DixPix Photographs



  Fauna- SNAKES  


The tropics of Mesoamerica are well endowed with snakes, both in terms of species and in numbers.  You may (or may not) be disappointed, however, in how seldom the average hiker gets to meet one in the forests.   Most are reclusive, and can detect your approach well before they are visible.  Although several will bite if cornered, only a few are actually poisonous.  It is the agricultural workers who are most at risk from snake-bite, but the number of deaths has been greatly reduced through the ongoing work of Costa Rica's Instituto Clodomiro Picado, which has developed anti-venoms and public education.

The word 'snake' in Spanish is usually translated as Culebra or Serpiente.  The term Vibora is really for vipers, but often applied more widely.  In addition there are many local names for the common species.  There is a relevant book by J.M. Savage titled The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica; A Herpetofauna Between the Continents, Between the Seas.  (University of Chicago Press, 2002.)  This was preceded in 2001 by Twan Leenders Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica (Zona Tropical Distributers).


The Central American Boa (Boa constrictor imperator) is a non-venomous snake that ranges from Mexico to Colombia.  This encounter was in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (596x480 pixels; 112 KB)
It is also known as the Common Boa, and has a large variation in color and patterns.  The species has been widely collected for the pet trade. Click to see big picture (421x480 pixels; 73 KB)
Epicrates cenchria has nine subspecies through tropical Central and South America.  Its most common name is the Rainbow Boa, or in Spanish, Boa Arco de Iris.  Captive. Click to see big picture (412x480 pixels; 104 KB)
"Hello there, I'm an arboreal Spilotes pullatus.  My friends just call me Tigre, and I eat those birds you are scoping for." Click to see big picture (346x480 pixels; 44 KB)
The term Tigre no doubt comes from the striped coloring, but the more formal name is the Tropical Rat Snake.  It is fairly common in southern Central America and northern South America.  Not poisonous. Click to see big picture (524x480 pixels; 108 KB)
Here a snake with similar coloring is caught swimming across the San Juan River in southern Nicaragua.  At first it looks like some sort of water snake. Click to see big picture (640x357 pixels; 70 KB)
But upon reaching shore, it climbs up into the trees like an arboreal expert. Click to see big picture (640x452 pixels; 156 KB)
The Amazonian Whipsnake (Chironius carinatus) ranges from Brazil up to Costa Rica and the Caribbean.  The most common local name seems to be Machete Savane. Click to see big picture (480x480 pixels; 121 KB)
The Amazonian Whipsnake can grow to 3 meters length, and while not venomous, it is said to be aggressive.  This one in Colombia looks definitely unfriendly. Click to see big picture (584x480 pixels; 158 KB)
The Parrot Snake (Leptophis ahaetulla) may be found from south Mexico to the Amazon, with some twelve subspecies.  It is less dangerous than it looks. parrot snake
Tantilla is a genus of small, nocturnal species that are sometimes referred to as Centipede Snakes, when they are referred to at all.  Likely Tantilla alticola. Click to see big picture (446x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Dendrophidion is a genus of neotropical snakes that are known as Forest Racers.  There are at least nine species, and I am not sure which this one from northeastern Panama has claim to. Click to see big picture (640x247 pixels; 87 KB)
The False Coral Snake (Erythrolamprus bizona) at the Serpentarium Monteverde.  This has a range from Costa Rica to Venezuela, and tends to eat other snakes.  It is not venomous and only mimics coral snakes.  Note that the yellow bands are enclosed in black. Click to see big picture (498x480 pixels; 111 KB)
This skin from one of six varieties of the Central American Coral Snake (Micrurus nigrocinctus) shows the rhyme for telling if you were bitten by a coral or false coral, 'yellow beside red-- you're dead'.  There are, however, a couple species of false corals with a similar pattern.  Coralillo in Spanish. Click to see big picture (640x217 pixels; 45 KB)
Although sometimes called a coral snake, this is the Hondurian Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis), which is actually a constrictor.  It is sought for the pet trade and is here far from home in the serpentarium in Mendoza, Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 145 KB)
An Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) that I almost walked into on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica.  This venomous species can be found from Chiapis to Peru.  It is arboreal, mainly nocturnal, and goes by local names such as Bocaraca and Crotalo Carnudo. Click to see big picture (640x445 pixels; 72 KB)
The Eyelash Viper comes in many colors, which are not subspecies.  This pink version is on display at the Serpentarium at Monteverde, Costa Rica, as are the next four snakes.  The 'eyelashes' are just protruding scales over the eyes. Click to see big picture (537x480 pixels; 103 KB)
Lachesis stenophrys is the Central American Pit Viper, but usually known as the Mute Rattle, Cascabel Muda in Spanish.  It may be found from Nicaragua to Ecuador, and is noted for its potent venom. Click to see big picture (640x468 pixels; 133 KB)
The Neotropical Bird Snake (Pseustes poecilonotus) is mainly Amazonian, but ranges from Mexico to Bolivia.  Other names include Puffing Snake and Pajarera. Click to see big picture (640x350 pixels; 96 KB)
Western Hognose Pit Vipers (Porthidium ophryomegas) are confined to the forests from Guatemala to Costa Rica.  The local name is Tobaba Chinga. Click to see big picture (640x374 pixels; 143 KB)
Taylor's Pit Viper (Agkistrodon taylori) is confined to a restricted area of northeastern Mexico in nature, but is here confined to the zoo at Santa Barbara.
The most dangerous snake in Central America is the Fer de Lance (Bothrops asper).  Fast, aggressive and very poisonous, it is known as Tobaba Real or Terciopelo. Click to see big picture (640x395 pixels; 119 KB)