7 Slowest Snakes In The World

Eastern Hognose Snake with flattened neck on sandy soil with grass. They have rectangular spots down the middle of the back that may resemble eyespots.
© IHX/Shutterstock.com

Written by Cindy Rasmussen

Updated: August 2, 2023

Share on:

Advertisement


When it comes to slow animals you may think of the tortoise and the hare. The Guinness Book of World Records has a record for the slowest tortoise. The giant tortoise “wins” this title with a whopping speed of .23 mph, traveling 14 feet 11 inches in 43.5 seconds (that’s the length of a small living room). Snakes have to slither to get around, so they have a disadvantage compared to four cheetah legs, for example. Some snakes are faster than others, so what are the slowest snakes? There is not a lot of research on this, in the same way, there’s not a list of the slowest runners in the US, but there are some snakes that are typically slower.

This is our list of the 7 slowest snakes in the world!

Where Do They Live?

The slowest snakes in the world live in different environments across the globe. Some of them dwell in desert environments where a lot of movement would require too much energy expenditure. Some live with access to water, like the Burmese python, which allows them to move much quicker. Finally, several live in locations where they can hide easily under rocks and can burrow.

Here are the 7 slowest snakes in the world:

1. Rosy Boa

Slowest Animals In North America

One of the slowest snakes is the rosy boa. It is a common pet because of its easygoing personality.

©Jason Mintzer/Shutterstock.com

The rosy boa is repeatedly referred to as one of the slowest snakes. These snakes are popular pets so people have a lot of experience with them. They are known to be friendly, docile snakes that also move quite slowly. These reptiles which are capable of living between 15 – 20 years in the wild are capable of moving at one mile per hour.

In the wild, they live in the Mojave Desert and spend most of their time hidden behind or beneath rocks. They are capable of snatching prey, like a desert mouse, quickly with fangs and then wrapping their bodies around them as a constrictor snake to kill their prey. Instead of quickly scurrying away, to keep safe from predators they will tuck their head in and curl up in a ball with just their tail sticking out.

They are one of the smallest boas and only get to be around 3 feet long. There are only 2 species of boas in the United States, the rosy boa and the rubber boa.

2. Rubber Boa

Rubber Boa

These slow snakes will curl up in a ball and tuck their head to stay safe from predators instead of running away.

©Matt Jeppson/Shutterstock.com

Rubber boas are non-patterned snake that is all brown or tan on their back with a cream-colored belly. They live in the western US from southern California up the coast to British Columbia and have a lifespan of 5 – 10 years in the wild. They only get to be around 2 feet long ranging from 21-26 inches and are not thick-bodied snakes. The northern rubber boas have adapted to the cooler weather in the northern US by being able to keep the temperature around their head (safeguarding their brains) at a higher temp than their body. Similar to rosy boas, instead of “running” away they will curl up in a ball and protect their head with just their tail sticking out. No need to be fast – what’s the rush?

3. Brahminy Blindsnake

Brahminy Blindsnakes are small, thin, and shiny silver gray, charcoal gray, or purple.

Brahminy blindsnakes are tiny snakes with tiny eyes. They are blind, so they probably shouldn’t be running around too fast!

©Radiant Reptilia/Shutterstock.com

If you are a blind snake you probably don’t want to go too fast. You will probably rely on your other senses to keep you safe and to find prey. That is exactly what brahminy blindsnakes do. These snakes are tiny. They’re sometimes mistaken for earthworms, they are that small. They range in size from 4-6 inches… inches not feet! They are universal in color, and it is hard to tell their front from their back. These snakes are not segmented like an earthworm, and if you zoom in on their head you will see two tiny black eyes and maybe catch a glimpse of their tiny tongue sticking out. They are burrowers and spend much of their time underground or under rocks and leaf piles. If they are threatened, instead of running away, they release a foul smell, so they don’t need to be fast!

4. Threadsnake

Smallest Snakes: Barbados Thread snake

Threadsnakes are so small they can fit on a quarter. They spend much of their time underground.

©John Oldale / CC BY-SA 3.0 – Original / License

The Threadsnake is another blind snake that doesn’t need to be fast. These slowest snakes in the world are so small they can curl up on the face of a quarter! They are very skinny – skinnier than an earthworm and only get to be 4 inches long. They are slow because they don’t need to be fast. Threadsnakes are burrowing snake that spends much of their time underground. They “hunt” for the eggs of termites and ants, so they don’t have to chase after live prey. There are over 140 varieties of these tiny snakes that can be found in North and South America, Mexico, Barbados, Africa, and Asia.

5. Burmese Python

Burmese Python stretched out on grass.

Burmese Pythons can only “slither” around 1 mile per hour. One of the slowest snakes in the world.

©Yatra/Shutterstock.com

The Burmese python is the opposite of the thread snake and is one of the largest snakes in the world. They can get to be 23 feet long and weigh over 200 pounds! Like the green anaconda, these snakes are good swimmers and spend a lot of time in the jungles and marshy waters of Southeast Asia. They have also been introduced to the marshes in the Everglades in Florida where they are an invasive species. For forty years they have been wrecking the ecosystem there killing off many of the raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and bobcats. On land, these reptiles which are capable of living for 20 years in the wild are pretty slow and only slither about 1 mile per hour.

6. Kenyan Sand Boa

egyptian sand boa

One of the slowest snakes, the Kenyan Sand Boa doesn’t need to be fast because it hides in burrows and waits for its prey to come to it.

©reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

The Kenyan sand boa is similar to the rosy boa in that it is a smaller burrowing boa constrictor. They live in northeastern Africa and are not native to the US but are sometimes kept as pets in the US. The Kenyan sand boa is an orange snake with dark brown splotches. Capable of moving 1 mile per hour, it has a lifespan of 20 years or even 30 when provided expert care.

Pit vipers have triangle heads, but Kenyan boas don’t seem to have much of a head at all with their body and head all being the same size. They get to be 15-20 inches long and are not thick-bodied snakes. As a burrowing snakes, they wait for prey in their burrows, so they don’t need to be fast to chase or hunt. They can quickly snatch a passing mouse, but they ambush their prey by hiding in their burrows.

7. Eastern Hognose (Slowest to Run Away)

eastern hognose snake

The Eastern Hognose snake, if threatened, flattens out its head and gapes its mouth open with rear fangs exposed.

©Mike Wilhelm/Shutterstock.com

The Eastern hognose snake gets the “slowest snake in the world to run away” award due to the elaborate ritual it performs before finally running away. If an Eastern hognose snake is threatened it will initially puff its head out to make it look bigger, raise its body to look like a cobra, hiss, and strike, but it won’t bite. If that doesn’t scare the predator (or person) away it will then thrash around like it is hurt, trying to scare the predator away. Lastly, if that doesn’t work it plays dead! It will lie on its back and freeze and it will even let its tongue hang out the side of its mouth. Very dramatic. By that time most snakes could be a mile away. Eastern hognoses have turned-up noses they use for digging burrows so they are also burrowing snakes.

Summary Of The 7 Slowest Snakes In The World

RankSnakeNative Location
1Rosy BoaNorth and South America, Mexico, Barbados, Africa, and Asia
2Rubber BoaNorthwestern United States to British Columbia
3Brahminy BlindsnakeSouthern Asia (now found in Miami)
4ThreadsnakeNorth and South America, Mexico, Barbados, Africa and Asia
5Burmese PythonAsia
6Kenyan Sand BoaEastern Africa
7Eastern HognoseNorth America

Other Slow Animals In The World

There is no shortage of slow animals in the world and at the top of that list is the three-toed sloth. The sloth is considered the world’s slowest animal, which can be blamed on its incredibly slow metabolism. Spending most of their days in the treetops, not moving much, when they do get going it is at the high-speed pace of one foot per minute. This mammal spends the majority of its day sleeping, around 15 to 20 hours, and comes down from its tree perch only once a week to use the bathroom. As a result of being so slow, algae grows on the fur of the sloth which acts as a camouflage and keeps them hidden from predators.

Slowest Animals: Starfish

Starfish move one yard per minute.

©Vojce/Shutterstock.com

The starfish, also known as a sea star, has a body that is comprised of a harder top and underside that has 15,000 little tube feet that helps them grasp surfaces and propel itself at the incredibly breakneck speed of one yard per minute. Found along every coast in the world, most starfish have five arms, although some can grow up to 40, and can regenerate their lost limbs. Although they are called starfish, they are not true fish as they do not have gills, scales, or fins and are rather Echinoderms, putting them in the same family as the sand dollar and the sea urchin.

Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda

Every day A-Z Animals sends out some of the most incredible facts in the world from our free newsletter. Want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a "snake island" where you're never more than 3 feet from danger, or a "monster" snake 5X larger than an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you'll start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.



Share this post on:
About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.