bite from one of these snakes in Mexico, get treatment right away.

The symptoms are painful, often severe, and can last days. Redness and pain around the bite, nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing, low heart rate, and vision problems are all common symptoms. Avoid this dangerous snake if possible!


#17. Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus atrox

Common Snakes species in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically grow to about 1.2 m (4 ft) in length.
  • Coloration ranges from brown, gray, brick red, pinkish, and chalky white. Look for the darker diamond-shaped blotches down its back, outlined by white scales.
  • Broad, spade-shaped head with a black mask over the eyes. Elliptical pupils and pits between eyes and nostrils.
  • A rattle on the tail alternates between black and white-colored bands.

This famous VENOMOUS snake has a wide range of habitats in Mexico!

You might spot them in deserts, grassy plains, forested areas, coastal prairies, rocky hillsides, and river bottoms. But your best chance to see one might be on a rural road in the evening because of the heat the pavement retains.

The Western Diamond-backed feeds on small mammals such as squirrels, chipmunks, gophers, prairie dogs, rabbits, mice, and rats. They also consume birds that fly within reach. Like other pit vipers, they ambush their prey and track them while the venom takes effect.

If you hear their characteristic rattle, make sure to leave the area slowly! Due to their specialized fangs and large venom glands, these snakes can deliver a lot of venom in a single bite! Untreated bites have a 10 – 20% mortality rate, so make sure to get to the hospital quickly if struck!

When threatened, these snakes typically stand their ground. They rattle and coil, lifting themselves off the ground to prepare to strike.

YouTube video

#18. Black-necked Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis cyrtopsis

black necked garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Western Black-necked Garter Snakes are dark olive with an orange-yellow stripe down the back and a yellow-to-white stripe down each side. It can be up to 107 cm (42 in) long.
  • Eastern Black-necked Garter Snakes are smaller and only grow up to 51 cm (20 in) in length. They have a checkered pattern of black and yellow on their body between their three stripes.
  • Both subspecies have a gray head, contrasting strongly with the body. In addition, there is a dark blotch on each side of the neck.

This species is found in many habitats, including desert scrub, plains, arid grasslands, and pine-oak woodlands. However, they’re almost always associated with water sources such as streams, ciénegas, and cattle tanks.

There are two subspecies of this snake: the Western AND Eastern. They look different (see photo above), but they also behave uniquely. The Western subspecies (Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis) is most often found in the water. The Eastern (Thamnophis cyrtopsis ocellatus) subspecies prefers to live on DRY LAND very close to water.

The Black-necked Garter Snake’s preferred prey is frogs, toads, and tadpoles, including poisonous species like the Sonoran Desert Toad. However, they have been known to feed on a wide range of other prey, including earthworms, skinks, salamanders, crustaceans, and birds.


#19. Cloudy Snail-eating Snake

  • Sibon nebulatus

Also known as Slug-eating Snake, Cloudy Snail Sucker, Clouded Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Mexico 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. So instead, they’ll secrete a foul odor to defend themselves against attackers.

YouTube video

#20. Eyelash Viper

  • Bothriechis schlegelii

Also known as Eyelash Pit Viper, Eyelash Palm Viper, Schlegel’s Viper, Eyelash Lancehead, Eyelash Mountain Viper, Horned Palm Viper, Parrot Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are generally 55-82 cm (22-32 in) long.
  • Their heads are broad and triangular.
  • Coloration depends on habitat. These include bright yellow, green, orange, or pink. You might also see dark speckles dotted all over the body.

Look for this small snake in Mexico in forests and woodlands.

The fancy-looking Eyelash Viper earned its name from the pair of modified scales above its eyes which resemble eyelashes. A myth tells of this viper winking at its victims after biting them. But, of course, snakes don’t have eyelids, so they can’t actually wink!

Did you know that Eyelash Vipers are resourceful creatures? To hydrate, they drink the water droplets that gather on leaves. In addition, they use their tails to grab onto branches, positioning themselves to hunt rodents, lizards, and small birds at night.

Eyelash Vipers are generally docile but will strike in defense if threatened. They’re moderately venomous, and while there are no recorded human deaths, their bites can still be very painful. So be careful if you happen to find one!

YouTube video

#21. Giant Parrot Snake

  • Leptophis ahaetulla

Also known as Parrot Snake, Lora.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Mexico’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.

YouTube video

 

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 in daylight, taking down small birds and tree lizards with aggressive agility. Occasionally, if food is scarce, they are known to cannibalize each other.


#22. Central American Boa

  • Boa imperator

Also known as Boa Constrictor Imperator, Common Northern Boa, Colombian Boa.

Credit (left image): Hersson Ramírez, (right image): Esteban Alzate, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These large reptiles are generally 130-250 cm (51-98 in) long.
  • Female boas are much larger than males.
  • You might notice a dark streak that extends from their eyes to the back of their jaws.

The Central American Boa prefers humid rainforests but occasionally inhabits drier environments like savannas. It is a stealthy hunter, slow-moving and well-camouflaged. At dusk, it ambushes birds, lizards, and smaller mammals, constricting them until they stop breathing.

As one of the most territorial snakes in Mexico, this species lives most of its life in isolation.

The only time Central American Boas interact with each other is to breed.

If you encounter one in the wild, remember that it won’t hesitate to strike you repeatedly in rapid succession. Even though they aren’t venomous, their bites can still hurt. Watch your step!

These snakes are quite popular as pets because of their striking patterns and lack of venom. In addition, some snake keepers breed them to produce unique-colored morphs. You might even find a Central American Boa that’s entirely white.


#23. Common Blunt-headed Tree Snake

  • Imantodes cenchoa

Also known as Fiddle-string Snake, Neotropical Blunthead Treesnake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Mexico. 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.

YouTube video

 

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.


#24. Terciopelo (Fer-de-lance)

  • Bothrops asper

Identifying Characteristics:

  • On average, these vipers are 120-180 cm (47-71 in) long.
  • Terciopelos have wide, flat heads.
  • Females can grow up to 10 times larger than males.
  • They range from brown to gray. Patterns include dark spots and stripes that form triangles along the body.

The Terciopelo, also referred to as a Fer-de-lance, is a venomous species in tropical rainforests and lowlands. They have a fierce reputation and are responsible for many of the snakebites that occur in Mexico. Unfortunately, they also have large fangs and an exceptionally high venom yield. This snake is impressive but terrifying and has been nicknamed “the ultimate pit viper”!

Tercipelos are patient predators. It will disguise itself among leaf litter for long periods, then bite swiftly once prey comes in range.

The venom of a Terciopelo is dangerously potent. Unfortunate victims can experience fevers, internal bleeding, and even death in extreme cases. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you’ve been bitten. If the Terciopelo is cornered, it will strike faster than you can react. So always keep a respectful distance!


Check out these guides to other animals found in Mexico!


Which of these snakes have you seen before in Mexico?

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