Snakes in Mexico: The Bad, the Beautiful and the Deadly

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snakes in Mexico: coral snake

I honestly didn’t want to write this article because snakes in Mexico are really one of my phobias. I really hate any sort of creepy crawlies and snakes are probably the number one scare factor for me.

But Mexico is known not just for beaches, but also it’s exceptional wildlife. Some of the most popular animals that tourists flock there to search out in the wild include sea turtles, whale sharks, jaguars—and yes (gasp!), even snakes!

There’s a whopping 381 different species slithering around Mexico right now. You can only imagine what you might see while on vacation!

Whether you’re planning to scratch Mexico off your bucket list or interested in knowing what wildlife this country has to offer, I think the snakes of Mexico are worth getting to know. 

These fascinating – slightly creepy– creatures are a huge part of the diverse wildlife there. While many species pose no threat at all, some have venom that can be deadly if not treated quickly enough.

What kind of snakes live in Mexico?

With a whopping 400 different species of snakes, Mexico is one snake-lover’s paradise. Some are dangerous and will kill you in seconds with just their venomous bite; others could be as harmless as your pet goldfish!

If you want to avoid being exposed to the dangers these slithery creatures can present, it’s best that you get acquainted with them first.

You need to be ready in case you come into contact with one of these hissing snakes and you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with.

Mexico is home to a lot of snakes, some dangerous and others not so much. The viper family includes deadly Mexican rattlesnakes alongside the infamous Fer de Lance snake. In a nutshell, these are mainly the two creatures you should avoid at all costs.

You may also come across coral snakes which can often be brightly coloured with different patterns on their skin. The different snake designs confuse predators from other species looking for an easy meal!

Snakes in Mexico: The Dangerous Fer-de-Lance

snakes in mexico: Fer de Lance

The deadly fer-de-lance snake, named for its spearhead shaped head, is one of the most venomous species in all South America.

With a habitat that includes forests and riverbanks in Mexico and several other countries south Mexico,  this copper colored creature should be treated with extreme caution when encountered on your travels.

Fer-de-Lance snakes, also known as the ‘lance head’ snake are olive green in colour with dark markings. Their color can vary depending on where they live and they can grow to be anywhere from 5ft long to a huge 9ft!

The Fer-de-Lance snake is one of the deadliest creatures in the world. Every bite contains a massive 105mgs of venom, which can be deadly to humans! A typical 50 mg dose from this creature would kill you; therefore it’s important not to take risks when dealing with these types of snakes.

But even though the Fer-de-Lance is one of the most venomous snakes in Mexico,  humans usually don’t make it onto its menu. It typically eats rodents and lizards instead! 

That being said, you should steer clear just to be safe because even a single bite can kill an adult human within hours due to swelling from around their body’s blood vessels.

Snakes in Mexico: Mexican Black Kingsnake

The Mexican Black Kingsnake is a creature of extremes. They range in size from the extremely large to miniscule, and can be found anywhere on land with just about any type of ecosystem imaginable.

These “serpientes de Mexico” are beautiful creatures that shimmer like an oyster shell when exposed to light thanks to their bluish-black scales.

Their scales have small amounts of iridescence within them giving off hues ranging from pearl white to black opal while maintaining an eggshell sheen.

It’s no wonder that the Mexican Black Kingsnake has such a beautiful color pattern. The colors are said to imitate those of poisonous snakes, making it easier for them to catch their prey by fooling potential predators into thinking they’re venomous themselves!

When hunting rodents and other small mammals as prey, this snake wraps around its victim’s body with such force that all the l air escapes from the animal through constriction. The snake can than kill and consume their prey.

Despite their sinister appearance, the Mexican Black Kingsnake is not venomous. They are sometimes sought after as pets because they are generally docile creatures!

Coral Snake

Snakes in Mexico: Coral Snake
Snakes in Mexico: Coral Snake

The coral snake is a  small brightly colored snake which you would be forgiven for thinking is kind of cute.

They might seem harmless but don’t let that fool you because there are some species who have venomous bites. In Mexico there are over 60 types of Coral Snakes but not all these snakes use their poison to kill prey as most do. 

The small size of a Coral Snake is what can make it so dangerous. The fangs are relatively small and they have to be close enough for their venomous bite to do its thing! 

The fact that these snakes live in hot climates also means humans often come across them outside or when hiking through forests at night.

It’s really not worth taking any risks with one of these tiny but deadly creatures – unless you’re an expert snake charmer…

Coral snakes can certainly be one of the most venomous animals in North America. They have a tendency to live in forests and woodland areas where they burrow underground.

It’s important to watch out for them because when they are hunting prey such as lizards, insects or other small lizards their habitat allows plenty of cover underneath leaves and debris.

Snakes in Mexico: Yucatan Neotropical Rattlesnake

mexican rattlesnake
Snakes in Mexico: mexican rattlesnake

The Yucatan Neotropical Rattlesnake is a type of Pit Viper that can be found in Central America, Mexico and across the entire Yucatan Peninsula.

These snakes thrive in dry habitats so you are most likely to find them living on open ground or forests with low vegetation where they hunt for prey like rodents, rabbits and birds during the day time.

The Yucatan Neotropical rattlesnake is kind of a  strange creature and relies on its appearance to scare away predators. 

When threatened, the snake shakes it’s tail quickly from side-to-side causing scales to click against each other. The sound of these clicks may seem frightening but this actually serves as an effective tool for keeping hungry animals away!

The Yucatan Neotropical Rattlesnake is definitely another venomous species on our list. Whilst not as deadly as the Fer-de-Lance, this rattlesnake tends to feast on small mammals and rodents but still poses a threat for humans in Mexico. 

Being bitten by one of these snakes can cause severe pain, blistering and swelling; you might even lose an arm! Luckily it rarely attacks because they usually preoccupy themselves with their natural prey like rabbits or squirrels so keep your eyes peeled just in case!

What if you don’t have any idea what the Yucatan Neotropical Rattlesnake looks like? There’s really no single pattern to look out for. They come in a lot of  colors and sizes! 

If you’re looking for this type of snake, keep an eye out for their light grey or black body with white diamonds covering them all over – they’ll be hard to miss when meeting one face-to-face.

Hopefully you won’t have a chance to meet it in person though!

Snakes in Mexico: Milk Snake

Snakes in Mexico: Sinaloa Milk Snake

The Sinaloan Milk Snake is a dangerously beautiful creature with an elegant, stylish appearance. This snake’s skin features different colors that blend well together and its tail resembles the shape of a whip when it moves through the air at high speeds. 

The scientific name for this animal refers to exactly where you can find them: Lampropeltis Triangulum Sinaloa or in English- “Sinaloan milk snake”. 

As their names suggest these snakes are found on rocky hillsides throughout northern Mexico typically living near dry areas such as deserts. They usually love to hunt small mammals like mice, birds, and even other smaller reptiles from time to time!

The Sinaloan Milk Snake is a docile species of snake that rarely bites and excretes strong-smelling milk. It has an unusual blood-red body with white bands, which gives off the impression of being dangerous but it’s not. This animal seems to be one of the most popular types for pet owners; in fact, there are few snakes as friendly!

The Sinaloa Milk Snake may have gained their name because when threatened they release “milk” (pretty foul smelling).

A full-grown milk snake can be anywhere from 50 to 70 inches long and with its gaudy colors and length, it looks like an intimidating animal. 

Fortunately for all of us who are terrified by the thought of being bitten (including me), these snakes are one of the least poisonous serpents in Mexico!

What is the Most Poisonous Snake in Mexico?

Of all the snakes found across Mexico, surely one of the most deadly dangerous animals is the Fer-de-Lance.

The bite from a Fer-de Lance snake can cause swelling, bruising, paralysis or tissue damage depending on where it bites you. If left untreated can prove fatal.

Luckily victims are able to be treated but a bite needs to be cared for quickly because not doing so could definitely lead to death.

How Many Poisonous Snakes are in Mexico?

There are many kinds of snakes in Mexico, but the most venomous snakes are from both Colubrid and Viper families.

Some people think that all venomous bites will be fatal to humans; this really isn’t true. There’s a good chance you will survive a snake bite as long as you get medical care soon after it happens.

So, now you’re more clued up on the snakes in Mexico – are you seriously freaked out? Well don’t be, just be informed.

Mexico is a country full of rich history and lively unique culture. It’s home to some of the rarest wildlife around too. Of course, chances are you won’t see snakes at all, maybe just an iguana or green sea turtle. 

What do you think? Would you decide to stay away from Mexico because of the snakes? Let me know below.

And what about the 5 other Things you Must Know About Mexico? Read the article here.


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Kim Bullock

August 4, 2021 12:02 am

Thanks for the info. What about water snakes? Are they there and are they dangerous?

Shannon

August 4, 2021 12:56 am

Hi Kim
The Yellow-bellied Sea Snake is the only Sea Snake found in Mexican oceans and they are not dangerous. Don’t worry and enjoy Mexico!

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