Dangerous Snakes

We know there are dangerous snakes here in Panama. We’ve only seen a few snakes but none of the dangerous, until a few days ago. I posted a few photos in the photo challenge recently, and thought this little snake was probably a Fer de Lance (also known as a pit viper or Bothrops asper).

I recently checked my good camera and discovered that I had indeed taken a couple more photos!


These photos are shaper so it’s easier to get a better look. I believe that this is indeed a Fer de Lance. It has the correct markings and the large, flat head typical of this snake.


I have also heard that small young snakes can be more dangerous that adults. They have not developed the fine tuning and will just give you all the venom they have when they bite. I’m not sure if this is true but either way, this is a snake to be treated with much caution! Now that anti-venom is available it is very unusual for someone to die from a bite, but it is still a serious matter. These snakes can be found near, and even occasionally in homes. They are also fast, agile, and will aggressively defend themselves if they think they must.

This snake was obviously not avoiding us since it was found behind the gate to the patio where I spend a lot of my time.

We got up one morning and I spotted something small between the wall and the back gate.

We got up one morning and I spotted something small between the wall and the back gate.

We will continue to be aware of possible dangers around here. No sticking bare hands in leaf piles, no bare feet outside, and use caution with any space you can’t see into clearly. I still love snakes and appreciate the beauty of this one, but I’m also glad I’m not inclined to get within biting distance of any wildlife!


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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25 Responses to Dangerous Snakes

  1. Jerry says:

    Compared to your Fer de Lance, our encounter with an 8 foot Boa last week in Boquete seemed mild. He had just eaten and was just wanting to curl up and sleep. We took his picture and let him alone. A Fer de Lance on the other hand would have been killed as soon as it was identified. Sorry snake lovers, but I can’t leave that species alone.


  2. Robert & Helen says:

    Humans are more dangerous and vicious than snakes.


  3. Robert & Helen says:

    Sociopaths like Obama, Hitlary Clinton, the familily Bush, Banksters and other human creaps are far more destructive and dangerous.


  4. Anonymous says:

    I like my Fer de Lance’s medium well with onion rings on the side.


  5. What did you do with the snake, Kris? We always try to bag the boas we find here and transplant them to a remote area. But, a poisonous snake worries me. I wouldn’t be able to kill it, yet I wouldn’t be able to release it, either. Good thing you are observant.


    • I put the camera back in the house and when I returned, it had left. I don’t know if I could capture anything. I like wildlife, but I don’t want to get close enough to anything to capture it. I don’t want to freak out the critter or get bit.


  6. Anonymous says:

    baby snakes are more poisonous. some snakes can strike 2/3 rds of their body length. awesome photos as always.


    • Ahh, so what I heard is true. I also read they can stand up quite a bit so bites are sometimes above the knee. And, they can spit the venom quite a ways too. Glad you enjoyed the photos.


  7. Hugo Ernst says:

    Poisonous snakes? Ah in my mind no decision necessary, that’s the reason for the machete, found in abundance in the Panamian hardware stores. BTW, I found and moved about 60 garter and rat snakes this spring, that were in three nests about 5 ft from my home. (Check my FB page for March) But for poisonous creatures, noway.

    I used to like and trust spiders, but after coming within a day or two of having my lower leg cut off from a brown recuse bite, I urge you to save your love of wildlife to the non-poisonous types, and call a neighbor over when you see these types of snakes.

    Ok I’m getting off my soapbox now…


    • Just my luck I’d get bitten while trying to do away with the snake. Yes, a neighbor, that’s an option. We’re almost surrounded by forest though so there’s no way to rid the area of problem wildlife. Better to learn how to live near them without getting hurt.


  8. that is definitely a pit viper,and the pupils are ‘slits,’ which also ‘spells’ dangerous. here in ecuador, they call the fer de lance an ‘eckes’ (i spelled it the way they say it) and it’s called that because of teh X patterns on its back.

    i welcome boas – no problem, as they eat mice and bats and other snakes (?) i think they eat other snakes… and they’re pretty! poisonous snakes, however, are not welcome – there’s a big world out there, and i’m not fond of sharing my living space with deadly snakes!

    whenever i step outside at night to cut off the irrigation or cut herbs or – whatever – i always wonder, ‘is there a dangerous snake in my path?’

    seeing this reminds me to take a flashlight!

    where there’s one baby snake there might be more.. i am sure you’re on high alert, just remember to look before you reach for items in boxes, under counters, etc.



    • There were a number of dangerous snakes in Florida where we lived before here, so I’m used to being careful. I wouldn’t go out at night without a light, and don’t put my hands anywhere I can see in case something is hiding there. This one was right out in the open though just sleeping next to the wall.


      • i often say that my life in mississippi prepped me for the tropics, and i saw many more poisonous snakes there than i have in the tropics.. but wow, there are some pretty nasty snakes here, aren’t there?

        it was kind of taht snake to sleep where it could be easily seen!


        • I’m sure you had your share of dangerous wildlife in Mississippi too! I suppose anywhere you are close to nature there are risks, but I love the tropics where you can be in nature year around. Yes, that was a very polite snake, and it didn’t even raise its head when the camera came close.


  9. Carole says:

    Great photos as always. Would hate to get close to that snake. We don’t have any were we live. Something I would have to learn more about when we eventually move to David.


  10. Pathway To Portugal says:

    Kris I love wildlife too and live all the pics of the wildlife. You’re a great ambassador for the animals there. I’m with you, I would have to call someone else to do the deed.


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