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Snakes

Angolan Python

(Anchieta's Dwarf Python)

Angolan pythons are reddish brown to black with white markings. They have a yellow belly and five heat sensitive pits on each side of the head.

Habitat/Range:

Found in southern Angola and Namibia, this snake prefers rocky outcrops on mountain terrain or brushy plains.

Size:

Length: 6 feet.

Due to civil war in Angola, these snakes are rarely found in captivity.

Least Concern. They are used in the international pet trade.

Conservation Action:

These snakes live in some protected areas.

Burmese Python

Burmese pythons are darkly colored, with reddish to brown and dark cream colored rectangles. They have an arrow shaped marking on the top of their head. Males are usually smaller than females.

Habitat/Range:

These snakes prefer tropic and sub tropic areas of south Asia.

Size:

Length: Burmese Up to 24.5 feet. Weight: Burmese Up to 310lbs.

  • Burmese pythons can hold their breath for up to 30 minutes!
  • Burmese pythons are an invasive species in Florida and are thriving there, even though they are a vulnerable species in their native habitat.

IUCN lists as vulnerable. The main threat to these snakes is the illegal wildlife trade. Their skins are used for decoration, leather and musical instruments. They are also sold as pets and hunted for meat. They are also affected by habitat degradation such as slashing and burning. In Vietnam it is listed as critically endangered.

Conservation Action:

They are a protected species in Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Indonesia. Listed on CITES Appendix II. Where it is invasive in Florida, measures are being taken to control or eradicate the species.

Common Kingsnake

They are black or dark brown with a white or yellow spot on their scales which lend to their name. They have a yellow belly with black markings.

Habitat/Range:

The speckled kingsnake prefers prairies, brushy areas, forest edges, rocky, wooded hillsides, and the edges of swamps or marshes.

Size:

Length: 3-4 feet.

They are also known as the “salt-and-pepper snake” due to their coloration.

Pet trade, human interference, and habitat loss affect this species. The speckled kingsnake helps us by making sure that other animal’s populations don’t get to be too densely inhabited.

Copperhead

Copperheads have reddish-brown bodies covered in a crossband pattern consisting of tan, copper, and rich brown colors that extend throughout the body. Their heads are triangular and a solid brown color. Each subspecies of copperhead has variations in color and pattern. Males are typically longer than females and juveniles are grayer with a yellow-tipped tail.

Range/Habitat:

The southern copperhead range extends through Massachusetts, westward to Texas and southeastern Nebraska. They can inhabit a variety of habitats including forests, wet woodlands, edges of swamps, stream beds and gulches. They can also be found in and around man-made environments.

Size:

Length: 30-53in.

  • Copperheads are a venomous snake, however, their venom is somewhat milder compared to other venomous snakes and rarely results in death in a healthy human.
  • The yellow-tipped tail on juveniles is thought to help lure small prey. They will move the tail mimicking caterpillar movements, bringing their prey within striking distance.
  • Kingsnakes and opossums are reported to be immune to copperhead venom.

Least Concern. Certain areas of the US are experiencing declines in population and they are considered endangered in Iowa and Massachusetts. Their threats include habitat destruction, invasive plants, insecticide application, and road mortality.

Cottonmouth

This venomous snake enjoys being around water and is named for the white lining of its mouth. They have triangular shaped heads, heat sensing pits which help identify warm blooded animals and is found between the eyes and nostrils. Their eyes have vertically slit pupils. They are rough in texture due to their keeled scales which provide ridges on the scales. They are usually olive-brown with paler bellies.

Habitat/Range:

This snake is found in north central Texas and prefers streams, river floodplains, swamps, wetlands and marshes.

Size:

Length: 2-6 feet.

They vibrate their tails when threatened in order to mimic a rattlesnake.

Least Concern. They are threatened by human activity which includes persecution and habitat loss.

Conservation Action:

In some states, they are protected under native snake laws. They are endangered in Indiana.

Eyelash Palm Pit Viper

Eyelash vipers can be found in a variety of color morphs. They are most commonly olive green but can also be bright yellow, pink, green, silver, dark grey or brown. Faint markings of various colors can be seen on the body. The tips of the tail are yellow or green and their undersides are pale yellow often with darker spots. Habitat directly affects the coloration of these snakes. They are characterized by a prehensile tail used for climbing, a triangular head, and distinctive keeled scales above the eyes that gives them a “browed” appearance. Their scales are ridged to give them a better grip on vegetation. Females tend to be larger than males and juveniles look the same as adults.

Range/Habitat:

Eyelash vipers range from southern Mexico through northwestern Ecuador and western Venezuela. They prefer moist tropical forests but can also be found in woodlands and shrublands both at lower and higher elevations.

Size:

1-2.75 feet.

  • Eyelash viper venom is hemotoxic, meaning it destroys red blood cells. The venom also contains procoagulants and haemorrhagins, and affects both the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system.
  • Scientists aren’t quite sure what the purpose of the “eyelash” scales are on these snakes. It is thought that they aid in camouflage by breaking up the snakes silhouette and may protect their eyes when moving through thick vegetation.

IUCN has not evaluated this animal and the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species has removed them from their list. They are most likely threatened by deforestation due to agriculture, urbanization and the timber industry. No fatalities from eyelash vipers has ever been reported. Due to their sometimes yellow coloration, these snakes have accidentally been shipped in banana boxes all over the world.

Garden Tree Boa

They vary in coloration and can be tan to black with yellow to red touches. They have five stripes on their head with yellow, gray, or red eyes and a black tongue.

Habitat/Range:

This species is arboreal and prefers the high humidity of the Amazon rainforest. They may also be found in savannas or dry forests.

Behavior:

These snakes live solitary lives and are capable of being active both during the day and night. They tend to be aggressive and will bite humans, however they are non-venomous.

These snakes have claw-like remnants of vestigial hind limbs.

This species has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List. They are common in the pet trade, though they can be aggressive. Their populations are not considered threatened.

Green Tree Python

As their name implies, these snakes are a bright green color. On their back, they have a ridge of scales that are white or yellow that form a broken or continuous line down their backs. Their stomachs are generally yellow. These pythons do have heat sensing pits on their upper lips. Juveniles that are yellow in color are found throughout the range and red juvenile morphs are found in parts of Indonesia and New Guinea. The same clutch can have both red and yellow morphs. The juveniles have white blotches edged in black or brown running down their backs. They also have a white streak edged in black that runs from the nostril, through the eye to the back of the head. When they are young, females are may have longer and wider heads than males of similar size. Some adults may never fully change from their juvenile coloring.

Habitat/Range:

Green tree pythons are found in New Guinea, eastern Indonesia, surrounding islands, and the Cape York Peninsula of Australia. They inhabit tropical rainforest. As juveniles they like to hang out in forest edges or near gaps in the canopy, but as adults they are found in closed-gapped canopy.

Size:

Length: 5 feet, Up to 7 feet.

  • Green tree pythons have a prehensile tail to aid them in climbing.
  • Juvenile snakes change color around 6 months to 1 year in age. This does not have to do with sexual maturity. Instead, it has to do with length. Once the snake reaches a certain length, it can change its feeding habits. As a juvenile, it lived in forest gaps (where lighter coloring would provide better camouflage) where smaller prey lives. As an adult, they inhabit closed-gap canopy (where green provides more camouflage) where larger prey is found.

IUCN has not determined their status as of yet. They are one of the most common pet snakes. Some of these snakes are captive bred, but others are wild caught. Indigenous people in New Guinea hunt this species for food. They are most likely affected by habitat degradation as well.

Conservation Action:

Listed CITES Appendix II. In Australia it is illegal to capture wild green tree pythons or import them from New Guinea.

Macklot's Python

(Savu or Sawu Python)

They have white eyes which are unique. These pythons are dark brown or black in coloration.

Habitat/Range:

These snakes are found only on the island of Sawu in Indonesia.

Size:

Weight: 1-3lbs.

This species has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List.

Mexican Burrowing Python

Mexican burrowing pythons are dark in color with patches of white scales. However, occasionally almost entirely white snakes can be observed after shedding. They have small eyes, a narrow head, and a shovel shaped snout which is used for burrowing.

Range/Habitat:

The Mexican burrowing python can be found along the Pacific coast of Mexico, down through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. They inhabit a variety of areas including: tropical, moist, and dry forests, mangroves, beaches, as well as dry inland valleys.

Size:

Length: 3-5 feet.

Mexican burrowing pythons are not in the python family. They belong to the Loxocemidae family, which is comprised of only this one species.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. These snakes are sometimes exported for the pet trade and may be persecuted by humans.

Conservation Action:

They are found in several protected areas throughout their range. Mexican burrowing pythons are protected under Mexican law.

Mexican Moccasin

(Taylor’s Cantil)

Thick bodied with large heads and long, slender tails. The heads have five pale stripes, one vertically on the front of the snout and two laterally on each side of the head. It has black bands that cross the back separated by gray or brown areas that often contain orange. The chin is white or yellow and the stomach is checked with black or gray markings. Juveniles have a yellow, white or pink tail tip.

Range/Habitat:

Taylor’s cantil are native to northeastern Mexico. They inhabit mesquite-grassland, thornforest, and tropical deciduous forests. These snakes are often found near small bodies of water.

Size:

Length: 2-8 feet.

  • Taylor’s cantil has only been recognized as a species since 2000.
  • Taylor’s cantil is names in honor or American herpetologist Edward Harrison Taylor who focused on Mexican reptiles and amphibians.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. There is little information on this snake because it is rarely found. Due to its rarity, it is often sought out by collectors. It is also threatened by habitat loss and modification for cattle grazing.

Milksnake

They have orange, black, and white stripes.

Habitat/Range:

Found throughout central East Coast North America, these snakes prefer farmlands, woods, outbuildings, meadows, river bottoms, bogs, rocky hillsides, and rodent runways.

Size:

Length: 2-3 feet.

This species has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List.

Mole Snake

Brown, gray, or black in color with juveniles having mottled markings which fade with time, these snakes love to burrow and have an aggressive self-defense display. They have a round pupil.

Habitat/Range:

This snake prefers grasslands but is present in nearly all habitats and is found in southern Africa.

Size:

Length: 4.6 feet.

These are one of the few snake species that give birth to live young.

This species has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List. Though they are said to be aggressive, they supposedly make good pets.

Philippine Pit Viper

The female tend to be larger than the males. They used to be thought to be sexually dichromatic with the females being yellow in color and the males being brown or silver in color, but it is now known that either sex can show a wide variety of colors. Colors can be yellow, brown, silver, orange-yellow, beige, and have spots/bands or no spots/bands.

Habitat/Range:

Found in the Islands the Philippines these snakes are found in a wide variety of habitats as long as they have cover to hide in.

Size:

Length: 3 feet.

  • Also known as McGregor’s Pitviper and Batanes Bamboo Pitviper.
  • Very little is known about this species.

IUCN lists this as a species of least concern and data deficient. Pressures from the pet trade and habitat loss may be a concern in the future.

Conservation Action:

They occur in some protected areas.

Pine Snake

As their name implies, these snakes are black in color with a small head compared to their bodies. What distinguishes them from black racers is their keeled, or ridged scales. Juveniles are born with blotchy patterns that fade with age.

Range/Habitat:

The black pine snake is from southwestern Alabama, through southern Mississippi, and into southeastern Louisiana. They prefer upland, longleaf pine forests, but may also inhabit pitcher plant bogs and river/stream corridors.

Size:

Length: 4-7.5 feet.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service lists as a threatened species. The state of Mississippi classifies it as an endangered species. They are threatened by habitat loss due to logging, agriculture, development, and the suppression of natural fires. Their preferred habitat, longleaf pine forests, are one of the most endangered habitats in the nation.


Conservation Action:

The Wildlife Conservancy is attempting to protect and restore longleaf pine forests, carry out controlled burns in the forests, and track and monitor these snakes. The USFWS is looking at protecting areas for this species.

Puff Adder

This snake has a large triangular head with large nostrils that point upwards. They have yellow-brown to light-brown bodies covered in pale-edged, black/brown, v-shaped/u-shaped markings that run the length of the body. Their stomach is white or yellow, sometimes with brown spots.

Habitat/Range:

Puff adders inhabit sub-Saharan Africa and a small part of the Arabian Peninsula. They are found in grasslands and savannahs.

Size:

Length: 3.2-6.2 feet. Weight: 13lbs.

  • This snake gets its name from blowing out air when threatened rather than moving away.
  • They are one of the fastest snakes in the world if not the fastest. It can strike both forward and to the side in 0.25 seconds!
  • A female in a Czech zoo gave birth to 156 young once, the most recorded of any snake species anywhere.
  • Although the puff adder isn’t the most venomous species of snake in Africa, it is considered responsible for the majority of snakebite fatalities in Africa. This is most likely due to its wide distribution, its frequent inhabitation of densely populated areas and its aggressive nature.

IUCN has not evaluated this species yet. It is one of the most common and widespread in Africa.

Pygmy Rattlesnake

This snake is named for its small size. It has a small tail with rarely more than a few rattles on it. Coloration varies greatly depending on location. It can have a background color of gray, brown, black, pink or reddish. A dark line runs vertically through the eye and down the face. Dark, circular markings line the back and a thin, reddish-orange stripes runs down the mid-body line. Juveniles resemble adults except for a yellow tipped tail. Facial pits for detecting heat are located on the face.

Habitat/Range:

The pygmy rattlesnake is found throughout the Southeastern United States. They can be found in wet habitats such as floodplains, rice fields, marshes, swamps and forests.

Size:

Length – 1-2 feet.

  • There are three different subspecies of the pygmy rattlesnake: Carolina, Dusky and Western.
  • While waiting for prey to venture by, they will remain coiled, sometimes for as long as 2-3 weeks!

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. Currently, no major threats are known to exist, but habitat loss may be a threat to some populations.

Conservation Action:

Occur in protected areas. They are protected in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Red Spitting Cobra

As its name implies, this snake is red in color. They have a broad black throat and black tear-drop markings underneath the eyes.

Range/Habitat:

Red spitting cobras inhabit eastern Africa, from Somalia to Tanzania. They are found in savannahs and grasslands.

Size:

Length: 5 feet.

Spitting cobras are able to shoot their venom up to 6 feet! They are also almost always able to hit their target in the eyes, some species being able to hit their target 10 out of 10!

IUCN has not assessed this species as of yet.

Reticulated Python

These snakes are covered in a complex geometric pattern that incorporates a variety of colors. The back is made up of a diamond like pattern, usually surrounded by smaller darker markings with light centers. The head has no markings except a black line running from each eye to the corner of its jaws. Females are often larger than males.

Range/Habitat:

Reticulated pythons can be found throughout Southeast Asia including the Nicobar Islands, Burma through Indochina, and Borneo, Sulawesi, Ceram and Timor in the Malay Archipelago. They inhabit humid tropical rainforests and are usually found near a water source.

Size:

Length: Up to 25+ feet. Weight: Up to 350lbs.

  • Females will keep their eggs warm by coiling around them. They will “shiver,” or contract their muscles, to increase the temperature of the eggs. The females will not leave the eggs to eat until they hatch.
  • Reticulated pythons are known to eat deer, even with antlers. If the antlers are small enough, they can simply be swallowed and digested. If not, the snake can break the antlers so they lie flat against the body or eat the deer hind quarters first (rare) and partially digest the deer until the antlers fall off before swallowing the head.
  • This snake is the longest snake in the world.

IUCN has not evaluated this species. These snakes are killed for their skins, for traditional medicines, and because people fear them. They also are threatened by the Asian tradition of blood drinking and gall bladder removal. Rapid growth rate, and high fertility are the only things helping this snake survive.

Conservation Action:

Listed on CITES Appendix II.

Rock Rattlesnake

As their name implies, they do have a banded pattern. Males usually have a gray background color growing to green around the middle, with black stripes. Females tend to have a uniformly gray background color with black stripes. These snakes typically have 13-21 bands running down the body and 1-6 bands on the tail. Their scales are ridged and they have rattles on their tail like all rattlesnakes. On their face, they have heat sensing pits and vertical pupils. Males are usually larger and have longer tails in proportion to their bodies than females. Newly hatched rattlesnakes have yellow tipped tails, as is common with many snakes.

Range/Habitat:

This snake is found in southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, the mountains around El Paso Texas, and south to Jalisco Mexico. It is often found in rocky habitats such as slopes, canyons and rock outcrops. It can also be found in semi-desert grasslands and forests.

Size:

Length: 2-2.7 feet.

This snake is one of four subspecies of Rock Rattlesnakes.

IUCN list the rock rattlesnake (Crotalus Lepidus) as a species of least concern. They are affected by poaching, removal and habitat destruction.

Western Rat Snake

As the name implies, this snake’s body is black except for a white chin/throat and white/mottled belly. Occasionally, brown splotches of color can be seen on the body. Juvenile snakes are light gray or tan, with distinct dark brown or black blotches on the back and sides. A black band passes between the eyes and angles down toward the mouth. After a year or two of growth, the color changes to a more uniform black.

Habitat/Range:

Range from New England south through Georgia and west across the northern parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and north through Oklahoma to southern Wisconsin. Found in a variety of habitats included rocky, wooded hillsides and farmlands.

Size:

Length: 3.5-6 feet.

The black rat snake is just one of several species of rat snake found throughout the United States. Other species include the fox snake, yellow rat snake, corn snake, and gray rat snake.

IUCN lists them as a species of least concern. Their main threats are habitat loss (due to logging and land development) and human persecution.

Conservation Action:

Occur in some protected areas.

White-Lipped Tree Viper

This snake is bright green in color with a lighter, yellowish underside. It is slender with a large triangular head. As its name suggests, it white or yellow colored “lips,” chine and throat. The tail is a contrasting brown color and the eyes are yellow-orange with vertical pupils.

Habitat/Range:

White-lipped pit vipers can be found from Myanmar across southern China, south to Java and Indonesia. This snake can found in a wide variety of habitats such as mountain forests, shrubland, plains, and agricultural areas.

Behavior:

These snakes are often found off the ground in trees or bushes.

This snake is able to be found in abundancy even in habitats that have been greatly altered or degraded.

IUCN lists as a species of least concern. The greatest threat to this snake is persecution by humans. In some areas it is also harvested for food and traditional medicines.

Conservation Action:

Found in some protected areas.

Western Gaboon Viper

Gaboon vipers are very striking snakes. Their body has a base color of brown or grayish-purple. The back is covered in four sided shapes that separated by brown hourglass spaces. The sides of the body have triangular brown or purple markings separated by brown or purple blotches. The underside is light yellow with dark spots. Most of the scales on their body are ridged and keeled. Their head is large and triangular with a dark stripe running down the center and two dark spots above each side of the jaw. Their most distinct characteristic is the horn-like projections on the tip of their nose. Juveniles look the same as the adults.

Range/Habitat:

Gaboon vipers are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They inhabit rainforests and other moist, tropical habitats.

Size:

Length: 4-7 feet. Weight: 15.5-22lbs.

  • Gaboon vipers are the largest of the vipers.
  • Gaboon viper fangs are two inches long (longest fangs of any snake)!

This species has currently not been evaluated by the IUCN. Their population status is unknown but they are not believed to be threatened. They help control rodent populations but can be very harmful to humans.

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