5 of Puerto Rico's Most Amazing Snakes You Should Know About (2023)

Only 10 endemic snake species are believed to exist in Puerto Rico. That's great news for any ophidiophobes thinking of hopping to unincorporated U.S. territory this year to enjoy the surf breaks and sunny beaches, cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, and rainforest-covered mountains. But it also gets better...

Of the 10 snakes living on the island, only one, a solitary one, has been recorded as a carrier of venom capable of harming humans, and even that is a matter of debate. That leaves 90% of the legless critters here in the "harmless" category, which is probably why snake bites - especially the ones that can ruin a trip - are generally very rare.

This guide to snakes in thePuerto Ricowill focus on five of the most intriguing types you may come across. We'll provide information on what they look like, where they live, and - most importantly - whether they're the only ones responsible for the one poisonous bite at this tropical getaway and spring break center in the heart of the Caribbean. Let's start…


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Puerto Rican boa (Chilabothrus without decorations)

5 of Puerto Rico's Most Amazing Snakes You Should Know About (1)

OfPuerto Rican boa constrictoris probably the most famous of all snakes in Puerto Rico. This is mainly due to the fact that it can get quite massive. Yes, these guys can reach a total length of almost six feet when fully grown. That's taller than your average human height and about the same length as a full-grown female tiger, just for perspective.

Incredibly long length to the side,Chilabothrus without decorationsthey can be noticed thanks to their distinctive earthy color scheme. Thin bodies are usually characterized by alternating spots of dark brown and moldy gray, becoming noticeably paler on the underside of the animal. They also have a small head with dark brown scales at the base of the chin and dark, pearly eyes on the sides of the cheeks.

Boes are not poisonous, but they are not powerless either. These guys are part of a lineage of creatures known as constrictors, who catch and kill their prey by grabbing it with their vise-like jaws to entwine their long, muscular bodies around the body, eventually leading to to suffocation. This phenomenon allows them to feed on creatures that are generally much larger than other snakes can hope for - think magaclines and even adult birds.

The Puerto Rican boa is mainly found in the karst area in the north of Puerto Rico. It is a landscape that really suits these semi-arboreal areas, as it is filled with damp caves that are home to an abundance of bats (a favorite meal for boas). Scientists have even seen these men hanging by their tails at the entrance of caves in the karst region, waiting for unsuspecting bats to fly by.

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Puerto Rican runner (Ook in Puerto Rico)

5 of Puerto Rico's Most Amazing Snakes You Should Know About (2)

Here it is: the Puerto Rican rattlesnake, the ONLY known venomous snake in the entire island territory. This creature lives everywhere from low-lying coastal plains near beaches to sheltered mid-elevationsforests that cover the El Yunque National Forestdeep in the hinterland. In fact, travelers regularly see it on the trails there, especially the popular Big Tree Nature Trail that cuts right through the heart of the reserve.

Look for a snake that is about three or four feet in total height. It is thin and slender, with a clear organization of scales that extend elegantly from snout to tail. In terms of color, the Puerto Rican runner appears to have evolved to blend seamlessly into the undergrowth of the island's forests. It has a light brown top and a dark brown underside, making it a perfect match for rotting leaves and wood.

As we said, the biteOok in Puerto Ricois the only snakebite to watch out for in Puerto Rico. Traditionally considered harmless, scientists now believe the creature possesses venomous sage and venom that can lead to local health complications, severe bruising and swelling that can spread beyond the site of contact. However, no incidents fatal to humans have been recorded, and local hospitals are now equipped with the skills to minimize and control runner bites.

The bad news is that these snakes are very aggressive and territorial. If you see them, it's best to stay away, as they can change moods quickly. In attack mode, they lift their necks in the same style as a king cobra. This is usually enough to fend off potential attackers, but the pose is quickly followed by a bite attack where the snake clings to its prey. Left alone, the runner usually eats small rodents and lizards.

Common Wormhole Snake (Typhlopidae)

5 of Puerto Rico's Most Amazing Snakes You Should Know About (3)

Okay, so that's not the most flattering name for a snake, but the common wormhole snake looks just like its nickname suggests. It is light pink in color with a paler belly, is almost smooth from head to tail and has an almost invisible head on top of its body. In short: it looks like a worm!

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KindTyphlopidaewhich can be found in Puerto Rico is actually common throughout the Caribbean. It is known by a more specific Latin nameAntilotyphlops platycephalusand strangely enough, he is completely blind. This type also has a characteristically flat head and ends at one end with a light brown concentric ring around the entire body.

These guys like to dig - are we sure they're not just worms? - so they usually live close to the ground in muddy and remote parts of the island. They are usually found in the forested parts of Puerto Rico, from the more undeveloped karst areas of the north, far from the hustle and bustle of San Juan, to the protected landscapes of the El Yunque National Forest.

boa from the island of Mona (Chilabotrus monensis)

5 of Puerto Rico's Most Amazing Snakes You Should Know About (4)

The boa of the island of Mona gets its name from the fact that it originates on a small tip of the island called Mona. Look at the map, folks - it's little more than a speck on the shimmering Caribbean Sea between PR and the Dominican Republic. It may be uninhabited and small, but it's still an official part of U.S. territory and is home to this namesake snake. So here it is on our list…

Like the Puerto Rican boa constrictor before it, it catches and kills its prey by squeezing it to death. Don't worry, they aren't nearly strong enough to do that to humans. They grow to about half the size of their Puerto Rican cousins, reaching about 100 cm from snout to tail when fully grown.

In addition, the island of Mona boa is generally considered extremely elusive and is even rated as near threatened byIUCNdue to declining numbers in the wild. They tend to cling to heavily wooded areas, preferring to stay high in the branches of trees or even deep in the undergrowth among the undergrowth and only really emerge at night.

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boa in the Virgin Islands (Epikrat Planine Granti)

5 of Puerto Rico's Most Amazing Snakes You Should Know About (5)

The Virgin Islands wood boa is so named because it is more common in the neighboring archipelagos of the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands. In particular, it has a large population on the pristine forested island of Virgin Gorda in the BVI, but only on St. Thomas near USVI. However, it also shares forest space in Puerto Rico with other island constrictors.

Semi-arboreal, they usually live on trees or on branches. However, they can also be seen on the forest floor following prey, although this is almost always done in the dead of night, so it is very rare to witness the thrill of the chase.

Unfortunately, the boa constrictor in the Virgin Islands has suffered significantly from destruction and habitat loss in recent decades. The numbers are now thought to be in free fall and there are only a few healthy, viable populations left in the region.

They look exactly like you would expect from a boa. A large, powerful body that can reach just over a meter in length, culminating in a diamond-shaped head. The color is alternating brown and gray up to the base of the tail. To the untrained eye, these guys could easily look like the other two species on this list of the most amazing snakes in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico's Most Amazing Snakes to Know About - Our Conclusion

There's good news for travelers who fear encountering slippery creatures in this part of the US: There are only 10 snake species in Puerto Rico, and only one of them is venomous. In addition, many of them are very rare boas that target small rodents and reptiles, emerge only at night and live deep in the forest. The best place to spot snakes on the island is in the reserves of the northern karst area or in the forest of El Yunque.



What kind of snakes are in Puerto Rico? ›

Here are some of the other snakes in Puerto Rico: Flat-headed Blindsnake, Richard's Blind Snake, Puerto Rican Wetland, Blind Snake, Grant's Blind Snake, Mona Blind Snake, Coastal Blindsnake, Puerto Rican Boa, Mona Boa, Puerto Rican Racer, Puerto Rican Garter Snake.

What are 4 interesting facts about snakes? ›

7 cool facts about snakes
  • They have a very big family. ...
  • They are “solar-powered” and rely fully on external heat or light sources. ...
  • Not all snakes lay eggs. ...
  • Snakes don't have eyelids. ...
  • They smell with their tongues. ...
  • Their table manners are different than ours. ...
  • Snakes have 5 forms of locomotion.
Mar 15, 2022

What is the largest snake in Puerto Rico? ›

Description. The Puerto Rican Boa or "culebr" is the largest native species of snake, and one of only three Boidae on the island. It typically grows to a length of 6 or 7 feet, although 12 foot long specimens have been reported.

Is there any poisonous snakes in Puerto Rico? ›

The Puerto Rican Racer is the second largest Puerto Rican snake, and its venomous bite is mildly poisonous.

What animal is only found in Puerto Rico? ›

The island's wildlife includes a variety of endemic species, which are found only in Puerto Rico and a few nearby islands. Other unique animals include the Puerto Rican parrot, the Puerto Rican boa, and the Puerto Rican broad-winged hawk, all of which are found only in Puerto Rico and a few nearby islands.

What is the cutest snake? ›

Summary Of The Cutest Snakes In The World
1Rosy BoaCalifornia, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico
2Eyelash ViperSouthern Mexico through Central America to Colombia, Ecuador and Western Venezuela
3California KingsnakeMost of California, neighboring states, and northern Mexico
4Garter SnakeNorth America
7 more rows
Apr 4, 2023

What is snake afraid of? ›

Ammonia: Snakes dislike the odor of ammonia so one option is to spray it around any affected areas. Another option is to soak a rug in ammonia and place it in an unsealed bag near any areas inhabited by snakes to deter them away.

What are 2 snake facts? ›

Here are six surprising facts about snakes that will help render a sense of appreciation.
  • There are over 3,700 snake species. ...
  • Snakes evolved over 142 million years ago. ...
  • Some live in the sea. ...
  • Snakes are “solar-powered” ...
  • Their tongues smell. ...
  • Essential to their ecosystems.
Jul 15, 2022

Did snakes have 4 legs? ›

Scientists have long postulated that snake ancestors had four legs; two 2016 studies in the journal Cell that looked into snake genetics suggested that snakes lost their limbs about 150 million years ago due to genetic mutations, and other research has even found fossil evidence of a two-legged snake.

Do snakes have teeth? ›

All snakes have teeth, but not all snakes have 'fangs'–those famous, venom delivering teeth that are so prominent in the mouths of species like the pit viper. Here, we'll discuss the four different types of dentition present in snakes. Some snake species – like the boa constrictor – can have more than 200 teeth.

What is the brown snake in Puerto Rico? ›

The Puerto Rican Garden Snake is a small animal, typically only reaching a snout-to-tail length of from 12 to 14 inches (30 to 35 centimeters). It has a slender, pencil-like body that is dark-brown in color, with darker lateral markings along its flanks and with whitish cheeks.

What is the largest predator in Puerto Rico? ›

The spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) was introduced to Puerto Rico over 50 years ago with the Tortuguero Lagoon Natural Reserve (TLNR) as its epicenter, where it is now established as an apex predator.

What is the invasive snake in Puerto Rico? ›

Boa constrictor is an invasive snake here in Puerto Rico and it is thought that the introduction originated either from escaped zoo animals or released pets.

What bugs bite you in Puerto Rico? ›

Mosquitoes, scorpions, centipedes, flying cockroaches and tarantulas can all be found inside and out in wilderness areas such as forests .

How did snakes get to Puerto Rico? ›

Many species of reptiles are imported, both legally (mainly through the pet industry) and illegally, to the archipelago of Puerto Rico every year, with some of these species being subsequently released into the wild.

Are there bears in Puerto Rico? ›

Bats are the only extant native terrestrial mammals in Puerto Rico. All other terrestrial mammals in the area were introduced by humans, and include species such as cats, goats, sheep, the small Indian mongoose, and escaped monkeys. Marine mammals include dolphins, manatees, and whales.

Did Puerto Rico have monkeys? ›

Primates are not native to this country, but the one monkey in Puerto Rico is the rhesus macaque. Scientists brought these monkeys over in the late 1930s to study them, but they escaped the research facility.

Does Puerto Rico have jaguars? ›

When you think of a rainforest, you might imagine wildlife such as jaguars and monkeys, but you won't find those among El Yunque's animals. The island of Puerto Rico was formed from an underground volcano, so while the island boasts a lot of aquatic wildlife, birds, and amphibians, it doesn't have many endemic mammals.

What is Puerto Rico rare bird? ›

The Puerto Rican parrot is one of the rarest birds in the world and is found only in Puerto RIco. The population dropped to only 13 in 1975, falling from hundreds of thousands when Columbus traveled to the island in 1493.

Which snake is lazy? ›

Puff adders are often labled as "lazy" snakes, but are they really?

What is the friendliest snake? ›

One number one choice for the best snake pet is the corn snake. Of the bunch, corn snakes are considered the most docile and gentle. They are also known for being easy to handle and easy to feed.

What is the nicest snake ever? ›

The friendliest snake in the world is the corn snake. They would be voted “best personality” in the yearbook of snakes. Corn snakes are very friendly and love to be handled. Because they are easy to take care of they are one of the most popular pet snakes.

What kills snakes naturally? ›

Consider natural predators

Cats, foxes, raccoons, turkeys, pigs, and guinea hens are natural predators of snakes. Having these animals on or around your property is an effective natural way to keep snakes at bay.

Do snakes hate the smell of bleach? ›

Snakes hate the smell of all carbolic acids, which means that the smell of bleach alone may repel them from your home. However, snakes are also susceptible to bleach poisoning, incurred by inhaling or digesting the chemical, so yes, bleach could theoretically be used to kill a snake.

What attracts snakes to your house? ›

Snakes enter a building because they're lured in by dark, damp, cool areas or in search of small animals, like rats and mice, for food. Snakes can be discouraged from entering a home in several ways. Keeping the vegetation around the house cut short can make the home less attractive to small animals and snakes.

What is the 2 deadliest snake? ›

Australian Brown Snake

Its venom is reputed to be the second most toxic in the world. They cause the most snakebite deaths in Australia - 1/14,000 of an ounce of this venom is enough to kill a person.

Do snakes have two pennies? ›

Snakes and lizards have not just one, but two penises, called hemipenes. University of Sydney researcher Christopher Friesen says having two hemipenes may benefit males during mating.

How do snakes see humans? ›

They can use their eyes to create a visual image of the world around them, just like humans do, or they can use their extraordinarily sensitive infrared sensors to create a similar image based upon heat emitted by objects in their environment.

Did titanoboa exist? ›

Titanoboa, discovered by Museum scientists, was the largest snake that ever lived. Estimated up to 50 feet long and 3 feet wide, this snake was the top predator in the world's first tropical rainforest.

Why did snakes lose their legs? ›

Comparisons between CT scans of the fossil and modern reptiles suggest that snakes lost their legs when their ancestors evolved to live and hunt in burrows, habitats in which many snakes still live today. The findings disprove previous theories that snakes lost their legs in order to live in water.

Is there a snake with feet? ›

Five-lined skink: The snake with feet - Catalyst.

How often do pythons poop? ›

Typically, your ball python should poop about 1 week after eating a meal. This answer is not the same for all snakes as different environments, temperatures, and foods can cause digestion to take longer in some cases.

Does python have teeth? ›

Ball pythons have around 150 teeth that are 1 centimeter long. With a hooked shape, their teeth hold prey as they constrict and kill. If a ball python does bite, you may have symptoms and side effects like: Puncture marks at the site of the wound.

Does python have venom? ›

Pythons do not have venom and colubrids (rear-fanged snakes) either have a weak venom or lack venom altogether. Bites from venomous elapids (front-fanged snakes) should be taken seriously and treated appropriately. Read more about avoiding and treating snake bites.

Do baby snakes bite? ›

Property owners should use caution when they encounter any size snake as babies can still bite. Additionally, young venomous snakes are typically still deadly.

Do snakes teeth fall out? ›

While snakes frequently lose teeth when struggling with prey items, it is not a problem for them at all, as they can replace/regrow any teeth that are lost throughout their lifetime.

Do snakes have lungs? ›

Snake lungs show a remarkable diversity of organ asymmetries. The right lung is always fully developed, while the left lung is either absent, vestigial, or well-developed (but smaller than the right). A 'tracheal lung' is present in some taxa.

What is a grape snake? ›

They're simply made of green grapes, with candy eyes. Only the teeniest wee bit of sugar in those eyes. Snakes made with grapes. This fun treat is a great way to introduce little ones to the stories of Saint Patrick.

Does Puerto Rico have poisonous spiders? ›

The Common Puerto Rican Brown Tarantula is a nocturnal predator, killing its prey by injecting venom with its long, black fangs.

What is a Judas snake? ›

The use of Judas snakes is another technique. A Judas snake is a male into which a small radio transmitter has been inserted to track its location. Judas snakes are followed during the winter and spring mating season as they seek out females. The betrayed female can then be removed from the population.

What are the top killers in Puerto Rico? ›

Heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease are the leading causes of disability and death in Puerto Rico.

Is Puerto Rico known for sharks? ›

The Caribbean is a known hot-spot for sharks, and Puerto Rico is slowly but surely making its mark as a “must see” shark research area. In fact, 14 species of carcharhinid sharks have been reported in Puerto Rico, although it may be an underestimation due to lack of monitoring and data reporting on the island.

What is the deadliest spider in Puerto Rico? ›

Without a doubt, the most dangerous spider in Puerto Rico is the brown recluse spider. Aside from the black widow, which is so uncommon as to be a non-issue for travelers, the brown recluse is the only spider on the island that can cause serious pain, harm, and even death in humans.

What is the most toxic land snake in the world? ›

The inland or western taipan, Oxyuranus microlepidotus, is the most venomous snake in the world, according to Britannica. Native to Australia, this snake has the deadliest venom based on median lethal dose, or LD50, tests on mice.

What happens if you get bit by a Puerto Rican racer? ›

All documented cases report that the bite lasted from 1 to 4 minutes. All of the victims presented with localized pain and ecchymosis. Localized edema extended from the hand to the elbow in 4 cases, and up to the shoulder in 2 cases.

Is there snakes in El Yunque? ›

Reptiles. There are many types of reptiles to be found in El Yunque, some of which you are likely to see on your visit to the forest. There are various types of lizards, anoles, geckos and snakes.

Are there alot of snakes in Puerto Rico? ›

There are over ten snake species in native Puerto Rico. Most of these snakes are not venomous and it is integral that you should avoid the areas where these snakes usually thrive.

What is the most venomous animal in Puerto Rico? ›

The most dangerous animals in Puerto Rico are spiders. There are a few species of the eight-legged arachnids on the island that could inject deadly venom into their victim. The deadliest spiders are the brown recluse and the black widow.

What is the only US state without poisonous snakes? ›

There are 15 subspecies of venomous snakes in Texas, in four groups -water moccasins, also called cottonmouths, copperheads, rattlesnakes and coral snakes. Alaska is famous for its complete absence of snakes, something most people - especially people from venomous snake country - fully appreciate.

What island has the most snakes? ›

Ilha da Queimada Grande, also known as Snake Island, is a small island that lies off the coast of the southeastern portion of Brazil. The land is part of the State of Sao Paulo, and it's noteworthy for having several different terrains, including a small portion of the rainforest.

What state has most snake bites? ›

North Carolina Has the Highest Bite Rate of 157.8 per Million Population per Year (Healthy Journal) Out of all fifty states, North Carolina has the highest rate of venomous snakebites in the whole United States.

What is the most special animal in Puerto Rico? ›

The most recognizable and famous animal of Puerto Rico is probably the common coquí, a small endemic frog, and one of the 86 species that constitute Puerto Rico's herpetofauna.

What pets are illegal in Puerto Rico? ›

All breeds of Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, American Pit Bull terrier, and hybrids produced by crossbreeding with dogs of other breeds are prohibited to be introduced or imported to Puerto Rico.

Which US state is snake free? ›

That makes Alaska one of two states to be snake-free, the other being Hawaii. As an island, Hawaii is more representative of why most countries without snakes have gotten so lucky: They're geographically isolated. Not all islands are devoid of snakes, of course.

What warm state has no snakes? ›

Hawaii: 2. Hawaii has no native snakes, and the state has gone to great lengths to prevent the introduction of non-native species that could destroy its environment.

Can you drink tap water in Puerto Rico? ›

Both the CDC and World Health Organization say that Puerto Rico's drinking water is generally safe to drink. Travel advisors expand on that, pointing out that as a territory of the United States Puerto Rico must meet the same standards for drinking water as the States do.

What tree is poisonous in Puerto Rico? ›

Carrasco (Guao)– This is the worst poisonous plant you will find in Puerto Rico. Its related to poison sumac but its effects are much worse to those who are affected. If you have had reactions to poison ivy or its relatives, beware of this plant! The leaves look like holly– albeit, less festive.

What bugs to watch out for in Puerto Rico? ›

  • Ants. Bed Bugs. Cockroaches. Rodents. Spiders. Termites.
  • Commercial. Bioremediation Service.
  • Pest Control Equipment.
Mar 16, 2021


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