Rarest Snakes in the World

Let's check out the rarest snakes in the world!

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If you’ve ever seen Hercules, you might remember the hydra, a terrifying nine-headed serpent created by Hades himself. Thankfully, the hydra isn’t real. But there are some unbelievably unique snakes out there that are!

From a milk snake born with two heads to a serpent that can fly, let’s take a fang-tastic tour of some of the rarest snakes in the world!

Blue and Beautiful

Feeling blue might mean feeling sad among humans, but it has a whole different meaning if you’re a pit viper. That’s because blue pit vipers are some of the rarest and most stunning snakes of them all.

Other, similarly beautiful blue snakes exist, like the striking blue Malayan, but they're supposed to be blue. Pit vipers on the other hand are almost always green, while ones with the blue gene are only found in a few select places, like Komodo Island, in Indonesia.

blue pit viper

Furthermore, they’re not to be messed with! Pit vipers are highly venomous, and one bite can cause severe pain, numbness, and even trouble breathing. Therefore, they’re a real danger on the streets of Bali, where they’ve been known to unexpectedly sneak up on locals.

As beautiful as this snake is then, it’s a real look but don’t touch situation. Which means I’m certainly not jealous of whoever’s holding that rose below!

holding blue pit viper

Rainbow Reptile

If I say the word “rainbow” you might think of leprechauns and their elusive pot of gold. Just as elusive however is the “rainbow snake”. Natives of South Florida, rainbow snakes are so rare that they were officially declared extinct!

South Florida “rainbow snake”

Luckily for them though, and us, this was proven not to be the case back in 2020, when one was spotted in Florida for the first time in over 50 years! And the women that found it must’ve been amazed because the spectacular serpents are a sight to behold.

Donning smooth, glossy bluish-black scales topped with three red stripes, their beautiful skin more than earns them their name. Plus, they’re harmless to humans, so you can get up real close for a look!

Because of habitat loss however, numbers left alive today are sadly next-to-none. So, spare a thought for the rainbow snake, and if you see one, maybe that pot of gold will shortly follow!

rainbow snake pot of gold

Celebrity Snake

I’ve already mentioned about one kind of rainbow snake, but guess what? There’s another! And this one is even rarer! Meet MyLove, a reticulated python with such an incredible coat of rainbow scales that she went viral!

Reticulated pythons themselves aren’t rare, but MyLove was born with a unique cross of two genes: the motley gene, which lengthens the circles on her coat, and the golden-child gene, which gives her scales that stunning shimmer.

MyLove reticulated python genes

Even if you buy a snake with the exact same genes, it’s very unlikely it’ll look this amazingly iridescent. So, she’s really one-of-a-kind and the effect is mesmerizing.

When light hits the snakes’ special scales, their bumpy texture makes it refract and bounce between them, separating into different colors and giving the appearance of a rainbow!

MyLove reticulated python rainbow color

Plus, reticulated pythons are the largest snakes in the world, so there’s a lot of those crazy scales to be gawping at! Up to a whopping 20 feet of them in fact, which is like lying your dad on the floor lengthways three and a half times!

All that snake comes with a pretty hefty price tag though, you’re looking at splashing $1,000 if you can find one at all! But if that’s still not enough to put you off the idea, there’s also the tiny fact that they’ve been known to swallow humans whole. It's probably better to stick to going to the zoo!

Snake Island

If I told you I was going on vacation to a hot Brazilian island, you’d be pretty jealous right? But what if I told you that this island is also home to one of the world’s rarest and deadliest snakes? Its name? The golden lancehead.

Golden lanceheads are a lethal snake species so rare that they’re only found in one place in the entire world: Snake Island, a tiny spec of land off the coast of southeastern Brazil.

snake island

When rising sea levels separated the island from the mainland around 11,000 years ago, the snakes on the island ended up evolving very differently from their mainland relatives.

Most of the time, snakes stalk their prey, bite, and wait for the venom to do its work before hunting down the prey again. But on Snake Island, the only prey that survived being separated from the mainland were birds, which snakes can’t track because they fly.

Therefore, only the snakes with the strongest venom capable of instantly killing the birds survived.

golden lancehead hunting birds

Golden lanceheads’ venom is a flesh-melting three to five times stronger than any of the mainland snakes. And that’s no exaggeration. One bite will literally melt human flesh and can cause death in less than an hour. All in all, I think I’ll find somewhere else for that vacation.

golden lancehead venom

Freaks of Nature

We’ve seen some pretty rare snakes so far but let’s take a look at some that are so rare they shouldn’t even exist! Like this guy. The next one is not a young hydra, but rather the result of a super-rare condition that any species can get, called bicephaly, literally meaning two heads.

bicephaly

In fact, it’s so rare that it only affects around 1 in 100,000 births in the wild, making two-headed snakes mega-valuable to reptile enthusiasts. This fella went on sale for a whopping $50,000 back in 2013!

bicephaly snake price

But how does it actually happen? Well, all animals start out as tiny embryos before they’re born. Sometimes, an embryo splits in two and creates two identical embryos with the same genetic information: twins.

However, in the case of that two-headed snake, the embryo only partially split, meaning two embryos developed that were physically connected.

bicephaly snake embryo

Unfortunately, two heads really aren’t better than one here. The life expectancy of two-headed snakes is much shorter than normal, and if one head catches the scent of prey on the other, it could even attack and try to swallow it!

If you think having two heads is tough though, try having three eyes. A python found on a highway in Northern Australia was born with a truly one-of-a-kind mutation, a third eye. Far from being all-seeing though, the eye caused the snake feeding difficulties that ultimately resulted in its untimely death.

three-eyed python

Devil in Disguise

You might’ve heard that the devil wears Prada, but this devil prefers a skin of sandy scales. While it’s not actually a devil, with those pointy horns, the Saharan Horned Viper is definitely devilish looking!

Rarest Snakes in the World

You don’t see horns very often on snakes, but they aren’t a weapon or anything. They’re likely there to help protect its eyes from the gritty desert sands of North Africa and the Middle East.

Some speculate the scaly protrusions may help keep windblown sand grains out of their eyes when the snake is lying incognito at the sand’s surface, allowing them to better see prey and predator alike. Others, meanwhile, suggest the horns help break up the snake’s silhouette, improving its camouflage.

But whatever their true purpose, the snake’s horns aren’t its most interesting feature; far from it! Saharan Horned Vipers are one of the fastest snakes in the world and can rocket around at up to 18mph!

They do this through a special movement called “sidewinding”, where they throw their body forward in repeated s-curves.

sidewinding

What’s more, when their scales rub against one another they make a sound just like a repeating letter f. The sound is so distinctive that the Ancient Egyptians even wrote the hieroglyph for the letter f in the form of the horned viper! Turns out snakes don’t always go “sssss”. Sometimes they go “ffffff”!

hieroglyph "F"

Snow-white Serpents

We’ve seen already that when it comes to snakes, mutations can make pretty much anything happen. The next albino cobra though is altogether different. The reason it looks like a paint-by-numbers before it’s been painted is down to a condition called albinism.

albinism

Normally, snakes’ skins have melanin in them, which is a pigment that gives them their color. It’s the same thing that makes your hair blonde, or brunette. However, snakes with albinism have a faulty gene, meaning they don’t produce any melanin and so lack any coloring.

It may look pretty cool, but for the snakes, it’s not so fun. Without colors, albino snakes have no means of camouflage. So, that pearly white skin exposes them to predators and makes it more difficult for them to hunt their prey undetected.

albino animal problems

Because of this, some experts reckon albino cobras are among the ten rarest albino animals in the world. And that’s a title I’m sure they really don’t want.

Flying Fiends

Diving, or should I say ‘flying,’ right into the next one, let’s have a look at the Paradise Flying Snake. These Southeast Asian snakes really do fly or at least fall with style. Unlike any other snake, these guys slither up trees or structures before slinging themselves from the top.

But before jumping, the snakes use their ribs to stretch themselves into a flattened ribbon, so that after they’ve sprung into the air the aerodynamic shape keeps them lifted. Then, by wiggling their bodies from side-to-side in an “S” shape, they stabilize themselves and can glide even further!

Paradise Flying Snake

Scientists are still unsure why flying snakes evolved to glide, but it’s likely that they use these airborne antics to evade predators. After all, if they’re gliding from tree to tree all the time, they’re unlikely to bump into a hungry mongoose on the ground below.

It also means though that they’re one of the least documented snakes on the planet as it's challenging to get a good film of something known for flinging itself off trees! So, while they’re not exactly rare, they’re incredibly rarely seen, and just too cool not to show you.

Paradise Flying Snake flying

Scaly ‘n’ Snouted

The next one looks more like a lizard or a dragon. The Malagasy leaf-nosed snake is certainly one of the strangest looking serpents alive. Out of almost 4,000 snake species, only four have these weird snouts, and oddly enough they differ dramatically between males and females.

Malagasy leaf-nosed snake male and female

The males’ noses are long and spiky-looking, whereas females’ are flat and more leaf-shaped. Why they’re different, scientists aren’t sure, making them as mysterious as they are unique. It’s been theorized however that the snouts of both genders are leaf-shaped so the creatures can blend into the vegetation of the Madagascan forests where they live.

Ingeniously, they hang from trees so that to their prey they look as if they’re just seed pods or branches swaying in the wind. Hours might pass like this, but when a frog or small reptile eventually gets near, the snake will spring into action and ferociously snap up its meal.

Malagasy leaf-nosed snake hunting

Multi-colored Mysteries

We’ve seen some pretty beautiful snakes so far. However, if you were to hold a snake beauty pageant, one species would be a sure-fire favorite for the top spot. The San Francisco garter snake is one of the rarest and most beautiful snakes in the whole of the US.

San Francisco garter snake

There are many edited pics of this beauty online but it’s still a sight to behold without the Photoshop magic. Sadly though, less than 2,000 of these wonders remain in the wild due to humans building on their natural habitats.

There are other garter snakes though, like the California red-sided garter snake, and thankfully this one isn’t endangered, though it is as remarkably pretty. Like its San-Fran sister, it’s often photoshopped, but again, it really doesn’t need it!

California red-sided garter snake

Despite their looks though, these guys are some of the smelliest snakes on the planet. Because of their relatively small size, they can’t rely on their fangs to scare off predators.

Instead, they defend themselves much like skunks, by releasing a powerful musk that stinks like rotten eggs. And it works! Imagine eyeing up a really tasty looking chocolate cake only to get closer and realize it whiffs of poop.

garter snake stink

Tentacled Terrors

Rare doesn’t always mean beautiful. In fact, sometimes rare can just mean plain weird. Like the tentacled snake. This thing lives underwater in the seas of Southeast Asia, and it’s the only species of snake in the world to possess tentacles on its face.

Rarest Snakes in the World

It’s not quite Cthulhu, but if you look at it under an electron microscope it gets pretty damn close. The tentacles have baffled scientists for years, but recently their true purpose has been discovered.

They’re super-sensitive to underwater movement, capable of sensing even the tiniest vibration. So, by lying in wait and focusing hard, the snakes can strike at fish with pinpoint accuracy.

tentacled snake hunting

It’s as impressive as it is terrifying. But the sly snakes have another trick up their scales: they anchor themselves onto branches with their tails.

This, combined with their bark-like coloration, allows them to assume the guise of a twig, making capturing those unfortunate fish even easier!

tentacled snake hunting fish

Elephant Trunk Snake

If you crossed an elephant’s trunk with a snake, you’d get something that looked quite a lot like an “elephant trunk snake”. Unlike other snakes, this Southeast Asian water-dweller has extra-loose skin which gives it that odd, wrinkled appearance.

Rarest Snakes in the World

But why does it look like it’s picked up the wrong sized scales at the discount store? Well, the baggy skin is actually pivotal to its smooth underwater movement. The scales don’t overlap at all, allowing a much freer range of motion in the water.

However, this has the downside of making elephant trunk snakes almost immobile above water. In fact, they’re so useless on land that they can cause themselves serious injury; their bodies can’t even support their own weight!

Mythical Monster

Ready for a beast so unique that it looks more mythological than real? This is the aptly named dragon snake, which spends most of its time hiding underground in elusive parts of southeast Asia.

Unlike any other snake, dragon snakes have three rows of large dragon-like scales running down their backs.

dragon snake

Nobody knows why they have such a distinctive skin, but we do know that the scales are “keeled”, meaning instead of being smooth they have a long ridge down the center. This reduces the shininess of the snakes’ bodies and may make it easier for them to camouflage themselves.

dragon snake camouflage

Others have speculated that due to dragon snakes’ tendency to burrow underground, the keeled scales help to anchor the creatures in place and prevent predators from unearthing them.

dragon snake self-defense

The mythical-looking beasties aren’t just hard to find in the wild though, they’re almost never seen in captivity either. This is because, for reasons we’re still unsure of, they hardly ever live for long outside their natural environment.

A Rose Among Thorns?

I can’t lie, I’m a sucker for a redhead. Which is why, if I were a snake, I’d be instantly attracted to the red spitting cobra. They really stand out from their more boring-looking relatives.

rare red snake

Unfortunately, that intense red might be amazing to look at, but you really don’t wanna get anywhere near one of these. Spitting cobras are known to, well, spit. Only, they don’t spit phlegm or anything, they spit venom capable of permanently blinding you.

The venom can fly through the air as far as nine feet. And they purposefully aim for your eyes.

red spitting cobra spitting venom

Despite cannibalism being rare among snakes, spitting cobras are known to eat their own kind for breakfast, lunch and dinner! They say you are what you eat, but this snake seems to have taken that a bit too literally!

Secretive Serpent

In comparison to a lot of the wacky and wonderful serpents we’ve seen, you might think this Sri Lankan Vine snake looks pretty ordinary. However, it actually has a surprising secret that makes it truly one of a kind.

Usually, the snake is pure green, so it blends seamlessly with the vines in its lowland forest habitat. When agitated though, something extraordinary happens.

Out of nowhere, it’ll rapidly expand its body outwards, revealing a shocking hidden checkerboard pattern! At the same time, it propels its jaws wide open in a stunning threat display designed to shock and scare away the predator.

Sri Lankan Vine snake attacking

Shock tactics aren’t the only thing that make Sri Lankan Vine snakes unique though. Whilst most snakes have eyes that work separately from one another, Sri Lankan Vines have special binocular vision, meaning both eyes work together to focus on one thing at a time.

This gives them excellent depth perception, much like ours, enabling them to strike their prey with unbelievable accuracy.

Sri Lankan Vine snake hunting

Unless you’re a trained snake handler, I wouldn’t advise holding one of these green guys. One bite can be enough to send you straight to hospital. Green vine snake? More like mean vine snake.

Fanged and Feathery

Close your eyes and picture a snake. Got one? Great, now open them. I bet what you imagined looked a little different to this spiky slitherer! It’s a spiny bush viper, and its entire body is covered in scales that look more like the feathers of an exotic bird than snakeskin!

Spiny Bush Viper

That’s because instead of being smooth, they’re keeled, similarly to the dragon snake’s. Only, instead of looking like a dragon, it gives them a bristly, almost bird-like appearance. But the scales aren’t just pretty, they’re practical too, providing the viper with some incredible camouflage against the trees that it lives in. That’s right, trees.

With the help of a powerful tail, the spiny bush viper can climb up to a dizzying 7,800 feet high! And that tail also proves useful for hanging from branches.

spiny bush viper strong tail

Once in position, the viper blends in with the foliage and lies in wait. Then, when an unfortunate bird lands nearby, it lunges and strikes with deadly accuracy.

Spiny bush vipers aren’t the only ones of their kind up in the canopies though. There’s another type of bush viper which may be even more amazing. This is the variable bush viper, which can change color depending on its environment, just like a chameleon!

variable bush viper changing color

So, they’re even better at catching their prey! Don’t worry though, they probably won’t ever attack you. The tropical terrors are only found in the rainforests of Western and Central Africa, and considering their venom is potent enough to kill an adult human, I’m just fine with that!

Hybrid Horror

It’s common knowledge that a lot of people are scared of snakes, and even more are scared of spiders. But what if you combined the two into one horrifying hybrid?

Let me show you the source of all your future nightmares: the Spider-Tailed Viper! So named for its bulbous, spider-shaped tail, this creepy snake can be found prowling the deserts of Iran.

Spider-Tailed Viper

Not that you’d be able to find one; they’re so elusive that they were only officially recognized as a species in 2006! Scientists used to think that freaky appendage was a tumor caused by a parasite, but now we know it’s not that at all, and is actually an ingenious trap.

When the snake gets hungry, it wiggles the tail back and forth in a creepy-crawly manner to imitate a real desert spider. This grabs the attention of birds flying by, who come down to investigate. Then, the snake takes its shot. And put it this way, it doesn’t usually end well for the feathered flyers.

Spider-Tailed Viper hunting

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