The Dominican Republic is a country that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti in the Caribbean. It has fantastic all-inclusive resorts, fabulous coconut tree-lined beaches with sparkling white sand, and some of the best golf courses in the world. All of this makes it a great tourist destination for family and friends.
However with tropical destinations comes the question: What dangerous animals do you need to watch out for? Snakes are often a significant issue for tourists in warm climates, so whether there are snakes in the Dominican Republic is likely on your mind.
The Dominican Republic is home to a small number of snakes that can be found across the island, and has three types of Boa, which includes the huge Hispaniola Boa. Thankfully none of the snakes in the Dominican Republic pose any significant risk to humans, and they tend to shy away from humans and subsequently snake bites are extremely rare.
However it’s good to be prepared and safe. As we know this country well, here we provide you with all the information you need on snakes in the Dominican Republic. Where they live (so you can avoid them), what they look like, whether they’ve been seen in tourist areas like Punta Cana, and what to do if bitten.
What Common Snakes Live in the Dominican Republic?
Luckily there aren’t a lot of snakes in the Dominican Republic, but we’re going through some of the most common ones that you have the potential to run across.
Blunt-headed Tree Snake
The blunt-headed tree snake is not especially dangerous to humans. However, it can bite and cause a burning feeling as well as numbness around the bitten area. This species is docile though, and isn’t looking to cause harm or even interact with humans.
It can range in color from green to brown and usually has a white belly. It grows to around 2 feet long and will most often be found in trees or shrubs in the rainforests of both the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
If you don’t try to handle or disturb the blunt-headed tree snake, you will be fine, and if you are bitten, you may get a fright but should be otherwise unharmed.
La Hotte Blind Snake
The La Hotte Blind snake is a species of worm snake, and it can grow to around 15 inches long. However it’s not often seen as it spends almost all of its time burrowed into the ground. If you do go searching for it, it’s usually found in coastal or woodland areas. It’s brown with a small rounded head.
This snake is not interested in humans, and if you do disturb it, it does not have venom that would cause any kind of problem. It mainly feeds on ants and other small insects, so it likely won’t be able to bite you anyway.
Haitian Dwarf Boa
While the Haitian Dwarf Boa is a boa, it does not represent one of the larger species and only reaches around 2 feet long. You’ll mostly find them on the ground in forests, though sometimes they may climb trees or hide in shrubs.
This snake poses no threat whatsoever to humans. It will not attack or bite, and its most common defense option is to roll into a ball and wait for any threat to leave.
Hispaniolan Vine Boa
The Hispaniolan Vine Boa is not common at all but has been slithering around the Dominican Republic for over a century. Despite that, scientists only discovered it in 2020, so it is a recent discovery and a brand new snake species that was previously unknown. We’ve included it simply because it’s interesting that it’s been hidden for so long and was only discovered by accident. So the chances of finding one is very rare, and if you do see one on vacation then you’re very lucky!
This boa is another small boa that reaches around 3 feet long, so it is slightly bigger than the Haitian Dwarf Boa. It’s confirmed to be a completely different species but thought to be very localized to a small area.
This species uses shrubs and vines to hide and has been doing a great job as nobody noticed it for over 100 years! There have been no reports of aggression or issues with this boa, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see one, and if you do it poses no threat to you.
The Hispaniolan Racer is a brown ground snake that, if you’re not paying close attention, looks like a cobra. However, looking like a cobra is where the similarities end. This snake is not dangerous, is not common, and will only bite if you try to handle it.
One issue with this snake is that if it does bite you and you don’t seek treatment, there could be complications, albeit they are extremely rare. So consider seeking treatment just in case, and keep an eye on your symptoms if you are bitten. This type of issue is most likely related to allergies to the snake venom rather than the venom being dangerous.
If you leave this snake alone, then it will leave you alone. If you are bitten, there is no danger or long-term effects for most people. It’s mainly found in the southeast of the country.
Are There Venomous Snakes in the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican Republic has very few snakes, and the snakes it does have tend to stay away from humans, so it’s uncommon to see them slithering around the island.
While some of the snakes may have a small amount of venom, they are not dangerous to humans, do not seek humans out, and if you do happen to get bitten, the worst you’re probably going to get is a burning sensation or numbness in the area for a short amount of time. Unfortunately there are quite a few dangerous spiders in the Dominican Republic, so you may want to read up on those – which you can by clicking here.
In most situations with snakes in the Dominican Republic, people are only bitten if they purposely interfere or handle snakes. So the general recommendation is to ignore them, don’t pick them up, and not put your hands anywhere a snake might be.
Are There Any Really Big Snakes in the Dominican Republic?
There is one large snake species in the Dominican Republic, and it’s from the boa family.
The Hispaniola Boa reaches around 13 feet in length, and you can find it throughout the Dominican Republic. However, it’s a nocturnal snake, so you often won’t see it out and about, and it prefers to stay in caves or other dark areas. It can be brown, black, grey, or even red.
Its standard prey is rodents and other small mammals. So it poses no real risk to humans but could be frightening if you see it. This snake is also a good swimmer, so you may see it floating around if you go for a river swim.
This boa is extremely timid, and if it notices humans, it will actually try to escape. With no venom and no interest in humans, you are perfectly safe around it. However, as with all snakes, don’t disturb it or try to handle it.
Will You Find Snakes In Punta Cana and Other Tourist Hot Spots?
In general, you won’t find many snakes in tourist hot spots of the Dominican Republic such as Punta Cana; however, it’s still possible, and there have even been reports of boas swimming close to public markets. However, these boas are not trying to interact with humans and are likely just swimming past.
You won’t find snakes in your hotel room or resort in Punta Cana though, and it is rare for them to be in any major tourist areas. If you venture further into the Dominican Republic to the rainforest or mountainous areas, you may see snakes, but you’ll be safe unless you’re trying to handle them.
How Do You Treat A Snake Bite?
Any snake that bites you should warrant a trip to the hospital or doctor so that you can be checked out. You’re most likely going to be okay, however, but in some situations people can be allergic to snake venom. That allergy can cause issues that require further treatment.
While it’s not recommended to ignore snake bites, even in the Dominican Republic, you should at least treat the bite yourself.
- Wash the area with soap and water. Don’t use alcohol or other cleaning products.
- Place a small amount of vaseline on the bite, and cover it with a bandage. Replace the bandage as it gets wet or at least once a day.
- If you have pain from the bite, use an over-the-counter pain reliever like Advil.
- If your pain worsens, seek immediate medical attention as your bite may be infected.
Your doctor can review your bite and provide any additional treatment you may need. However, you won’t need anything special in most situations, and cleaning and bandaging the bite is all you’ll need to do.
Don’t Let a Fear of Snakes Stop You From Visiting the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is home to a small number of snakes; these snakes stay clear of humans and will retreat if any humans are detected. But if you are unlucky enough to be bitten by a snake in the Dominican Republic, then most people’s worst-case scenario will be a slight burning or numb sensation near the bite for a short amount of time.
The only reported bites from snakes to humans in the Dominican Republic have been to people that have been handling snakes, often snake charmers, scientists, or tourists that try to get a photo after they hear that snakes are non-venomous.
The best advice to any tourists in the Dominican Republic is to stay clear of snakes, not handle them, and not kill them if you see them. Either let them escape or find somebody to remove the snake from any area it may be stuck in.