Belize has approximately 140 species of reptiles living within its’ borders. More than 1/3 of Belize’s entire reptile list, over 50, is made up of snakes. However, fortunately for humans, only 8 snake species in Belize have been proven to be poisonous.
Some have said there are as many as 10 or more venomous snake species in Belize but, so far, this has not been proven. Many locals in different areas of Belize have different names for the same snake. Thus, as a result of the lack of proper scientific classification, some locals and foreigners assume there are more than just 8 venomous snake species in Belize.
The 8 venomous snakes of Belize are listed below, alphabetically, and not by venom potency:
#1 – The Central American Coral Snake is very common and not overly aggressive but it can be deadly. In identity of this snake remember this little rhyme: if red touches yellow it is a dangerous little fellow.
#2 – The Maya Coral Snake, looking like its cousin listed above is very hard to see and, as with its cousin, not aggressive. Both of these Corals have a strong and deadly neurotoxic venom. The Maya Coral Snake is believed to be the most venomous snake in Belize.
#3 – The Eyelash Viper is a tree snake, the only venomous tree snake in Belize. A word of caution: watch were you step as they do descend from the trees. The Eyelash Viper is not aggressive though it does have a strong hemotoxic venom. The viper has a very wide rage of colors from red, yellow, brown, green, pink and even combinations of the colors just mention, with some also having black and/or brown spotting as well.
#4 – The Fer de Lance, arguably the most feared snake in Belize is often called a Tommy Goff by native Belizeans. Highly aggressive and known to almost always stand its’ ground this known fighter will not hesitate to bite. Though it is responsible for the most snake related bites and many deaths in Belize, it is its’ aggressiveness that is most responsible for the toll on humans. Though the bite of a Fer de Lance is venomous it is not immediately deadly as it digests surrounding tissue rather than stopping vital organs.
#5 – The Hognose Viper, also called the Rhino Viper, has a distinctive upturned snout about twice as high as the rest of the head and the whole body of the snake is almost never longer then 18 inches. The Hognose, like the Fer de Lance, has a strong hemotoxic venom.
#6 – The Jumping Viper, a nocturnal snake that likes to feed on lizards, rodents, and frogs. These Vipers will make their way out of daytime hiding spots, mostly ground cover such as logs, rocks, etc., in the early evening time. Jumping Vipers are short and fat so when they strike it looks as though they are jumping, hence the name.
#7 – The Mexican Moccasin belong to the Pit Viper family and is common on the areas close to the coast. However they are not as common to Caribbean coast, where Belize is, of Central America as they are on the Pacific coast.
#8 – The Neotropical rattlesnake is the only Rattlesnake in Belize. This rattlesnake is found in wetlands ranging from Canada and southward, to Argentina. This particular Rattler has a very interesting venom makeup which is actually regionally based, neurotic in the north and hemotoxic in the south. The venom differences in this species make it very dangerous as not all medical care givers have the correct anti-venom for their regions.
If you or anyone you know falls victim to a venomous snake bite here are some snake bite tips:
Call or have someone nearby call the nearest hospital emergency room immediately. If possible speak with the doctor on duty. In Belize doctors have been known to grab the refrigerated anti-venom and go to where the bitten victim is located. That doctor will know what is best to do in any given situation.
If one happens to have a commercial snake bite kit handy DO use the suction instrument that is found in the kit, placing it over the bite to help draw the venom out of the wound.
Otherwise Do NOT
- DO NOT try to suction the venom by mouth.
- DO NOT cut into a snake bite with a knife or razor.
- DO NOT raise the site of the bite above the level of the person’s heart.
- DO NOT apply a tourniquet.
- DO NOT give the person anything by mouth.
- DO NOT apply cold compresses to a snake bite.
- DO NOT allow the person to become over-exerted. If necessary, carry the person to safety DO NOT give the person stimulants or pain medications unless instructed to do so by a doctor.