There are over 3000 snake species in the world, some of which are more common than others. Due to reasons such as global warming or predators, there are many endangered snakes. So, there’s a lot of competition for the title of the rarest snake in the world, but we’re here to tell you which one it is!
With only 18 of its kind still alive, the Saint Lucia racer is the world’s rarest snake. At some point, people believe these species were extinct because of a mongoose pest. There’s a lot of new initiatives to save these snakes in their habitat: Saint Lucia island.
But what else do we know about the Saint Lucia racer snake? And what other rare snake species are out there? Keep on reading to find out!
The 8 Rarest Snake Species in the World
1. Saint Lucia Racer Snake (Liophis ornatus)
As we mentioned before, the Saint Lucia Racer is the rarest snake species alive nowadays. These snakes live on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, and people thought they were extinct for 40 years. Their apparent extinction had to do with a pest of invasive mongoose in their habitat in 1936.
Yet, in 1973, one of these reptiles appeared on Maria Major Island, a mile away from Saint Lucia’s coast. Since then, there are 18 Saint Lucia racers on the island. There are also many efforts to increase the snake’s population worldwide.
These non-venomous snakes only get to be around one meter (three feet) long as adults. Thus, the Saint Lucia Racer Snake is not dangerous to humans at all.
The Saint Lucia Racer usually comes in a light brown shade, with a brown line that runs from its neck down to its tail. These species are also among the rarest animals in the world and feed on lizards.
2. Aruba Island Rattlesnake (Crotalus unicolor)
The Aruba Island Rattlesnake is the second Caribbean snake species on this list. And, in case it isn’t obvious, the natural habitat of this reptile is in Aruba, but you can also spot them in Venezuela.
Nowadays, there are over 230 surviving adults Aruba Rattlesnakes in the wild. Meanwhile, there are at least 100 of these snakes in captivity.
These species are in the critically endangered (CR) category. So, they are also the second rarest living snakes globally.
The reason why these snakes are in danger of extinction has to do with two main factors. On the one hand, humans building residential areas in these species’ natural environment. Also, the introduction of goats who eat the vegetation reduces the habitat even more.
Aruba Rattlesnakes come in a uniform light gray or brown shade. But, sometimes, these snakes can have diamond-shaped marks on their backs. And, when it comes to size, these snakes are around 90cm big as adults.
Like all rattlesnakes, these reptiles are venomous. That said, these snakes will only attack humans if they feel threatened since we’re not a part of their diet. Aruba Rattlesnakes eat lizards, birds, and rodents.
3. Orlov’s Viper (Vipera orlovi)
The Orlov’s Viper is the first non-Caribbean name on this list since it is native Russian. These snake species live in the Black Sea region, to be exact.
Currently, there are almost 250 adult Orlov’s Vipers living in the wild. And, if you’re wondering why there are so few of these species, know they’re very popular as pets. Yes, even though these are venomous species, tons of people buy them for their households.
Thus, these snakes are also among the critically endangered species internationally.
To identify an Orlov’s Viper, look for a triangle-like shaped head. And while colors may vary, these reptiles tend to come in brown, gray, and yellowish-brown. Orlov’s Vipers also have different patterns but tend to have brown or black zig-zag marks.
As for their size, these vipers get to be somewhere between 550 and 650mm big when they’re adults.
4. Round Island Boa (Casarea dussumieri)
Round Island Boa lives in Mauritius, which is in the Indian Ocean, southeast of Africa. More specifically, these snakes live in Round Island, hence the name.
These snakes can grow to be 1.5 meters long as adults, with dark brown backs and light bellies with black spots. The species also get the keel-scaled boa name because of the small, shiny scales on their bodies.
Back in 1996, there were less than 250 Round Island Boas worldwide. Luckily, nowadays, there are around 1000 of these reptiles.
The increase in the number of these boas has to do with several factors. For starters, the breeding of Round Island Boas in captivity is now standard. The fact that there are fewer goats and rabbits eating vegetation also helps. Why? Because the island’s more like it used to be.
Likewise, there’s been an introduction of Round Island Boas in Gunner’s Quoin island. So, the future for these rare snake species doesn’t look as bad anymore!
5. Short-Nosed Sea Snake (Aipysurus apraefrontalis)
The Short-Nosed Sea Snake is one of the most unique-looking ones on this list.
As its name suggests, this snake has a short and pointy snout. But these species also stand out for their small heads and scales that almost look like sequins.
Another name for these snakes is the Sahul reef snake since they live near reef corals in Australia. Back in the day, you could see these species on the North-Western Australian coast. These reptiles would only be around the Ashmore and Hibernia reefs.
Sadly, due to coral degradation, there are fewer of these species every year. Pollution is the main reason these are among the rarest snakes on the planet.
6. Darevsky’s Viper (Vipera darevskii)
The second viper to appear on this list is the Darevsky’s Viper, which lives in a small part of Armenia and Turkey. Currently, there are less than 500 snakes of these species in the wild. So, these reptiles are on the verge of extinction too. This venomous snake’s been disappearing because of the overgrazing of its natural habitat.
These species have a sexual dimorphism that makes females way larger than males. So, a female Darevsky’s Viper is around 42cm big, while an adult male is about 25cm large.
There are also differences in color and patterns between genders. These reptiles can vary from gray to light brown shades with black zig-zag designs on their back.
These endangered snakes eat insects, rodents, and lizards. As with other names on the list, there are now efforts to breed these species in captivity. So, there’s hope the number of these vipers in the world will go up in the following years.
7. Antiguan Racer (Alsophis antiguae)
The Antiguan Racer was, in the past, the rarest snake in the world. This snake almost faced extinction because of an invasion of black rats and mongoose.
Yet, this Caribbean reptile’s conservation improved, and there are now 900 of its kind. In fact, up until the early 90s, people thought these snakes were gone for good.
This snake is from Antigua and Barbuda’s island, so its name is pretty straightforward. Introducing Antiguan Racer Snakes in other islands has been essential to its repopulation.
But now, there’s another challenge to these snake’s preservation. Since Antiguan Racers are docile and non-venomous, people have been getting them as pets. Yes, these brown reptiles are easy to handle, but taking them out of their habitat is never a good idea.
Luckily, official authorities are already taking measures to protect Antiguan Racers. So, hopefully, in the future, this cute snake won’t be extinct.
8. Santa Catalina Island Rattlesnake (Crotalus catalinensis)
The last name of this list is the Santa Catalina Island Rattlesnake. This venomous snake lives in the Gulf of California and, due to predators like feral cats, it is now a rare species.
There are two other enemies of these snakes’ conservation. On the one hand, people have been collecting these reptiles illegally. Likewise, deer mice’s decrease affects these snakes’ since the rodent is its main prey.
Several programs are working to prevent the disappearance of this snake. The most significant effort is looking to reduce the presence of feral cats in the snake’s habitat.
A curious fact about these species is that, unlike other rattlesnakes, it lacks a rattle. The snakes got rid of their rattle to adapt to their surroundings. Thus, in the process, these species became silent, deadly killers.