Imagine waking up to the sound of birds singing, surrounded by nature and feeling a sense of calm. As one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world and a leader in ecotourism, Costa Rica is a country that everyone must visit. Costa Rica boasts a large diversity of wildlife and picturesque landscapes of rainforests, volcanoes and beaches. It is also home to many species of mammals, birds, frogs and of course, snakes. Home to 139 known snake species (only 22 venomous), all within a very small geographical area, makes this a perfect place for a Save The Snakes Ecotour.
Snakes are only one aspect of the tour, as you will also have the opportunity to see the local fauna such as monkeys and sea turtles and experience the local culture through our sustainable tours. The value behind a tour like ours is to share more knowledge about snakes and educate others to reduce the fear of snakes. We thought we would take the opportunity to showcase some of the amazing snake species that are found in Costa Rica (only some of which you are likely to encounter).
Boa Constrictor (Boa Constrictor): A large and usually docile snake with beautiful brown colouration. It is a nocturnal snake that can grow up to 3 meters.
Rainbow Boa (Epicrates cenchria): The Rainbow Boa, also called Boa Arcoiris, is smaller than the more famous Boa Constrictor but also more colourful and more beautiful. They come in many different colours and are a favourite among pet owners.
Neotropical Whip Snake (Masticophis mentovarius): The Neotropical Whip Snake or Sabanera de bosque seco is a great example of camouflage as its skin colouration blends very well with its surroundings. This also makes them very good at staying hidden away most of the time.
Green Parrot Snake (Leptophis ahaetulla): Sleek and slender probably best describes this snake. They feed on small lizards and insects and range up to 1.5 meters (4,9 feet) in length. In Spanish, they are called Lora falsa gigante.
Salmon Bellied Racer (Mastigodryas melanolomus): The Salmon Bellied Racer or Corredora panza salmon gets its name from its highly distinguishable, bright, salmon/pink belly. The younger snakes of this species have a darker belly to avoid predation risk. They primarily eat lizards and grow up to 1.2 meters (4 feet).
Tropical Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum ssp. micropholis): Tropical Milk Snakes resemble the colouration of Coral Snakes. This colouration helps to protect it from predators that may be confused by its colour patterns. Residing in most parts of Central America, it can reach up to 1.5 meters (4,9 feet). In Spanish, they refer to this snake as Serpiente de leche negra.
Green Rat Snake (Senticolis triaspis): The Green Rat Snake or Ratonera centroamericana can grow up to 3 meters (9,8 feet) living in forest areas. It eats a variety of prey including mammals and birds.
Neotropical Bird Snake (Phrynonax poecilonotus): The Neotropical Bird Snake, sometimes known as the puffing snake, is one of the largest snakes in Costa Rica. Bird Snakes conceal themselves in trees, hiding until the perfect moment to strike their prey. As the name suggests, it largely eats birds.
Rear-fanged Venomous Snakes
Common Road Guarder (Conophis lineatus): Known in Spanish as Guarda camino comun, the Common Garter snake is found throughout the Americas. In Costa Rica they also range in a variety of colours and often don’t get bigger than a meter.
Lyre Snake (Trimorphodon Quadruplex): Several features make this snake very distinctive. It has three types of teeth including recurved front teeth, smaller middle ones and of course the large grooved fangs. They also have V shaped triangular head. These are egg laying snakes and eat lizards, rodents and bats.
Green Vine Snake (Oxybelis fulgidus): The Green Vine Snake or Bejuquilla verde is quite a slender snake that can reach up to 2 meters (6,5 feet). It has a distinct green colour and preys on small animals like mice. To immobilize the prey, it uses toxic saliva from teeth near the back of its mouth. It is unlikely to envenomate humans and it needs to hold onto its prey for a while to inject it.
Medically Significant Venomous Snakes
Jumping Pit Viper (Atropoides mexicanus): Known as the Mano de piedra Costarricense in Spanish, this snake lunges at its prey to inject it with its venom.
Costa Rica Coral Snake (Micrurus mosquitensis): Coral Snakes are very well known snakes due to their deadly nature. It can be recognized by the yellow ring on either side of the black ring on its body. This snake is very secretive and prefers to remain underground.
Side Stripe Pit Viper (Bothriechis lateralis): The side-striped Pit Viper or Lora venenosa is a master of camouflage with a brilliant leaf green color and are found mainly in the mountainous rainforests of Costa Rica. As suggested by the name, they have a yellow white colored stripe down the side. Its prey consists of prey of small birds, rodents, lizards and frogs.
Eye Lash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii): The part that makes these snakes unique, are the modified scales above their eyes that resemble eyelashes. Don’t take too close of a look though because it will attack if harassed. It is an arboreal and nocturnal snake with a wide range in diet.
Fer De Lance (Bothrops asper): The Fer De Lance (also known as Terciopelo) is incredibly beautiful, but it is also by far the most dangerous venomous snake in Costa Rica. They are well adapted to live throughout Central America and can be found near human habitations. Because of this, it is the most common snake to have conflict with humans in Costa Rica.
Neotropical Rattlesnake (Crotalus simus): Most people are familiar with this snake. Either you have seen one in person or on your favourite nature show. The most distinct part is the warnings it gives you with a rattle of its tale. This is their sign to give you fair warning before striking. Also, known as the Cascabel neotropical in Spanish.
Bushmaster (Lachesis melanocephala): Bushmasters or Matabuey are the largest type of viper in the world. The biggest was recorded at 4 meters (13 feet) but they commonly grow only to 2-3 meters (6-9 feet). Similar to rattlesnakes, they have a spiny end to their tale that vibrates when threatened, leading to the name the mute rattler.
Hog Nosed Pit Viper (Porthidium nasutum): A relatively small snake with a beautiful brown colouration. In Costa Rica it can be found in humid forests and marginally in premontane forests. A distinctive feature of this snakes is the appearance of ‘horns’ on its snout.
Other reptiles to look out for include: the common and brown basilisk, black and green iguanas, many varieties of anole lizards and some geckos. Through this ecotour, we hope to share our passion for these wonderful animals and educate others about their importance in our natural world.