Caribbean snakes, There’s a lot of delicious tropical fruit, crystal clear water, and sand beaches. There’s no wonder it’s one of our favorite places for warm weather vacations, but it’s important to remember that there’s another side to the Caribbean – snakes! Snakes are found in abundance in this region, including over 200 species.
The Snakes of the Caribbean: The Species You Could Meet on Holiday
1. St. Vincent Blacksnake
The St. Vincent black snake is one of three species of black snakes found in the Caribbean. Its scientific name is Anilios nigrita. It is endemic to St. Vincent Island, where it lives in rainforests, grasslands, shrub lands, coastal areas, and agricultural fields. It is a nonvenomous snake that grows up to about 40 inches long.
The black snake is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning that trade in specimens must be regulated. This makes trade illegal unless there is documentation proving that the specimen came from legal sources. In addition, possession of black snakes is prohibited without proper permits.
2. Barbados Thread Snake
The thread snake, also known the worm snake, grows up to four inches long and lives in trees. Its name comes from the fact that it looks like a string of yarn. These snakes are harmless and live in tropical rainforests throughout the Caribbean. However, the population of thread snakes is dwindling because of habitat loss caused by deforestation.
3. The Cascabel
The Cascabel is one of the most deadly snakes found in the Caribbean region. While it may look like a harmless garden snake, it actually contains enough venom to kill you within minutes. This species of rattlesnake is native to the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Sint Maarten.
This smallish snake is usually a light pink or brownish color, measuring up to approximately 35 inches long. These snakes are quite docile and rarely bite unless provoked. However, bites do occur, and the venom is extremely potent. In fact, the venom is so powerful that it can even cause death within minutes. If bitten, seek medical attention immediately.
4. The Saint Lucia fer de Lance
The Saint Lucia fer de lances are another highly venomous snake found on the island of Saint Lucia. They are closely related to the vipers, and are one of three species of snakes native to the Caribbean region. They are named after the French word “fer”, meaning “lance”. Fer de lances are extremely dangerous, and although they rarely attempt to attack people, they do have the ability to cause severe injuries. Because of this danger, they are often killed when encountered. This has led to the snake becoming endangered.
5. The Leeward Island Racer
The leeward island racer is a species of snake native to Anguilla and neighboring Saint Barthélemy. It is found in both dry forests and mangrove swamps. Its natural habitats include coastal areas and lowland rainforests. It is threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation.
This snake is similar to the common boa constrictor; however, it lacks the ability to coil itself around prey. Instead, it relies upon ambush tactics and strikes quickly with its highly modified fangs.
The leeward islands racer is about 4–6 inches long. Like most snakes, it is nocturnal. However, it is active during the day on sunny days and avoids cloudy weather. It feeds primarily on small lizards and birds. It hibernates in burrows dug into the ground.
6. Caicos Dwarf Boa
Caicos dwarf boas are small constrictors native to the Bahamas. These snakes reach about 8 inches long and feed primarily on lizards. They are found throughout the islands, living among rocks, under logs, and even inside houses.
They are usually found alone or in pairs, although larger groups have been observed. Their diet consists mostly of small lizards, such as geckoes, skinks, and iguanas. Females lay 2 eggs per season, each measuring less than 5 mm.
7. Puerto Rican Boa
The small, brownish-gray boa constrictors are found throughout Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. They live in rainforests and eat lizards, frogs, mice, rats, and even bats.
This snake grows up to seven feet long and looks just like a miniature version of the black mamba. Unlike the Mamba, however, it doesn’t have fangs or poison glands. Instead, it uses its body to strangle its prey.
These snakes are considered vulnerable because of the decline in bat populations. In fact, there are fewer than 10,000 boas left in the wild.
8. Dominican Blind Snake
Another very small snake, this Burrowing Snake is blind and can reach up to 15 inches. Its small size and brown color gives it its secondary name of the Dominican Worm Snake. These snakes are completely harmless and non venomous. They are endemic to Dominica. This little guy is found throughout the island.
9. Antiguan Racer
The Antigua racer snake is one of several invasive species that have wreaked havoc on the Caribbean nation of Antigua. In fact, it’s the most devastating invader. Once nearly extinct, the snake was brought back thanks to intensive efforts by the local government and conservationists. Now, the reptiles are thriving again and are even being monitored via microchip implants.
10. Jamaican Boa
Jamaica has some of the most beautiful wildlife you can find anywhere else in the world. From monkeys, parrots, and iguanas to crocodiles, sea turtles, and even venomous snakes, there is something here for everyone. But one of the most fascinating animals in Jamaica is none other than the Jamaican boa. This massive snake can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh over 200 pounds. Despite being incredibly dangerous, these snakes are actually quite docile and gentle towards people. In fact, they are often used to protect livestock against predators such as mongooses.
11. The Jamaica Garden Snake
The Jamaican Garden Snake is one of the most commonly found species of snake in the Caribbean. This small snake is often mistaken for a rat snake because it looks similar. However, you can tell the difference just by looking at their tails. Rat snakes have long, thin tails while garden snakes have short, stubby ones.
These snakes are typically nocturnal animals, meaning they spend much of their lives sleeping during the day and waking up at night. Like many other reptiles, they use heat to regulate body temperature. If temperatures drop too low, they will seek out warmer areas.
They eat insects, spiders, frogs, lizards, and even some birds. One thing you might notice about garden snakes is how they move along the ground. Instead of moving forward, they crawl sideways.
12. Puerto Rican Wetland Blind Snake
This little snake is actually quite common in Puerto Rico, where it likes to live in wet areas such as marshes, swamps, ponds, and streams. These snakes are usually found near termite mounds, but some people say that they also like to hide under rocks. They are blind, so they cannot see anything, but they can hear very well. Their diet includes ants and termites, but sometimes they eat lizards and even frogs.
Conservation Efforts Can Change the Future
The Bahamas are home to over 200 different reptile species, including the critically endangered Antigua racer. This beautiful creature is just one example of how conservation efforts can change the future. We know that we could save the Antigua racer, and many other species, if we worked together to protect their natural habitat. But what do we need to do to make sure that happens?