A tropical island nation in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica is home to seven known species of snake, none of which are venomous. According to Real Jamaica Vacations, the island's snake population was once much larger, but due to housing expansion, farming and the introduction of the mongoose in 1872, their numbers have been greatly reduced.
Jamaican Yellow Boa
The Jamaican yellow boa (Epicrates subflavus) is a protected species on Jamaica. It is the largest snake species on the island, capable of growing up to 6 1/2 feet long. It is nocturnal, resting in trees and on warm rocks during the day, and venturing out only at night to hunt for lizards, insects, frogs and rodents.
Jamaican Blind Snake
Typhlops jamaicensis, the Jamaican blind snake, is a primitive snake that lives under rocks, logs and termite hills. As its name suggests, its vision is extremely limited. Its eyes are reduced to two dark spots under the skin and it is able to distinguish only darkness and light. The Jamaican blind snake typically feeds on the bodily fluids of small insects like ants and termites.
Tropidophis, or thunder snakes (also called tropes or dwarf boas), are small to medium-size reptiles with dazzling color patterns. Three closely related species live in Jamaica. They feed on small vertebrates. Thunder snakes have a very notable defense mechanism: when threatened, they spontaneously bleed from their mouths and roll up in a tight ball to protect their heads.
Alsophis ater, commonly known as the black racer, is, according to King Snake rarely seen, most likely due to its vulnerability to the mongoose. A swift and voracious hunter, this snake is active only during the day, searching for frogs, lizards, birds and rodents, which they consume live. It rests at night, taking cover in burrows or under logs and rocks.
According to the Jamaican Protected Areas Trust, three species of Arrhyton, commonly called garden or grass snakes, reside in Jamaica. These small snakes have excellent eyesight and are swift hunters of fish, frogs, lizards and other small vertebrates. They typically reside close to permanent water sources, spending their time in trees and in piles of composting plant material.
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Yvette Sajem has been a professional writer since 1995. Her work includes greeting cards and two children's books. A lifelong animal advocate, she is active in animal rescue and transport, and is particularly partial to senior and special needs animals.