5 COMMON Snakes Found in Uruguay! (2024)

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

Types of snakes in Uruguay

If so, you’ve come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the MOST COMMON snakes you can expect to see. Unfortunately, there are so many snakes that live in Uruguay that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂

You’ll see that the snakes in Uruguay 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!

5 types of snakes in Uruguay:

#1. Patagonian Racer

  • Philodryas patagoniensis

Also known as Patagonia Green Racer

Common Uruguay snakes
Credit (left image): Frederico de Alcântara Menezes, Arthur Diesel Abegg, Bruno Rocha da Silva, Francisco Luís Franco, Renato Neves Feio, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These are slender-bodied snakes growing up to 150 cm (59 in) long.
  • They have big, round pupils, rounded snouts, and prominent scaled markings from head to tail.
  • Coloration is various shades of olive green or brown. Their bellies are white.

The Patagonian Racer is a widespread snake in Uruguay.

It lives in steppes and grasslands across the continent. This reptile is not considered venomous, but it does have toxic saliva. It has a nasty bite, so it’s best to observe this snake from a distance.

Juvenile Patagonian Racers prefer cold-blooded prey like frogs and lizards. Adults, on the other hand, prefer warm-blooded prey such as birds and small mammals. They spend most of their time hunting in trees during the day. At night, they retreat to land crevices to avoid Barn Owls.

This stealthy snake has a habit of startling hikers with its astounding burst of speed! It can blend almost perfectly into the forest floor or tree cover.

#2. Yellow-bellied Liophis

  • Erythrolamprus poecilogyrus
Common snakes found in Uruguay
Credit (left image): Otavio A.V. Marques, (right image): Otavio A.V. Marques, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These snakes can grow between 55-100 cm (22-39 in) long.
  • Some specimens mimic the striped patterns of more venomous snakes.
  • As their name implies, they have yellow-colored undersides. The rest of their bodies are commonly a solid brown, olive, or black.

Yellow-bellied Liophises are speedy snakes you can find racing on dry land and grass fields. They are skilled swimmers, too, staying in shallow water to feed on frogs and toads. While adults eat lizards and small mammals, babies prefer tadpoles and insects.

This fascinating snake has adaptations to help it survive, both as a predator and as prey. For example, the Yellow-bellied Liophis will vomit to protect itself if it accidentally swallows a poisonous animal. Another handy defense mechanism is mimicking the colors of venomous coral snakes. In truth, this species is generally harmless. Still, it will bite when irritated, so don’t test your luck!

The unique appearance of Yellow-bellied Liophises makes them popular in the pet trade. They’re bred to produce even more diverse color patterns.

#3. Urutu Lancehead

  • Bothrops alternatus

Also known as Urutu, Crossed Pit Viper, Wutu

Snakes of Uruguay

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 80-120 cm (31-47 in) in length.
  • Their heads are distinctly broad and lance-shaped.
  • They’re brown, olive, and gray with a unique “mirrored” body pattern that can form cross-like shapes enclosed in large blotches.

Widely found in swamps and rainforests, the Urutu Lancehead is a member of the pit viper family. This highly venomous snake is drawn to the body heat of its prey using special organs in its head called “pits.” It blends into leaf litter to sneak up on unsuspecting mammals like opossums and mice.

Urutu Lancheads are short-tempered, contributing to many bites in humans. Its venom can cause serious tissue damage around the the bite wound. In severe cases, amputation of the affected limb is needed. Go to a hospital immediately if you find yourself bitten by this snake!

Although they usually live far away from civilization, Urutu Lanceheads can stray into farmlands in search of prey. Sadly, farmers are often forced to kill these snakes to protect their livestock.

#4. Gunther’s Striped Snake

  • Lygophis anomalus
Types of snakes in Uruguay
Credit (left image): Romi Galeota Lencina, (right image): Romi Galeota Lencina, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Fairly small and slender, adults grow only 45-72 cm (18-28 in) long.
  • Body coloration includes brown, olive, cream, and gray. These colors alternate to form spots and stripes. Their bellies are creamy yellow.
  • Two white lines run parallel to each other along the back.

Even though they’re small, Gunther’s Striped Snakes are numerous, so you have a good chance of spotting one. Don’t panic if you do. These snakes are harmless to humans and are more likely to flee than attack. They often inhabit grasslands, staying close to streams and lagoons.

During the winter, Gunther’s Striped Snakes hibernate to avoid the worst of the cold weather. Incredibly, they go for months without food! They can hibernate alone but prefer staying in groups, which helps them preserve body heat. So don’t be surprised to find large groups of these snakes during the spring as they wake up from their long nap. 🙂

Gunther’s Striped Snakes like to make lairs out of rodent burrows. Here, they’re protected from the elements as well as predators. If cornered, these striped snakes will expel a foul liquid as a warning. Watch out!

YouTube video

#5. South American Hognose

  • Xenodon dorbignyi

Also known as South American Pig-nosed Snake

Credit: Juan Anza, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults measure 45-80 cm (18-31 in) in length.
  • They get their name from their upward-facing snouts, shaped like a pig’s nose.
  • Coloration varies from yellowish, brown, black, and gray. Body patterns form a series of spots and blotches with light borders.

You might mistake a South American Hognose for a milk snake or coral snake. Despite being unrelated, they share a similar three-color skin pattern. This mimicry of the highly venomous coral snake helps scare off predators. But don’t worry; this species isn’t nearly as dangerous.

The upturned snouts of South American Hognoses allow them to make burrows to rest and hide in. These reptiles like sandy areas that aren’t too far from wetlands because the loose, moist soil is easier for them to dig. Their favorite prey is toads, but they’re known to eat fish in captivity.

The South American Hognose has poisonous saliva. Note that this isn’t the same as typical snake venom; it’s much milder, and it poses no harm to humans. These snakes are mild-mannered, making them popular among exotic pet keepers.

Please check out these guides to other animals found in Uruguay!

Which of these snakes have you seen before in Uruguay?

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