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16 Snakes That Are Extinct and Critically Endangered (A to Z List)

Reptiles have been in existence for millions of years. As animals’ environmental and physical conditions keep changing, their capability to adapt to these changes is put to the test. Thus, an animal either evolves as per the changes or suffers from not being able to keep up.

Snakes, like other reptiles, have been around for millions of years. Some went extinct many millennia ago, while others are currently undergoing extinction. Reasons for extinction include loss of habitat, lack of adequate food, and being captured into captivity. Snakes that have gone extinct over the years include the following:

List of Snakes that are Extinct

1. Eupodophis (Eupodophis descouensi)

Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

The eupodophis, whose scientific name is Eupodophis descouensi, is an extinct snake species that existed in the Late Cretaceous period. Its fossils were discovered near the al-Nammoura village in Lebanon. As per the fossil specimen, this snake was 33.5 inches long and lived around 92 million years ago.

Physically, the eupodophis was horizontally compressed with a short tail. It was also vestigial with two tiny hind legs that have similar anatomy as lizards today. Essentially, the legs rendered the snake a transitional cross between lizards and legless snakes. With time, though, the extinct eupodophis lost its limbs as an adaptation to swimming. The snake lived in the Mediterranean Tethys Ocean.

2. Haasiophis

Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

Haasiophis is believed to have lived in the marine deposits just like the Eupodophis and pachyrhachis. It is slightly from an earlier period than the Najash snake, which will be discussed shortly. It lived during the Late Cretaceous period, and its fossils were discovered in the West Bank in Jerusalem.

Similar to other primitive snakes, the Haasiophis is one of the snakes that had vestigial hind limbs. Possession of both sacral ribs and vertebrae was absent in this creature. Like its sister genus pachyrhachis, Haasiophis did not have any connection between the pelvic girdle and its vertebral column.

3. Hofstetter’s Worm Snake (Typhlops cariei)

Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

The Typhlops cariei was endemic to Mauritius. It became extinct in the seventeenth century. Amateur naturalist Paul Carie discovered its remains in the early 1900s in Mare aux Songes. The snake was named after this scientist.

The estimated length of the snake was at least 200mm. Also, it has seven fossil vertebrae, two sets of connected vertebrae, and one isolated vertebra. The Hofstetter’s worm snake was pronounced extinct in 1994. The reason for extinction was the introduction of predatory species in its habitat.

4. Najash (Najash rionegrina)

Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

The fossils of the Najash rionegrina were discovered in the Rio Negro province of Argentina. The fossils are dated 95 million years old to show that the snake existed during the Late Cretaceous Period. They are also believed to have inhabited some regions of the Middle East and South America. While they were originally classified as marine snakes with rear limbs, the najash preferred a terrestrial lifestyle and spent most of their time in desert environments.

While the fossilized skull and spine images show features resembling other primitive snakes, they differed in some ways. For one, the najash had well-developed legs extending outside the ribcage and the pelvis connected to its spine, whereas other snakes would retain their hind limbs.

The neck and tail structure of the najash show that the snake evolved from a lizard-like ancestor. What’s more, it had features that are absent in modern-day snakes, such as a sacrum, pelvic bones, and a pelvic girdle.

5. Round Island Burrowing Boa (Bolyeria multocarinata)

emerald tree boa
Image: The Round Island Burrowing Boa was related to the Emerald Tree Boa Pictured Here
Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

The Round Island Burrowing Boa belonged to the monotypic genus Bolyeria. It was a snake that is endemic to Mauritius. It was pronounced rare in 1949 and was last seen in Round Island, Mauritius, in 1975.

The Bolyeria multocarinata had a rounded body with a pointed snout, a body form that suggests fossorial tendencies. It was 3 feet long on average and light brown with dark dorsal spots. This boa was known to be shy and gentle, and while its diet is unknown, it is believed that it fed on lizards.

The extinction of round island burrowing boas was caused by the encroachment of humans into their habitat. Humans brought animals such as goats and rabbits that overgrazed on the snakes’ territory to cause soil erosion.

6. Sanajeh

Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

This 16.4 feet, 18 kg extinct snake last slithered the earth 70 million years ago. Paleontologists discovered its fossils in 2010 in Western India. Interestingly, the remains were found very near to hatchlings of a titanosaur, which suggested that the sanajeh fed on baby dinosaurs.

A genus of late Cretaceous snake madsoiid snake, the sanajeh was the first snake species to prey on dinosaurs, limiting its targets to the young ones. The scientists revealed that the jaws of the Sanajeh had a much more limited range of motion than modern snakes.

For this reason, the snake could not consume large prey. Unfortunately, the size of titanosaurs kept increasing, and the accelerated growth rate deterred the snake’s predation, which explains why it went extinct.

7. Saint Croix Racer (Borikenophis sanctaecrucis)

Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

It is believed that the Saint Croix Racer went extinct around 1898, making it one of the snake species that went extinct in more recent years.

Its scientific name, sanctaecrucis, is a reference to the island of Saint Croix, where the holotype of the snake was collected. The snake’s preferred habitat was the forest and was mostly found in the United States Virgin Islands.

The snake was not that big as it had a body length of about 30.36 feet. It was marked by its dark head with a pale yellowish neck, which had 15 to 29 transverse bars.  Also, it was oviparous and reproduced sexually. Still, there is not enough information about this species yet.

8. Titanoboa snakes (Titanoboa cerrejonensis)

Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

The Titanoboa snake dates back 58 to 61 million years ago during the Paleocene period. It is one of the hugest snakes to ever exist. It was approximately 50 feet long, which is twice as long as the longest living snake in the world today. Weight-wise, the snake weighed between 2300 and 2500 pounds, which is about four times the weight of the biggest anaconda.

The name ‘Titanoboa’ is a derivative of ‘Titanic Boa.’ It lived in the jungles of South America. The snake had small and sharp teeth that were adapted for hunting. Even so, the Titanoboa snakes would spend more time in the water than on land. As per relevant theories, the cause of extinction for the Titanoboa snakes are twofold: climate change that favored smaller reptiles and reduced rainforests.

9. Wonambi (Wonambi naracoorthsis)

Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

The Wonambi is a pre-historic snake endemic to Australia. It went extinct about 40,000 years ago, about the time when Aboriginals first came to Australia. A predator, the Wonambi weighed 100 pounds and was about 18 feet long.

Scientific name Wonambi naracoorthsis, Wonambi snakes were among the last species in the family of snakes, “madtsoiids.” For millions of years, the Wonambi were found all over the world but were restricted to Australia right before they went extinct.

10. Yurlunggur (Yurlunggur camfieldensis)

Scientific Name
Date of Extinction
Last Known Location

Scientific name Yurlunggur camfieldensis, this pre-historic serpent was part of the Madstoiidae, an extinct snake family. It existed in the period of the Serravallian of the Miocene. The snake is believed to have inhabited the northern territory of Australia, around bullock creek.

Similar to the Wonambi, the Yurlunggur was close to 6 meters in length and 300 millimeters in width. This is to say that it was large by today’s standards. A constrictor by nature, the Yurlunggur would coil its body around its prey and squeeze to death before swallowing it whole. It is believed that this extinct snake species foraged for food in freshwater areas since its skull was discovered in a freshwater region.

Critically Endangered Snake Species

Some snake species are becoming rarer and rarer as their numbers keep dwindling day by day. These snakes are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as critically endangered. Critically Endangered, marked CR, are species that are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. To be considered critically endangered, a species should meet one of the following criteria:

  • The population of the species should reduce significantly over a period of 10 years.
  • The population should be reduced to 250 Mature Individuals (MI) over a period of 10 years.
  • There must be a 50% probability of going completely extinct within three generations or a period of 10 years.

Some of the critically endangered snake species today include:

1. The Albany Adder

Scientific NameBitis albanica
Known LocationSouth Africa
Key ThreatsLoss of Habitat

The Albany Adder is a South African snake species that was thought to be extinct. They had not been seen for a whole decade until scientists found four of them a few years ago. Since 1937, only 12 of the snake species have been recorded. Thus, they are among the most threatened snake species globally.

The main reason why the snake’s population is becoming endangered is the loss of habitat. These snakes prefer to live in mixed shrub and thicket, many of which have been transformed into mining sites, urban centers, and roads.

2. The Roatan Coral Snake  

The Micrurus ruatanus is a species of elapid snake that is endemic to the island of Roatan, off the Honduran coast. The two-colored coral snake has alternating long and short black and red bands all over its body.

It is oviparous and reproduces sexually. Even so, there are no recognized subspecies. The Roatan coral snake has been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN and in cites appendix iii.

3. The Seychelles House Snake

Scientific name Lamprophis geometricus, the Seychelles House snake is endemic to Seychelles, close to the Indian Ocean. The snake belongs in the family of colubridae, also referred to as African nocturnal snakes. It is oviparous and reproduces sexually.

Found in the Afro tropics, this snake’s natural habitats include rural gardens and subtropical moist lowland forests. However, loss of habitat has been listed as the reason the snake is becoming endangered. The IUCN listed The Seychelles House Snake as endangered in 2006.

4. The Atlas Dwarf Viper

The Atlas Dwarf Viper, or the vipera monticola is a venomous snake that is endemic to Morocco. It has no recognized subspecies. It is a small snake, possibly the smallest member of the genus Vipera, as it has a maximum body length of 16 inches.

It was classified as Near Threatened (NT) by IUCN in 2001 because of its limited range and the declining quality of its habitat. The Atlas Dwarf Viper was officially listed as critically endangered in 2005.

5. The Pearl- Banded Rat Snake

It belongs to the genus of nonvenomous colubrid snakes and is found in the Palearctic. The snake is endemic to the Western Sichuan province of China. It was classified as one of three rat snake species in the genus Elaphe until 2002, when its DNA analysis revealed that it was not closely related to rat snakes in the northern hemisphere.

Oviparous in nature, these snakes reproduce sexually. They were first discovered by an American Biologist in 1929, after which they disappeared until the 1980s. Since then, only about 30 pearl-banded rat snakes have been sighted to date. Due to their scarcity, they are listed as endangered in the IUCN red list.

6. Wagner’s Viper  

Also known as the montivipera wagneri, Wagner’s viper is a member of the family vipers. It is found in the Palearctic and is native to Northwestern Iran and Eastern Turkey. The serpent reproduces sexually and has no subspecies.

The Wagner’s viper is not a large snake as it only grows to a maximum of 28 to 37 inches. It was classified as endangered (EN) in 1996 and proclaimed critically endangered (CR) in 2009 by IUCN and in cites appendix ii. Reasons for the endangerment of this species include a steep decline in population and pet trade.

Final Thoughts

Snakes have existed for many years, and most of them are extinct due to various theory-explained reasons. Most of the pre-historic snakes such as the Titanoboa, Sanajeh, Najash, and others mentioned in the article became extinct due to environmental changes that were unfavorable to them. Critically endangered snake species today include the Seychelles House Snake, the Atlas Dwarf Viper, and the Albany Adder.

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