There are different types of snake species in the rain forest. Their diet largely depends on species and size. However, the main foods include insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish, small and large mammals.
Rain forest snakes are highly suited to an arboreal or tree-dwelling lifestyle. Many have long, slender bodies with pointed scales on their bellies that aid with branch gripping. Other species may glide to another tree or the ground to avoid predators or hunt their food.
Some snakes are venomous and use hollow fangs to inject poison into their victims, killing or paralyzing them. On the other hand, non-venomous snakes constrict their prey to death.
Types of Snakes that Live in the Rainforest
The rainforest houses numerous types of snakes both venomous and non-venomous. For instance, the Amazon rainforest is home to at least 17 venomous snake species.
Venomous Rainforest Snakes
The rainforest-dwelling bushmaster snake feeds on birds, other snakes, small rodents, and lizards.
These are the largest pit vipers in the world. They are about 1.8 meters (6 feet) but may grow up to 3 meters (10 feet). We have three types of bushmasters including;
Bushmaster l. muta: They are pinkish-grey or reddish-brown, and mainly they can be found in the basin of amazon to Costa Rica. They have infrared pits on their heads between eyes and nostrils, known as pit vipers. They can sniff their prey, which mainly are small rodents, birds, other snakes, and lizards. They bite their prey, poisoning them and leaving them to die. Later they swallow it from the head.
Bushmaster l. stenophrys: This bushmaster is the stenophrys species known as Central American bushmaster and it’s found in Panama, Costa Rica, northwestern Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Colombian river valleys. It is similar to muta and feeds on birds, other snakes, small rodents, and lizards. They also kill like muta.
Bushmaster l. malanocephala: It’s the third type of bushmaster and is also known as black-headed bushmaster. The L. malanocephala bushmaster is rarely seen and spends most of its time in underground. They also feed on small rodents, lizards, rabbits, and other snakes. They can be found in the forests from the river basin of the amazon to Costa Rica.
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4. Coral Snakes
There are two types of coral snakes, aquatic and amazon. Aquatic has red and yellow while Amazonian has white and yellow. These snakes feed on smaller prey like other reptiles, like lizards, snakes, and amphibians or birds.
They swallow quickly because they have wider jaws. However, aquatic coral snakes also feed on fish for the bulk of their time in the water.
Coral snakes are highly toxic, having one of the most potent venoms on earth. They are easy to identify because they have bright colored and patterned bodies with black, yellow, red, and white.
2. Eyelash Viper
The eyelash viper mainly feeds on lizards, amphibians like frogs, and small birds.
This is the most venomous small snake in the rainforest found in Central America, and it is just 15 to 25 inches long. It primarily lives on trees and palms. It’s gray but can also be yellow or rust mottling. It has protruding scales on top of theirs eyes.
3. King Cobra
King cobras, who live in rainforests as well as other locations, eat small mammals, eggs, other venomous and non-venomous snakes, dhamans, and lizards.
The king cobra is one of the most venomous snakes on earth, and its venom can kill over twenty people. They can lift their body to a third of their size and move forward to attack.
King cobras are found in the rain forests in Asia and Indian plains, and they grow up to 4 meters and have a life span of 20 yrs. These snakes can detect their prey from up to 100m.
Mussurana snakes prey on rodents and other snakes. They are brown or blue-black and are pretty long and can grow up to seven feet. Interestingly, they can kill by both constriction and venom. You can primarily find them in central and south America.
The mussurana is also immune to a lot of snakes’ venom, giving them the upper hand when they hunt down snakes to eat.
Related: List of Snakes that Eat Other Snakes
6. Pit Vipers
Vipers use venomous fangs to strike small animals like small mammals, amphibians, birds, giant ants, and insects. They live on tree branches and bushes, but you can find them in arid deserts.
This snake consists of many different species. They have long, hollow fangs that fold back into their jaws when they are not using.
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7. South American Rattlesnake
The South American rattlesnake is found in the savannah regions of the Amazon. This snake attacks at night. They mainly feed on small rodents but also feeds on other reptiles and insects. They are also pit vipers and can spit their venom to their prey.
Non-Venomous Rainforest Snakes
These are boa family snakes, and they are the largest snakes on earth. Anacondas may grow up to 30 feet (9 meters) with over 550 pounds (250 kg) and a diameter of more than 12 inches. Female snakes are always larger than the males.
Anacondas are primarily found in southern America, mainly in swampy areas and slowly moving streams since they are faster on the water than on land. Their enormous size helps them attack large prey like wild pigs, deer, birds, owls, caimans, capybara, fish, turtles, and even jaguars. Anacondas take 3-4 months to digest their food. These snakes may go weeks or even months without hunting again after their meal.
9. Emerald Tree Boas
They look much like green python though their color is the bright and yellowish underside. They live primarily on tree branches which their long prehensile tail helps them move between branches.
The Amazon River watershed is home to emerald tree boas. The tiny pores near their lips aid in detecting the heat of their meal. Birds, small animals, bats, rats, squirrels, and monkeys make up their food. The younger ones eat small reptiles and amphibians.
These snakes are huge and are excellent swimmers and climbers. They range from 7 meters (22 feet) to 10 meters (33 feet), weighing 35kg. The most famous rain forest python is called the reticulated python found in Asian rain forests.
This snake mostly eats lizards, rodents, birds, monkeys, and other small mammals. Their food depends on their size. They attack and wrap themselves around large prey, squeezing them tighter to break their breath. They will then consume it from the head. Their jaws are highly flexible, allowing them to extend around big prey. Pythons may only feed 4-5 times each year.
Related: Can Pythons Swim?
Looking at our study, we can see the diet of snakes in the rain forest is almost the same. The difference is only how they kill or catch their prey. Also, their food depends on their habitats and size, where small snakes feed on small animals, and large snakes can feed on even larger animals than them.
Joe is a freelance writer for FaunaFacts. Joe has written extensively about snakes for the site, but also contributes content about a range of animals.