In case you didn’t know, snakes are capable of reaching quite impressive speeds, generally around 12 mph. Some species, like the sidewinder, can go as high as 18 mph. But today, we won’t discuss the fastest snakes but rather the slowest.
Interestingly enough, there are quite a few species that suck in terms of movement speed, primarily because of their lifestyle and behavior. So, let’s get into that.
The following are 7 of the slowest snakes in the world that you may be encountering in the wild:
1. Slow Worm Snake – Maximum Speed: 0.3 mph
This species even has the word ‘slow’ in its name. The reptile has a slim and wormy body and is capable of reaching 13 inches. However, this one has a secret that may be responsible for its low athleticism.
If you’ve ever encountered a worm snake in the wild and observed its face, you may have concluded that there’s something familiar about it. Maybe you thought that the snake’s head looked awfully similar to that of a lizard.
The reason for that is the fact that this is actually a lizard, not a snake. Anguis fragilis is a species of legless lizard that can be found throughout Europe and Asia. Some of the most common habitats include gardens, meadows, and woodlands, as they prefer areas with soft and aerated soil.
These reptiles are native burrowers, so they are quite difficult to encounter in the wild.
The fact that this is a lizard explains the animal’s unimpressive speeds. The lizard’s body conformation doesn’t allow it to reach any meaningful speeds without its limbs, which are now gone.
So, remember not to kill the worm snake if you encounter it in the wild. This reptile is a genuine asset for its habitat, feeding on a variety of pests like insects and slugs. Not to mention, this lizard won’t hurt you, as it doesn’t bite and is overall shy and withdrawn.
2. Dekay’s Brown Snake – Maximum Speed: 0.3 mph
Dekay’s brown snake is another small and slow species, only capable of getting to 15 inches max. This species looks less worm-like compared to the previous entry, but it doesn’t get too far from it either.
Most specimens are brown with little-to-no markings. Some individuals showcase some black markings on the dorsal area, but they’re rather faint.
This time, Dekay’s brown snake looks like an actual snake, with the typical head construction and big eyes. These are harmless reptiles, both due to their size and their secluded lifestyle. They are quite widespread throughout the eastern US and some parts of Canada, and you will most likely find them in forests, fields, and suburban areas, preferably buried under litter, rocks, and dead vegetation.
The Dekay’s brown snake consumes a variety of insects, earthworms, and slugs and can consume a lot of food in one sitting. Which is rather curious for a species this small.
Despite this species’ low profile, Dekay’s brown snakes are a vital component of their ecosystem. Not only do they feed on various invertebrate pests, but they serve as food for other animals as well.
3. Rosy Boa – Maximum Speed: 1 mph
The rosy boa looks nothing like your typical boa. This snake is relatively small, only getting to 35 inches, although some rare specimens can reach 48.
The snake’s body is relatively slim and very shiny, and the head lacks any characteristics that would qualify this animal as a boa. Or even as a constrictor snake.
The head is the same width as the neck, and the eyes are small and black. Most specimens come in 2 main colors, white or silver, and orange. The pattern is identical in all individuals: white or silver as the background and 3 orange bands traversing the snake longitudinally (one along the spine and 2 more on the sides.)
This species is more common in the southeast US and northern Mexico, where it can be found in habitats like scrublands, deserts, and rocky hillsides. The snake feeds primarily on small rodents or any other animal of similar sizes.
More importantly, this is a more resilient species of boa, as rosy boas are known to only eat once every several weeks. Despite consuming small prey.
They are also docile and friendly and won’t bite when handled unless extremely uncomfortable for some reason. Rosy boas are shy are prefer to bury themselves in the soil or litter or hide under rocks to avoid predators.
The best chance you have of meeting one is during their basking time when these small boas stretch their bodies on flat rocks to warm up.
4. Boa Constrictor – Maximum Speed: 1 mph
This time we’re discussing the real deal. Boa constrictors aren’t known for their mind-bending speeds either, as they’re only capable of reaching 1 mph at the top of their game.
Truth be told, they don’t need to go fast anyway. Boa constrictors are ambush predators that don’t move much from their preferred vantage point. These snakes are excellent climbers that prefer to live much of their life in trees, lazily hanging from branches.
The reptile lays in wait and attacks when its prey comes close, unaware of the predator’s presence. The snake’s body coloration and pattern allow for great camouflaging abilities; the snake essentially disappears when it stands still.
The typical boa constrictor can reach 7 feet and comes in darker colors like brown, black, and orange. Many individuals have leaf-like markings on their bodies, boosting the snake’s camouflaging abilities even more. Some boas are completely green with white markings.
Thanks to their size, boa constrictors can eat larger prey than most other snakes. While the snake’s typical meals include animals like rodents, reptiles, and birds, larger individuals can even consume monkeys, deer, and pigs.
The boa is a shy animal, which is typical for most snakes, but you shouldn’t test its limits.
Because boas are not built for fast movement, they make up for it via bite force, their large and sharp teeth, and the ability to constrict their attackers to death.
Some boas have been known to kill humans thanks to their otherworldly squeeze, so pay the snake the respect it deserves.
5. Burmese Python – Maximum Speed: 1 mph
Burmese pythons qualify as some of the largest snakes in the world, second only to the famous anaconda.
These snakes are also highly popular as pets thanks to their slow movement, low activity level, and overall docile demeanor. The typical Burmese python can easily reach 20 feet and weigh close to 150-200 pounds in captivity.
In the wild, they are mostly found between 9 and 15 feet. Burmese pythons are native to southeast Asia in areas like Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia, but they can be found in surrounding areas and countries as well.
The snake’s natural habitat includes swamps, forests, and grasslands, as well as other vegetation-rich ecosystems with a clean water source nearby.
Burmese pythons can eat almost anything. Thanks to their large size, strength, and ability to stretch their jaws, Burmese pythons can consume capibaras, antelopes, pigs, and even alligators.
Humans aren’t really off the menu either, although these snakes aren’t known to hunt humans specifically. Accidents can happen, though, especially when a small human provokes a very large python.
Also, keep in mind that even if the python doesn’t kill you, the snake is likely to inflict severe flesh wounds due to its massive sharp teeth.
Don’t play with it because, despite its generally laid-back demeanor, the Burmese python has a short fuse.
6. Texas Blind Snake – Maximum Speed: 1.5 mph
We’re jumping from one of the largest snakes in the world to one of the smallest. The Texas blind snake only measures between 3 and 13 inches and looks very similar to earthworms.
They are small, thin, brown, and shiny, making it nearly impossible to distinguish this reptile from a standard large earthworm.
You can only distinguish some differences at a closer look, such as the barely visible smooth scales and the small black spots for the eyes. They also have tiny toothless mouths that they use to consume worms and other animals crawling through or on the ground.
You’re unlikely to meet a blind snake in the wild, not because the animal is rare, but due to its low profile. These snakes only live underground and come out occasionally to get some sunlight.
Despite their small size and secluded lifestyle, blind snakes are a critical component of their natural ecosystem, mainly thanks to their diet. These snakes specialize in consuming ants and termites first and foremost.
7. Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake – Maximum Speed: 2.2 mph
This is a peculiar entry for 2 reasons. One of them is the fact that this reptile can more than double the speed of all the other snakes on this list.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean much, given that its top speed is 2.2 mph on land, but it’s a noteworthy feat anyway. The other point is that this sea snake is one of the most venomous reptiles in the world, although it doesn’t look like it.
If anything, this species looks more like a constrictor than anything else. The yellow-bellied sea snake is typically black with a yellow belly, thick body, flat tail, and rectangle-shaped head, the type of which you see in constrictors. The snake also has a distinct black and yellow pattern on its tail.
You can find the yellow-bellied sea snake in the warm and cozy waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans, where they prefer to swim closer to the shore than you would’ve hoped for.
You can also find them in specific areas like estuaries and bays, where they constantly hunt for food. Be wary, this one is an agile swimmer and can easily bite while in the water.
You want to keep your distance because yellow-bellied sea snakes are highly venomous and are not afraid to show you that.
These are just 7 of the slowest snakes you can find in the wild, but there are many others to account for. Overall, just because a snake is fast doesn’t make it less dangerous or apt at survival.
Tortoises are also extremely slow, yet they have no issues thriving in the wild. With some exceptions, of course.