Below you will learn about the most common types of snakes found in Trinidad and Tobago.
The species found here 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. 🙂
10 SNAKES that live in Trinidad and Tobago:
#1. Ashmead’s Banded Cat-eyed Snake
- Leptodeira ashmeadii
- 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 in Trinidad and Tobago 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.
#2. Trinidad Tree Boa
- Corallus ruschenbergerii
Also known as Common Tree Boas or Central American Tree Boas
- 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 in Trinidad and Tobago 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 in Trinidad and Tobago. They 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.
#3. 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 in Trinidad and Tobago 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.
#4. Three-lined Ground Snake
- Atractus trilineatus
Also known as three-lined worm snake, ground snake, short-tailed ground snake, and stub-tailed snake.
- 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 in Trinidad and Tobago, 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.
#5. 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 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 Trinidad and Tobago 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.
- Bothrops atrox
Also known as Common Lancehead
- 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 an extremely venomous snake in Trinidad.
So, it’s best to tread carefully if you find yourself in their territory. 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 to consume it.
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 in humans. Interestingly, the younger snakes have faster-acting venom. You should seek medical attention quickly if you get bitten by this aggressive species.
#7. Forest Flame Snake
- Oxyrhopus petolarius
Also known as False Coral, Calico Snake
- They can reach a total length of 91 cm (36 in).
- Some specimens can mimic the patterns of coral snakes. They’re usually black with brightly colored bands in red, orange, and white shades.
- Some are plain brown with shiny scales.
- They have round, bulging eyes.
The Forest Flame Snake lives in forests, foothills, and lowlands in Trinidad and Tobago. This snake is mainly a night-time hunter, stalking rodents, lizards, and sleeping birds. Sometimes, it will raid birds’ nests to feast on eggs. Its venom is particularly toxic to Anole Lizards, one of its favorite foods.
When the sun comes out, Forest Flame Snakes will retreat into the shade for rest. However, they like warm places, so you might find one hiding in a hollow log where it’s easier to preserve heat.
They are only mildly venomous snakes and pose no danger to humans. On the contrary, Forest Flame Snakes are quite calm even when handled. Their first instinct upon sensing threats is to flee instead of fight.
#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 Trinidad and Tobago 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. Black-backed Snake
- Erythrolamprus melanotus
Also known as Shaw’s Dark Ground Snake, South American Black-backed Smooth Snake, Squirrel Snake
- They are fairly small and slender snakes that can grow to 43-60 cm (17-24 in) long.
- Their snouts are rounded.
- As you might have guessed from the name, these snakes have a black stripe that runs along the back from snout to tail.
- The rest of their bodies are lighter in color, commonly yellow, white, or orange.
You might see this snake in Trinidad and Tobago on land OR in water.
The Black-backed Snake is primarily a land-dwelling species, but it’s also an excellent swimmer.
Black-backed Snakes are active during the day when they chase after small lizards on dry land. In the water, they forage for fish and frogs. They’re also common on cacao plantations, where they seem comfortable around humans. But don’t be alarmed; they are non-venomous and don’t pose any danger to us.
On their native island of Trinidad, these snakes are called Beh belle chemin. This translates to “beauty of the road.” The black and yellow stripes intricately lining their body indeed make them a thing of beauty!
#10. 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 Trinidad and Tobago!
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 freshwater.
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!