- The Antiguan racer and St. Lucian racer are the top two rarest snakes in the world, both at high threat of extinction.
- Another category of very rare snakes is blind snakes. The striped, Trang, and Roxanne’s blind snakes are so rarely spotted that it’s hard to know how many, if any, still exist.
- Threats to the Aruban rattlesnake are the increased habitation of humans in Aruba and the introduction of goats, which have destroyed much of the grass that housed the snakes’ prey.
Snakes are one of those animals that many people fear while being unaware of just how prevalent in our lives they are. Aside from the arctic regions, snakes can be found in almost every environment and are usually nearby, even when we don’t see them.
Still, there are some snakes that we will never see, even at a zoo or reptile exhibit. These rare snakes live in some of the most isolated places on earth, with only a few remaining members of their species. Today, we will be looking at some of the rarest snakes in the world.
You aren’t likely to find these in your backyard!
The 8 Rarest Snakes in the World
Almost all of the rarest snakes in the world have something in common. Either they are threatened by habitat destruction by way of humans, are incredibly isolated with a dwindling population, or are being attacked by non-native predators that humans likely introduced.
Despite being the primary cause for the downfall of these snakes, humans also have the ability to save them. In many cases, these rare snake populations have made tremendous recoveries in the wake of human intervention and conservation.
Let’s go over our list of the rarest snakes in the entire world.
#1. Antiguan Racer
For a long time, the Antiguan racer was considered the rarest snake in the world. Thankfully, it isn’t classified as such today, but it is still critically threatened. The snake became threatened after the introduction of the Asian mongoose, black rats, and brown rats. These predators, plus human cohabitation, led them to the brink of extinction. At one point, they were believed to have been extinct, but a population was discovered on Great Bird Island off the coast of Antigua.
At one point, the population dipped below 150, but today, with massive conservation efforts, they have rebounded slightly and have a somewhat stable population. They are still considered critically endangered.
#2. St. Lucian Racer
The St. Lucian racer suffered a similar fate to the Antiguan racer, but it hasn’t recovered to its Caribbean cousin’s extent. Currently, the St. Lucian racer is considered the rarest snake globally, with an estimated 18 individuals left in the wild. The snake became threatened when black rats and the Asian mongoose were introduced to the island, killing large numbers of the snake and eating its eggs.
The St. Lucian racer was believed to have become extinct in 1936 but was later rediscovered in 1973 on the island of Maria Major. Today, they are the focus of conservation efforts across the island as people hope to save this native snake.
#3. Trang Blind Snake and Roxane’s Blind Snake
There are many species of blind snakes, all of them small and easy to miss. Most blind snakes burrow under the soil and rarely come up. Their underground habits, combined with how small they are, make them some of the hardest snakes to keep tabs on.
The Trang blind snake and Roxane’s blind snake are two species that are incredibly rare to this day. In fact, both species are so rare that they were never seen again after they were discovered. They are likely still around, but with how hard they are to find, it is difficult to know how many there are or where they exist, other than Thailand.
#4. Striped Blind Snake
Striped blind snakes are so rare that there isn’t much information available about them. They are small burrowing snakes that live underground, making them very hard to find. They can also be found under logs and in forest vegetation as high as 1400m above sea level. Striped blind snakes are very small, measuring only 48cm in the largest-ever specimen. They are characterized by eyes that are covered by skin to the point of near invisibility, and a series of 10 pairs of alternating dark and light stripes.
The striped blind snake was believed to have been extinct for 172 years, but a dead individual was found in 2019 in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, located in Singapore. This type of snake has been documented in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and southern Thailand. They are not dangerous to humans.
#5. Orlov’s Viper
While we don’t normally think of Russia as a place where snakes live, Orlov’s viper proves us wrong. This venomous viper lives in the Black Sea region of Russia, with a historical range that extended into the Caucasus. With how small their range is and the habit humans have of poaching them, there are estimated to be less than 250 adults in the wild. For reference, the entire territory of Orlov’s viper is only 38 square miles.
#6. Aruban Rattlesnake
As the name would have you believe, the Aruban rattlesnake is found on the Caribbean island of Aruba. Aruba is a semi-arid environment with patches of rocky desert found from the coast to the island’s interior. With the livable habitat of the snake being so small (only 9.5 square miles) and human encroachment looming, it’s no surprise there are likely fewer than 230 Aruban rattlesnakes in the wild, with 100 in captivity.
They are primarily threatened by the spreading population of human establishment and the introduction of goats that destroy the vegetation necessary for the prey of the snakes.
#7. Albany Adder
The Albany adder was first documented in 1937 and has only been documented 12 times since then. These snakes lived in the eastern and southern Cape Providence of South Africa and were considered extinct for many years.
It was only in 2016 that the remains of a dead Albany adder were discovered in a roadkill site, confirming the species is still existing. However, they are extremely rare and unlikely to be seen again anytime soon.
#8. Short-Nosed Sea Snake
The short-nosed sea snake can be found in the reefs of the Arafura Sea, a region between Australia and Western New Guinea. These snakes are often called the Sahul reed snake and are critically endangered with only two known populations. The coastal population and the Ashmore reef population are occasionally considered distinct subspecies, which, if true, would mean that the Ashmore reef snake is likely facing extinction.
The Ashmore reef population was considered extinct until a sighting in 2021 confirmed there were still short-nosed sea snakes there.
Other Snake Species That Are Endangered
This list of the 8 rarest snakes on Earth might soon become longer if we’re not able to save other snake species which are under threat of extinction.
Around the world, hundreds of snake species are endangered due to habitat loss, poaching, and climate change. Many live in small, restricted habitats, making them even more vulnerable.
A few of these species include:
- Pfeffer’s reed snakes: These snakes live in wooded areas and grasslands and are currently found in isolated populations in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.
- Peters’ bright snakes: These long, thin, brown snakes come out at night and exist only on a single island off the coast of Africa.
- March’s Palm Pit Viper: The population of venomous, tree-dwelling snakes living in the forests of Central America is in severe decline.
Find out which other snakes are on the endangered list here.
A Rare Sea Snake Species Was Discovered by a Group of Grandmothers
A group of friends aged in their 60s and 70s who call themselves “The Fantastic Grandmothers” came across the greater sea snake species, also known as olive-headed sea snakes while snorkeling in New Caledonia. Pale yellow with dark brown bands, this species is the largest sea snake in that area of the South Pacific and can grow up to 5 feet long. While these snakes are venomous, they are not aggressive and there has been no record of anyone being bitten where the population lives in Baie des Citrons, which is popular with locals and tourists.
Greater sea snakes’ tails have markings that are unique, like fingerprints, and the grandmothers have been helping scientists in New Caledonia and Australia by taking photos of each snake they discover. They have been able to collect valuable data, including information on reproduction patterns. Between 2016 and 2018, they logged 277 sightings of at least 140 different greater sea snakes.
How Many Snakes Are There in the World?
It’s not possible to determine the exact number of individual snakes in the world, especially considering their reclusive nature. We can estimate that there are 3,500 species of snakes on Earth. Of these, 600 are venomous species.
The country with the most snake species is Brazil. It has more than 375 species, including well-known constrictors such as the boa constrictor and anaconda.
And there’s good news for anyone who suffers from “ophidiophobia” (an extreme fear of snakes) — there are countries in the world that have zero snakes! Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, New Zealand, and Antarctica are all free of snakes.
Summary of the 8 Rarest Snakes in the World
Let’s take a look back at the 8 rarest snakes extant on Earth:
|2||St. Lucian Racer||Maria Major, St. Lucian Islands|
|3||Trang and Roxanne’s Blind Snakes||Thailand|
|4||Striped Blind Snake||Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Southern Thailand|
|5||Orlov’s Viper||Black Sea region of Russia|
|6||Aruban Rattlesnake||Caribbean Island of Aruba|
|7||Albany Adder||Eastern and southern Cape Providence of South Africa|
|8||Short-Nosed Sea Snake||Arafura Sea between Australia and Western New Guinea|
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