46 Types of Snakes Found on the Caribbean Islands!
Below you will learn about the types of snakes found in the Caribbean.
As you will see, because of the geographic isolation of the islands, many of the snakes are endemic to only one or a few specific locations.
The species in the Caribbean 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. You will find out how to identify each snake correctly, along with pictures and interesting facts. 🙂
46 SNAKES that live in the Caribbean:
#1. Southern Bahamas Boa
- Chilabothrus chrysogaster
Also known as the Turks and Caicos Islands Boa, Bahamas Cat Boa, Rainbow Snake, Fowl Snake, or Rainbow Boa.
Found on the Turks and Caicos Islands.
- Adults average 32 inches in length, but individuals up to 70 inches have been recorded.
- Adults are typically gray and dark brown and may be seen in one of three color phases; spotted, striped, or patternless.
- Spotted morphs appear to be the most common and feature varying amounts of irregular blotches, which vary in shade, while striped phase snakes have four darker stripes, two down their back and one down each side.
Southern Bahamas Boas are typically found in tropical dry forests or scrubland with high amounts of large flat rocks. They’re nocturnal, hiding under rocks during the day, and like other boas, are non-venomous. They actively forage for lizards, birds, and rodents to find food. These snakes are relatively long-lived; a few captive individuals have reached 27 years of age.
Unfortunately, these beautiful snakes face several threats and are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List. The primary threat is predation from domestic cats, which have been introduced to the islands where the snakes live.
Southern Bahamas Boas are also persecuted and killed by humans who often believe them to be venomous, harmful, or even demonic. Lastly, these snakes face habitat loss as the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands rapidly develop. Scientists believe that they have already been extirpated from parts of their former range.
#2. Ambergris Cay Dwarf Boa
- Tropidophis greenwayi
Found on the Turks and Caicos Islands.
- Adult males average about 8.9 inches, while females are typically between 9.8 and 10.4 inches in length though individuals up to 15 inches have been recorded.
- Color and pattern vary, but adults typically feature a grayish-tan body with a darker head and two rows of dark brown blotches outlined in lighter gray down their back.
- They have an orange tail tip.
These small snakes are only found in the Caicos Islands.
Ambergris Cay Dwarf Boas are relatively shy, secretive snakes. Their specific name (greenwayi) honors James Cowan Greenway, an American ornithologist with a similar reputation for reclusiveness whose work was instrumental in bird conservation.
Ambergris Cay Dwarf Boas are typically found in rocky, limestone areas. Like other boas, they are nonvenomous. They may actively hunt prey or use a technique called caudal luring. Using this method, they lay motionless in leaf litter or loose sand with their bright orange tail sticking out and moving. The tips are mistaken for an insect by their prey.
Their diets consist primarily of anoles and geckos. Once their prey is close, Ambergris Cay Dwarf Boas seize and constrict it.
Unfortunately, Ambergris Cay Dwarf Boas are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Introduced predators, including cats, rats, dogs, and mongooses, have had a serious impact. Heavy commercial collections in the 1960s and 1970s also caused declines, especially on the smaller islands. Today, one of the biggest threats they face is habitat loss due to commercial development for tourism.
#3. Anguilla Bank Racer
- Alsophis rijgersmaei
Also known as the Leeward Islands Racer.
Found on Anguilla.
- The largest documented adult was 54.3 inches in length.
- They are slender snakes with heads that are narrower than their bodies and iridescent bellies.
- Coloration varies from light gray and dark brown to occasionally black, with brown being the most common.
These snakes are endemic to Anguilla.
Anguilla Bank Racers are primarily an undergrowth species, which helps them remain undetected by American Kestrels, one of their primary predators. They have been found from the seasides to the highest summits. The availability of prey and hiding places are the most important in determining habitat suitability.
Anguilla Bank Racers are mainly diurnal but can occasionally be seen at night. They’re primarily terrestrial, but it’s common to find them in trees, bushes, or steep rock faces. They feed on reptiles, amphibians, chicks, and small rodents. Depending on the size of the prey, they may swallow it whole or constrict it or kill it with envenomation before ingesting it. When threatened, they remain motionless or flee into a nearby hiding spot.
Sadly, Anguilla Bank Racers are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. They have proved extremely susceptible to the introduction of the mongoose and have been extirpated from parts of their former range. They also face threats from human persecution and habitat loss from development and overgrazing.
#4. Antiguan Racer
- Alsophis antiguae
Found on Antigua and Dominica.
- Adults are typically about 39 inches long, with females larger than males.
- Young adult males are usually dark brown with light creamy markings, while young adult females are usually silver-gray with pale brown markings.
- Older snakes of both sexes may vary widely in color and pattern and are often heavily speckled or blotched in white, taupe, black, brown, or reddish brown.
Antiguan Racers are among the rarest snakes in the world!
They prefer to live in shady woodlands with dense undergrowth but may occasionally be spotted on beaches and rocky outcrops. They’re a rear-fanged species and are harmless to humans.
Antiguan Racers are diurnal and spend their nights hidden in sheltered spots. They hunt during the day, feeding primarily on lizards. While they occasionally actively hunt, Antiguan Racers are generally ambush predators, hiding in the leaf litter until their prey is close enough to strike.
Sadly, these snakes are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. At one time, these snakes probably inhabited all the islands of the Antiguan Bank, but research in the 1990s found them only occurring on Great Bird Island.
Their populations plummeted as European settlers developed the islands into plantations and introduced black rats, which feed on the Antiguan Racer’s eggs. In addition, mongooses, which were also introduced, eat the racers too.
In the last 20 years, conservation efforts and a reintroduction to other islands have been successful, increasing their estimated population from about 50 to 1,100 individuals. Unfortunately, Antiguan Racers still face threats from hurricanes and other climate-related threats, low genetic diversity, limited prey numbers, and human persecution.
#5. Baker’s Cat-eyed Snake
- Leptodeira bakeri
Found on Aruba.
- Adults are typically tan or light brown with 15 to 24 large, dark brown blotches down their backs.
- Their head is distinct from their neck, and they have large eyes with vertically elliptic pupils.
Known locally as ‘Santanero,’ Baker’s Cat-eyed Snakes are typically found in the forest underbrush but may also be seen in gardens and backyards.
These snakes are nocturnal. During the day, they hide in sheltered spots in the brush or beneath stones. They hunt at night and feed on insects and small animals, including cockroaches, small lizards, mice, frogs, and occasionally toads. They are often observed near lagoons feeding on the high density of frogs.
Baker’s Cat-eyed Snakes are not aggressive, but they can release a foul-smelling secretion when handled. But you need to be careful around them. They have mild venom, which they use to help subdue prey. Their venom isn’t fatal to humans but can cause bone and muscle aches.
#6. Aruba Island Rattlesnake
- Crotalus unicolor
Found on Aruba.
- Adults average about 3 feet in length.
- Adults are heavy-bodied with triangular heads, heat-sensing pits below their nostrils, and rattle-tipped tails.
- Their coloration usually ranges from light pink to dark tan, and they have diamond-shaped markings down their backs that range from barely discernible white or rust to dark brown or blue-gray.
Aruba Island Rattlesnakes inhabit Aruba’s undisturbed sandy, rocky, and arid hillsides.
You can look for these snakes on terraced mountainsides with dry stream beds and igneous rock.
They hunt rodents, birds, and lizards using sight, smell, and their heat-sensing pits to locate prey. Then, they strike and inject venom into their prey, killing it and swallowing their victim whole by unhinging their lower jaw.
Aruba Island Rattlesnakes only bite humans when provoked. But if you are bitten, you must immediately seek medical attention. They are extremely venomous, and their bite can be life-threatening.
Aruba Island Rattlesnakes are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, with about 230 snakes believed to be left in the wild. Development for tourism and aloe cultivation, feral goats, and the charcoal and firewood industries have greatly reduced available habitat. Recently, conversation efforts have helped improve these rattlesnakes’ public image and helped establish the Arikok National Park.
#7. Grand Cayman Racer
- Cubophis caymanus
Found on the Cayman Islands.
- Adults average 2 to 3 feet in length but may grow to 5 feet or more.
- Their coloration is typically reddish brown but may vary from light to dark brown or gray with a pale or pink underside.
- Their scales may be black-edged or black-tipped, and they may have pink scales flecked on their sides and black spots that include one to several scales on their backs.
Grand Cayman Racers get their name from their slender bodies and fast-moving nature. They feed on frogs, lizards, and juvenile iguanas. Large individuals have been known to occasionally prey on green iguanas. They have venom that helps them subdue their prey.
Luckily for us, their venom is weak and harmless to humans. While they can bite, these snakes typically flee when threatened. If cornered, they flatten their heads to intimidate predators. If grabbed, they may excrete a foul-smelling chemical in hopes you drop them!
Grand Cayman Racers are killed by crabs, birds, cars, and people who mistake them for dangerous snakes. Grand Cayman Racers are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. They are protected under the National Conservation Law.
#8. Cayman Islands Dwarf Boa
- Tropidophis caymanensis
Found on the Cayman Islands.
- Adults are usually 1 to 2 feet in length.
- Adults may be pale to light or dark brown and have dark diamond patterning down their backs.
- They have a pale cream or yellow tail tip.
Nicknamed the “lazy snake” or the “friendly snake,” these boas are very slow-moving and docile. As a result, they are completely harmless to humans. Unfortunately, with their diamond patterning and yellow tail tip, which can superficially resemble a rattle, people often mistake them for rattlesnakes and kill them.
Cayman Islands Dwarf Boas are nocturnal and predominantly terrestrial. They prey on small vertebrates, particularly frogs and lizards. Interestingly, these snakes are known to have the ability to alter their color throughout the day. Their coloration tends to lighten during active nighttime hours and darken when resting during the day.
You’re most likely to see these snakes out near dawn or dusk after a rain. If threatened, Cayman Islands Dwarf Boas have an incredible defense mechanism. They are able to produce blood in their eyes, mouth, and nostrils!
Cayman Islands Dwarf Boas are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss.
#9. Caribbean Water Snake
- Tretanorhinus variabilis
Found on the Cayman Islands and Cuba.
- Adults average 23.6 inches long from snout to vent.
- Adults’ coloration may be gray to dark olive brown or black, and they may have blackish-brown crossbars on their backs.
- Their gray to black undersides may feature sparsely scattered cream-colored patches.
Caribbean Water Snakes are mostly aquatic. They are typically only observed on land after heavy rains, moving from one body of water to the next. Unlike sea snakes, Caribbean Water Snakes only inhabit fresh, brackish, or saline ponds. As they can tolerate some salt water, scientists have posited that this species may have arrived on the islands long ago with flotsam or floating debris during storms.
These nonvenomous snakes are harmless to humans and spend much of their time buried in the mud at the bottom of ponds. They may occasionally be observed surfacing for oxygen or swimming along the surface. Caribbean Water Snakes feed primarily on crustaceans, frogs, and small fish.
Caribbean Water Snakes are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.
#10. Cuban Racer
- Cubophis cantherigerus
Found on Cuba.
These brown and grayish snakes can be found in Cuba in many habitats, from pristine forests to human-altered areas. They’re primarily terrestrial but may climb trees up to 32 feet up.
Cuban Racers are diurnal and feed on various vertebrates, including frogs, lizards, turtles, other snakes, birds, and mammals. They have occasionally been known to feed on the chicks of domestic poultry.
Cuban Racers are fast-moving and typically flee from threats. If cornered, these snakes put on a cobra-like display by lifting the front third of their body, flattening their head, and opening their mouth. If grabbed, they try to rotate quickly, struggle intensely, and often release their foul-smelling scent glands and may bite.
Interestingly, there have been a few documented cases of these snakes using a body-bending defense when approached. They contort their body into small bends and flatten themselves dorsoventrally. In this position, they look very similar to the Monkey Ladder Vine (Bauhinia glabra), a native Cuban vine with a peculiar, flattened, bent stem. Monkey Ladder Vine stems are usually grayish or brown, just like these snakes.
Cuban Racers are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
#11. Cuban Tree Boa
- Chilabothrus angulifer
Found on Cuba.
- Adults typically average about 12 feet in length, but the largest individual recorded was 18.5 feet long.
- Coloration is yellow-brown to dark brown with staggered, dark brown, or black rhombic spots on their back and sides.
- They may appear shiny, especially if they have recently molted.
The Cuban Tree Boa is the largest snake in Cuba!
These massive snakes, also called Cuban Boas, inhabit various types of forests, including cloud forests, rainforests, evergreen forests, coastal scrub forests, thorn forests, and semi-deciduous forests. They can be found at elevations from sea level up to 3,983 ft. They are semi-arboreal and surprisingly skilled climbers.
These snakes are apex predators in Cuba. Depending on an individual’s size, age, and health, they may take various prey, including frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, aquatic birds, raptors, domestic poultry, forest birds, bats, rabbits, hutias, rats, and pigs.
Male Cuban Tree Boas mate yearly and may fight other males for females. Females breed every other year and give birth to up to 22 live young in the fall. Young males reach reproductive maturity at three years, while females reach maturity at five. In the wild, these snakes have been known to live for more than 30 years and still reproduce.
Cuban Tree Boas are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
#12. Cuban Dwarf Boa
- Tropidophis melanurus
Also known as the Cuban Wood Snake, Dusky Dwarf Boa, or the Cuban Giant Dwarf Boa.
Found on Cuba.
- Adults typically range from 32 to 39 inches in length.
- Their coloration is typically tan, reddish brown, or brown, and they may have darker markings.
The Cuban Dwarf Boa can be found in Cuba from sea level to elevations up to 4242 feet.
They are nocturnal and feed on lizards and amphibians by constriction. If threatened, they may ball up and release a foul-smelling cloacal discharge or auto-hemorrhage, meaning that they produce blood from their eyes, nose, and mouth.
Cuban Dwarf Boas are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
#13. Cuban Lesser Racer
- Caraiba andreae
Found on Cuba.
- Adults may grow up to 25.8 inches long.
- They have black backs with yellow spots on each side and white on their upper lip.
- They have a white underside with black markings.
Also known as the Black and White Racer, these snakes occupy scrubland and forest habitats up to 3600 feet of elevation. They are nonvenomous and harmless to humans. Cuban Lesser Racers typically feed on frogs and small lizards such as anoles.
Despite being one of the most common snakes in Cuba, they haven’t been well studied. Breeding and subsequent hatching appear to occur during the summer rainy season. Some observations indicated that one parent might guard the clutch.
The Cuban Lesser Racer is listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
#14. Oriente Brown-capped Racerlet
- Arrhyton redimitum
Found on Cuba.
- Adults average about 7 inches in length.
- Coloration is typically brownish-gray and lighter beneath.
- The crown is covered by a large liver-brown spot, with three dark lines extending down its body and tail.
Their scientific name “redimitum” is derived from the Latin “redimiculum,” meaning headband, which refers to their distinctive head marking.
Oriente Brown-capped Racerlets are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
#15. Three-scaled Ground Snake
- Erythrolamprus triscalis
Found on Curaçao.
- Their coloration is typically tan or light brown with darker brown lines and markings.
Three-scaled Ground Snakes are a member of a genus of snakes known as “false coral snakes.” Many members of the genus are believed to have coloration that mimics the coloration of venomous coral snakes.
These snakes feed on large insects, mice, small rats, and lizards. They constrict and kill their prey before swallowing it whole. After a good meal, these snakes sometimes remain immobile for up to two weeks.
Three-scaled Ground Snakes are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
#16. Dominican Racer
- Alsophis sibonius
Found 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, 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.
#17. Julia’s Ground Snake
- Erythrolamprus juliae
Found 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.
#18. Clouded Boa Constrictor
- Boa nebulosa
Found 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 on 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.
#19. Grenada Bank Boa
- Corallus grenadensis
Also known as the Grenada Tree Boa or the Grenada Bank Tree Boa.
Found on Grenada and St. Vincent.
- Adults may grow 5.3 feet long from snout to vent and have a narrow head and slender body.
- Coloration varies widely depending on location and may be brown, taupe, gray, yellowish, or orange.
- They typically have darker rhomboid or mushroom-shaped patches with rounded or well-defined edges, though, in some areas, they are patternless or near patternless.
The Grenada Bank Boa has been found in the Caribbean from sea level to 1,723 feet of elevation. They occupy various habitats, including forests, rainforests, mangroves, and vine and thorny shrubbery. They also use non-native tree plantations like mango and nutmeg, which are found in forest edges and patches near heavily disturbed human habitats and agricultural areas.
Grenada Bank Boas are nocturnal and do almost all their hunting before midnight. They aren’t typically active during heavy rainfall. They feed primarily on lizards but also prey on iguanas, mice, rats, and small birds. Like all boas, they constrict their prey before swallowing it whole.
The Grenada Bank Boa is listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. Researchers believe this species’ primary threats are habitat loss due to tourism development and urbanization, climate change, introduced predators, and loss of available prey.
#20. Barbour’s Tropical Racer
- Mastigodryas bruesi
Found on Grenada and St. Vincent.
- Adults can reach a length of 33 inches from snout to vent.
- Their coloration is blue-gray to brown with lighter lateral stripes.
- They have slender bodies and whitish-to-dirty yellow undersides.
These snakes were named for Dr. Charles Thomas Brues (1879-1955), an American zoologist and entomologist who was one of the collectors of the holotype.
Barbour’s Tropical Racers are semi-arboreal snakes generally found in relatively dry habitats, including forests and plantations. They are not frequently observed in gardens and other urbanized settings.
These racers are diurnal and prey on frogs and lizards. At night they sleep in trees and bushes up to heights of about 16 feet above the ground. This tendency to sleep above the ground seems to have helped protect these snakes from invasive mongooses to some extent.
Barbour’s Tropical Racers are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. However, these snakes have been affected by the introduction of non-native predators like mongooses.
#21. Cope’s Antilles Snake
- Hypsirhynchus parvifrons
Found on Hispaniola.
- Small, slender snake with a light tan base coloration.
- The crown is darker brown, and a wide dark brown line extends down the center of the back, and two very dark brown to black stripes begin at the snout, go through the eyes, and extend down each side.
- Some subspecies may be uniformly dark-colored.
Cope’s Antilles Snakes are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
#22. Catesby’s Pointed Snake
- Uromacer catesbyi
Found on Hispaniola.
- Adults may grow to 6 inches or longer from snout to vent.
- Their coloration is green with a darker stripe through their eye, and they may have white, pale green, or blue sides and undersides.
- They have blunt snouts.
Also known as the Blunt-headed Hispaniolan Vine Snake, these brilliant green snakes prefer forest habitats from sea level to 4300 feet of elevation. They were named in honor of English naturalist Mark Catesby who published the first account of flora and fauna of North America.
Catesby’s Pointed Snakes are a diurnal, arboreal species. Researchers have found that they only come down to the ground to move quickly from bush to bush. They forage in bushes and trees and typically prey on frogs, lizards, and birds.
They spend their mornings basking in patches of sunlight. Researchers have found that these snakes are likelier to be in lower branches during the day and move farther up into trees or bushes in the evening. At night, they sleep loosely coiled near the ends of leafy branches. The female snakes lay eggs.
Catesby’s Pointed Snakes are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
#23. Hispaniola Boa
- Chilabothrus striatus
Found on Hispaniola.
- Adults may grow to a maximum length of 7.6 feet from snout to vent.
- Their base coloration is often pale brown, gray, or reddish brown.
- They may be patternless or virtually patternless or have 60 to 122 blotches, rhombs, or spots of gray, tan, or brown outlined with black or darker brown, which are sometimes too fused to count.
Hispaniola Boas occupy woodlands in the Caribbean that are hot and humid.
Hispaniola Boas are primarily nocturnal and arboreal. At night, researchers observed adults in the lower branches of trees. During the day, they often rest in branches in the shade 16 to 65 feet above the ground. They may also use limestone crevices, hollow trees, and bird nests.
The diet of these snakes appears to depend largely upon an individual’s size. Smaller snakes, less than two feet from snout to vent length, feed primarily on anoles. Individuals between 2 and 2.6 feet feed on anoles and rodents. Those individuals over 2.6 feet feed primarily on birds and rats. They may also feed on bats in areas where they’re plentiful.
Hispaniola Boas give birth to live young. The longevity of these snakes hasn’t been fully studied. A couple of individuals in captivity have reportedly reached at least 20 years of age.
Hispaniola Boas are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. Unfortunately, populations of these snakes in Haiti are largely understudied due to an unstable government and unsafe travel conditions. In addition, these snakes face threats from extensive deforestation and agricultural development in Haiti.
#24. Haitian Dwarf Boa
- Tropidophis haetianus
Found on Hispaniola.
- Adults may grow to a maximum length of 2.3 feet from snout to vent.
- The base coloration of their body is pale tan to dark brown, and they have an unmarked brown head.
- Their back may have 44 to 57 prominent or faded spots or blotches of dull olive or pale olive to dark brown in 8 to 10 rows.
Although they are called dwarf or wood boas, these species are primitive constricting snakes in a separate family (Trophidophidae) from true boas (Boidae). They are smaller than true boas, and interestingly, their color pattern appears lighter at night than during the day.
Haitian Dwarf Boas prey primarily on lizards and frogs. When threatened, they may flee, roll into a loose ball, emit foul-smelling musk from their cloacal glands, and auto hemorrhage, producing blood from their eyes, nose, and mouth.
Haitian Dwarf Boas are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List.
#25. Jamaican Red Groundsnake
- Hypsirhynchus callilaemus
Found 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, 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. 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.
#26. Jamaican Boa
- Chilabothrus subflavus
Found on 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. Their populations 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.
#27. Martinique Lancehead
- Bothrops lanceolatus
Also known as Fer-de-lances or Martinican Pit Vipers.
Found on Martinique.
- Adults may range from 3.5 to 10 feet long and have medium-sized heavy bodies.
- Their coloration varies from gray to brown to yellow-tan, with darker markings and lighter undersides that may have dark grayish blotches.
- Their head is darker colored than their body and is distinct from their neck, and lance or spear-shaped.
These pit vipers occupy tropical and wet forests on the rocky hillsides of the Caribbean island of Martinique up to 4,300 feet above sea level. They are sometimes depicted on Martinique’s unofficial flag. They’re primarily terrestrial and nocturnal snakes.
Martinique Lanceheads are ambush predators, waiting to detect prey that passes by with their heat-sensing pit organs. They may wait on the ground or occasionally in trees to snag birds as they pass. Individuals are known to return to the same place to hunt year after year during spring bird migrations. Researchers have found that these snakes can improve their strike accuracy over time.
Martinique Lanceheads are venomous. While these snakes rarely bite humans, they will if threatened. Bites from Martinique Lanceheads may cause various symptoms, including bruising, swelling, blistering, pain, tissue necrosis, seizures, diarrhea, vomiting, hypovolemic shock, and renal failure. Medical treatment should be sought immediately for a bite.
Martinique Lanceheads are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, and their populations are continuing to decline. Agricultural development and human persecution are two of these snakes’ largest threats.
#28. Montserrat Racer
- Alsophis manselli
Found on Montserrat.
- Adults may reach 3.3 feet in length.
- They have a broad dark brown to black stripe down their back that is broken up by a double alternating series of yellowish spots towards the front (head) of their body.
As the name suggests, these snakes are only found on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. They occupy rainforest, forest edges, dry scrub, dry forest, and banana and coconut plantations. They may also be found around human dwellings.
These snakes primarily feed on lizards and small rodents. Montserrat Racers rarely bite humans and are considered harmless. However, if threatened, they may release a foul-smelling cloacal secretion.
Montserrat Racers are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. They face a significant threat from habitat loss and are estimated to have lost about 30% of their available habitat. They are also threatened by human persecution and exposure to invasive predatory animals like mongooses.
#29. Puerto Rican Racer
- Borikenophis portoricensis
Found in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
- Adults may grow to be three feet long.
- They have brown scales that are edged with darker brown.
- They have a neck hood, similar to a cobra but narrower.
Puerto Rican Racers are diurnal, largely terrestrial snakes in Puerto Rico that feed on lizards and small rodents. They bite their prey and use venom to hinder it. They typically move their prey to a secondary location before feeding.
Interestingly, Puerto Rican Racers possess a narrow neck hood similar to a cobra. These snakes can display this hood by raising the front part of their body off the ground. However, Puerto Rican Racers only display this hood if they’ve been provoked and are getting ready to strike.
While their venom is highly effective on small vertebrates, no fatalities have been reported from humans being bitten by Puerto Rican Racers. Reported symptoms from bites include swelling, immobilization, and severe numbness lasting up to a month.
Puerto Rican Racers are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
#30. Puerto Rican Boa
- Chilabothrus inornatus
Found in Puerto Rico.
- Adults’ maximum size is approximately 6.5 feet in length.
- Their base coloration may be gray, pale to dark brown, or chestnut.
- They have 70 to 80 darker-colored patches.
These snakes are often found in forested, rocky habitats in the foothills of the northwest and karst regions of Puerto Rico. They are nocturnal, semi-arboreal snakes and may be observed in trees or hanging from cliff walls waiting for prey.
Smaller boas primarily feed on anoles, while larger ones prey more on rodents, birds, bats, and other creatures. Some researchers recorded Puerto Rican Boas hanging by the mouths of caves to grab bats that fly in and out. They grab prey items with their mouth and then constrict and suffocate them before swallowing them head first.
Females give birth to litters of 23 to 26 live boas. The lifespan of wild Puerto Rican Boas is known, but scientists believe they may live between 20 and 30 years!
Historical records dating back to the 18th century indicate that these snakes were probably abundant before Spanish colonization. Unfortunately, these snakes were heavily hunted to produce snake oil. They were also negatively impacted by deforestation and the introduction of mongooses.
Some efforts have been made to help conserve this species, and it is currently listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List but is still listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
#31. Ground Snake
- Magliophis exiguus
Also known as Puerto Rican Garden Snakes and Virgin Islands Miniracer.
Found in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
- Adults typically only reach 12 to 14 inches from snout to tail.
- Slender, pencil-like body.
- Dark brown with darker markings on their sides and whitish cheeks.
Ground Snakes are a terrestrial species often observed in the lower to middle sections of montane wet and dry forests though they may also occur in urban and rural garden settings. They spend most of their time on the forest floor beneath rocks, leaf litter, logs, branches, or other debris.
These secretive snakes prey mostly on anoles and some larger lizards. Ground Snakes seize their prey and inject it with venom. They wait until their prey has died or lost consciousness before swallowing it. Interestingly, the venom may begin digesting the prey before the snake has even swallowed it!
Female snakes lay clutches of 7 to 30 eggs. Researchers have observed eggs in different stages of development in one nest, indicating that females may lay successive clutches in one place or multiple females use the same nest.
#32. Striped Keelback
- Xenochrophis vittatus
Found in Puerto Rico.
- Adult males typically grow up to 19.7 inches, while adult females reach up to 27.6 inches in length.
- They are bronze colored with black stripes running down the top and sides of the body.
- They have slender bodies, and their chin and ventral area are barred black and white.
These semi-aquatic, diurnal snakes are primarily found in aquatic habitats such as ponds, wetlands, and paddies. However, they may also be observed in open habitats like meadows, grasslands, scrublands, fields, suburban areas, and mature forests’ edges.
Although these snakes are native to western Indonesia, they have been introduced to Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. In their native range, they are found from sea level to 3937 feet of elevation.
Striped Keelbacks feed on fish, amphibians, and lizards. They are rear-fanged and have mild venom to help immobilize prey. However, their venom is harmless. Striped Keelbacks are often kept as pets.
They breed year-round. Females lay clutches of 5 to 12 eggs. Hatchlings tend to be about 5 inches in length. Striped Keelbacks live for about ten years.
#33. Santa Lucía Boa Constrictor
- Boa orophias
Found on Saint Lucia.
- Adults may be between 20 inches and 14 feet in length and are more slender than other boa species.
- Pale to medium brown backs, gray flanks, and 27 to 31 large dark brown saddle patches and some paler areas.
- They have a dark line through their eye and down their cheek, and the entire snake may have a metallic gleam in certain light.
These snakes, locally called Tet Chyenn or Dog’s Head for their distinctive head shape, are found on the mountainous volcanic island of Saint Lucía in the Caribbean. This island was once covered in large tracts of humid rainforest that were ideal habitats for Santa Lucía Boa Constrictors.
Today, much of that rainforest has been cut down. However, these boas can still be found in various habitats on the island, including forested areas, cultivated fields, and ravines from sea level up to 1,650 feet of elevation. In addition, they are frequently found in trees.
Santa Lucía Boa Constrictors are incredible predators, able to lunge up to 1/3 of their body length. They feed on birds and mammals, including rats, cats, rabbits, bats, opossums, and mongooses. As their name suggests, they grab their prey with their jaws and then constrict them with their strong coils, killing the prey before swallowing it.
Santa Lucía Boa Constrictors are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. These big snakes are threatened by habitat loss, pollution, invasive predators, and human persecution. They have received some protection from the Saint Lucía Forestry Department, which can fine anyone found to be endangering or harming a Santa Lucía Boa Constrictor. However, they are still commonly killed out of fear or for food or medicine.
#34. Saint Lucia Lancehead
- Bothrops caribbaeus
Also called St. Lucia Fer-de-Lances or St. Lucia Vipers.
Found on Saint Lucia.
- Adults may grow up to 6 feet in length or more.
- Their coloration is typically olive, olive-gray, or olive-brown, with darker brown blotches that are often almost obsolete.
- Their bellies are typically whitish or yellowish.
Saint Lucia Lanceheads are mostly terrestrial but are occasionally observed in trees. They occupy rainforests and some other habitats on the island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean.
Saint Lucia Lanceheads are venomous and use their venom to subdue their prey. They have heat-sensing pits that help them to detect their food. Adult snakes feed on rats, mice, and occasionally mongooses, manicou, and birds. Young snakes often feed on smaller prey, such as large insects, frogs, and lizards.
Bites on humans are extremely rare, and only one has ever been reported. However, the victim had serious symptoms, including pain, edema, bleeding, swelling, necrosis, cerebral ischemia, facial hemiplegia, and paralysis.
Saint Lucia Lanceheads are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Human persecution is one of the largest threats facing these snakes. They are often killed out of fear. They also face other issues like habitat loss.
#35. Virgin Islands Tree Boa
- Chilabothrus granti
Found on the Virgin Islands.
- Adults are typically less than 3.3 feet from snout to vent.
- Body coloration is typically a light, dull, leaden-looking gray-brown with darker blotches partially edged in black.
- They have a grayish-brown speckled with darker spots.
Virgin Islands Tree Boas are typically found in low-elevation habitats. They occupy subtropical dry forests, mangroves, thickets, scrublands, low-density residential areas, and waterfront and marine areas. These boas rest and hide under rocks and debris or in termite nests during the day. At night they forage in the trees up to about 13 feet above the ground.
Active hunters, these boas prey primarily on anoles sleeping in the tree branches. However, they have also been known to prey on small ground lizards and birds occasionally.
Incredibly, the lifespan of Virgin Islands Tree Boas often exceeds 20 years in captivity. A small percentage of individuals even exceed 30 years of age, and they’ve been recorded to be able to reproduce at greater than 20 years of age. Female boas give birth to live young and may have between 50 to 75 offspring during their lifetime.
Virgin Islands Tree Boas are listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List. Their numbers and range were probably greatly reduced due to development and land use changes associated with colonization in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today the remaining populations are heavily impacted by predation by feral cats and dogs, development, and habitat destruction caused by feral sheep. Thankfully, some captive breeding programs have been successful at boosting wild populations.
#36. Mona Island Boa
- Chilabothrus monensis
Found in Puerto Rico – Mona Island.
- Adult males typically measure between 27.6 and 40.4 inches from snout to vent, while adult females measure 28.4 to 49.4 from snout to vent.
- Coloration is gray-brown with 47 to 73 dark chocolate-brown blotches lined with darker pigment that may form complete or almost complete rings around the tail.
- Their heads are pale with a unique coloring that helps them blend into their environment.
Mona Island Boas are nocturnal and semi-arboreal. They’re found in forested areas on the coast and inland on the Island of Mona in the Caribbean.
They prefer habitats with a high density of trees and a wide variety of tree structures, such as compound trunks, spreading crowns, and aerial roots. These habitats allow them to forage freely in the trees without having to descend to the ground and also provide ideal habitat for resting. Interestingly, larger individuals seem to spend more time higher in the trees than smaller boas.
It takes females about five years to reach sexual maturity, and they give birth to live young. The lifespan of these boas is largely unknown, but they’ve been reported to live for up to 11 years in captivity.
Unfortunately, Mona Island Boas are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. One of the biggest threats to these boas is feral cats. One study found that 70% of all boas captured had healed injuries from feral cats. The island’s feral herds of goats, cattle, and hogs also destroy the understory habitat crucial for these boas and their prey.
#37. Ashmead’s Banded Cat-eyed Snake
- Leptodeira ashmeadii
Found on Trinidad and Tobago.
- Adults typically range from 30 to 36 inches in length.
- Their coloration varies considerably, and they may be yellowish, brown, or reddish, with dark brown or blackish spots that may form zigzag stripes or bands.
- Their head is distinct from their neck, and they have large eyes with vertically elliptical pupils.
Ashmead’s Banded Cat-eyed Snakes are typically found in moist areas with plenty of debris for shelter. They occupy forested areas, forest edges, riparian zones, residential areas, and the margins of swamps and marshes.
These nocturnal snakes hunt on the ground, in trees, or in bushes. They feed primarily on frogs and lizards but also consume frog eggs, salamanders, and fledgling birds.
They are nonvenomous and completely harmless to humans. However, if grabbed or held, they may release a foul-smelling secretion to help deter predators.
#38. Trinidad Tree Boa
- Corallus ruschenbergerii
Also known as Common Tree Boas or Central American Tree Boas
Found on Trinidad and Tobago.
- Adults may be up to 7 or 8 feet in length.
- Their coloration is yellowish-brown or bronze to deep dark brown they may have some darker patterning or be patternless or nearly patternless.
- Many of their scales are darker colored, bordered by white or pale yellow, and they may appear iridescent in certain lighting.
Trinidad Tree Boas occupy various habitats from sea level to about 3,300 feet of elevation, including mangroves, rainforests, palm groves, riparian forests, and wet and dry lowland forests.
These boas are nocturnal and primarily arboreal. They often lie hidden at the tips of branches and are quick to bite when disturbed. As adults, they primarily feed on rats, squirrels, and opossums. Younger individuals feed more on smaller prey, including lizards, frogs, and mice.
Little is known about their mating habits and lifespan in the wild, which may vary over their range. Captive individuals typically breed in late winter or spring. The females give birth to about 8 to 10 live young. In captivity, these boas are long-lived and may reach 20 years or older.
Trinidad Tree Boas are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. These snakes appear fairly stable, are protected, and part of their population is located within several nature reserves. However, like many species, they still face environmental threats from pollution, prey depletion, and deforestation.
#39. Rutherford’s Vine Snake
- Oxybelis rutherfordi
Found on Trinidad and Tobago.
- Slender snakes with narrow heads.
- Their body is brown to gray-brown.
- They have brown heads with black spots, and their upper and lower lips are intense yellow and separated from the brown by a dark line.
Rutherford’s Vine Snakes occupy various habitats, including forests, coastlines, and residential gardens. They are diurnal and arboreal and primarily feed on small, terrestrial lizards. They spend much of their time coiled in low trees or bushes, resting or waiting to attack prey.
These snakes are rear-fanged and have venom, which helps subdue prey. However, their venom has minimal effect on humans.
#40. Three-lined Ground Snake
- Atractus trilineatus
Also known as three-lined worm snake, ground snake, short-tailed ground snake, and stub-tailed snake.
Found on Trinidad and Tobago.
- Adults typically grow to about 9.5 inches in length.
- Their coloration is an even brown-gray with three dark brown stripes running from head to tail, and the belly is pale yellow.
- The head and eyes are small, and there’s no distinction between the head and neck.
Three-lined Ground Snakes occupy various habitats, including forests, savannahs, and urban areas. They are burrowing snakes that spend most of their time curled in tight balls beneath leaf litter, rotting vegetation, or other debris.
In urban areas, they may be found beneath flower pots resting on the ground. Due to this behavior, these snakes, especially juveniles, are sometimes mistaken for earthworms.
Three-lined Ground Snakes commonly feed on soft-bodied insects, earthworms, tadpoles, and small fish. Interestingly, these small, nonvenomous snakes use their sharp-pointed tails as a defense mechanism. They probe predators with it to startle them.
Three-lined Ground Snakes are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. Their populations are believed to be stable and protected in Trinidad and Tobago.
#41. Bahamian Racer
- Cubophis vudii
Found in the Bahamas.
- Adults may grow almost 4 feet long and have hoods on their necks.
- Base coloration varies widely with location and may be tan, sandy, dark brown, reddish-brown, reddish, taupe, gray, or black.
- Their patterning is also variable, and they may be uniform in color or have patterns.
Bahamian Racers are the most common snakes in the Bahamas.
They thrive in various habitats, including mangroves, scrublands, pine woods, and lawns. These snakes vary widely in color and are also known as Brown Racers or Garden Snakes.
Bahamian Racers primarily feed on frogs and lizards but occasionally prey on birds and rodents. They use venom to help subdue their prey and are the only venomous snake in the Bahamas. However, their mild venom does not affect humans.
Bahamian Racers have an interesting method of deterring predators. They have a hood or throat skin that they can flatten. So when they feel threatened, they flatten their hood and raise the front of their body off the ground, appearing a bit like a cobra.
Bahamian Racers face pressure from invasive Corn Snakes as they both prey on the same species.
#42. Bahamian Boa
- Chilabothrus strigilatus
Found in the Bahamas.
- Adults may reach lengths up to 7.5 feet from snout to vent, with males generally smaller than females.
- Base coloration may be gray or tan to dark brown.
- Complex patterning of dark diamonds or angular blotches down their backs.
Bahamian Boas occupy hardwood forests, mangroves, and scrub and brush lands. They are largely arboreal and excellent climbers. Bahamian Boas are typically spotted in trees and bushes and have been known to climb up to 16 feet. These have adapted well to human disturbance in the Caribbean and are sometimes found in garages and outbuildings.
Bahamian Boas are the largest terrestrial carnivores native to the Bahamas.
These large predators are sometimes called “fowl snakes” because of their taste for chickens. They also feed on rats, frogs, lizards, birds, and bats. The young snakes tend to feed almost exclusively on small lizards, while older, larger individuals seem to prefer mammalian prey.
Bahamian Boas are listed as species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. Unfortunately, their numbers are believed to be declining. Humans often kill them out of fear as they’re mistaken to be dangerous or considered bad omens. They’re also killed on roadways by vehicles.
#43. Abaco Island Boa
- Chilabothrus exsul
Also known as the Northern Bahamas Boa.
Found in the Bahamas.
- Adult males may be up to 22.3 inches from snout to vent, while adult females may measure up to 31.5 inches from snout to vent.
- They have a slender, laterally compressed body, and their head is un-patterned and distinct from their neck.
- Their coloration is typically shades of brown to tan with darker irregular blotches, and they may have an iridescent sheen.
These snakes primarily occupy hardwood forests but may also use pine forests and gardens. Little is known about their behavior and habits in the wild, but they are believed to be opportunistic predators that feed on lizards, small birds, and rodents. In captivity, adult snakes prey on rodents while juveniles consume anoles.
Abaco Island Boas are known to be incredibly long-lived. Individuals in captivity have been recorded to live for more than 40 years. Captive individuals have successfully bred at more than 30 years old. Females give birth to litters of 2 to 11 live young.
Abaco Island Boas are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. These boas are sadly understudied and face threats from road mortality, predation by feral cats, and habitat loss due to tourism development.
#44. Corn Snake
- Pantherophis guttatus
Found on the Caymans Islands, the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands.
- Adults range from 24 to 72 inches in length.
- Coloration is orangish-brown with black-bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches and a spear-shaped pattern on the head and neck.
- The underside usually has a black and white checkerboard pattern which may have some orange.
Unfortunately, these snakes are invasive to the Caribbean!
Corn Snakes are native to the southwestern United States. Due to their docile nature, they are incredibly popular as pets. Sadly, irresponsible pet owners let them escape, and now they have established a breeding population, which puts pressure on native snake populations in the Caribbean.
Corn Snakes got their name because of their frequent presence near corn storage areas due to an abundance of rodents hanging out at these locations. However, some sources maintain that they were named for the pattern on their underside, which sometimes looks like kernels of bi-color corn.
Corn Snakes prey on rodents, lizards, frogs, and birds and their eggs. These snakes are constrictors that squeeze and asphyxiate larger prey, but small prey may be swallowed whole without constriction.
If disturbed in the wild, they may vibrate their tail and lift the front of their body into an S-shape to appear more threatening. If grabbed or pinned, it’s not out of the question for them to bite their attacker, but they typically calm down quickly when being held.
#45. Boa Constrictor
- Boa constrictor
Also known as Red-tailed Boa, Common Boa.
Found on Aruba, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix.
- 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 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. 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.
#46. Brahminy Blindsnake
- Indotyphlops braminus
Found on the Caymans Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix.
- Adults are 5.1-10.2 cm (2-4 in) long.
- Their coloring varies; charcoal gray, light yellow-beige, silver-gray, purplish, and white are common.
- The body shape is worm-like, and they are easily mistaken for earthworms.
This tiny species is one of the smallest snakes in the Caribbean.
The Brahminy Blindsnake, as its name suggests, is almost completely blind. It has small, translucent eyes that can detect light but not form images. This snake species is not native to the Caribbean. Instead, it arrived here by being transported in the soil of potted plants, which has earned them the nickname “Flowerpot Snake.”
They spend almost all their time underground in ant and termite nests and live under logs, moist leaves, and stones. Look for them in urban gardens and moist forests.
When distressed or attacked, the Brahminy Blindsnake will try to escape underground. If touched, it might press its tail on the attacker and release a smelly musk. Despite its rather creepy appearance, this snake is completely harmless to humans.
Which of these snakes have you seen before in the Caribbean?
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