Dioon Cycad palm tree near the beautiful Colonial Main Mansion of Hacienda Chichen Resort, an Eco-Cultural Spa Getaway, the ideal Green Maya Vacation Spa Resort.        Yucatan venomous snakes: Neotropical Rattlesnake, Tzabcan endemic to the Yucatan, Mexico

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Yucatan Snakes

Venomous Snakes found in Chichen Itza
 Hacienda Chichen Resort  a Sustainable Wildlife Jungle Reserve,  Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico.

Chichen Itza, Yucatan: Kukulcan, Maya pyramid head carving.
Chichen Itza, the impressive ancient Maya archaeological city in Yucatan, Mexico,
 is intimately connected with the various venomous snakes living in its vast jungle.


Yucatan Venomous Snakes Information and Photo Guide:
Among the multiple snake species found at the Hacienda Chichen Resort private Maya Jungle Reserve and grounds, you will find five endemic venomous snake species:

 Yucatan Neotropical Rattlesnake: Tzabcan
   Yucatecan Cantil

 Yucatan Hognose Pitviper

Yucatan's Coral Snake Group

plus the impressive Nauyaca Real, Fer-de-lance venomous snake species:

Nauyaca Real or Terciopelo Pitviper, Taxincan

Hacienda Chichen Resort, in Chichen Itza, Yucatan, is committed to preserve and protect the vast variety of its property's flora and fauna. These efforts, make this boutique Spa hotel a unique place in the Yucatan to enjoy an Eco-Cultural vacation, especially for nature lovers and those that wish to have an intimate contact with Mother Nature and the Maya world.    

In the Yucatan Peninsula there is 134 snake species recorded to date. Almost 20% of them are endemic, which means they are only found in the Yucatan. In Chichen Itza, you will find over 12 endemic snakes species, most are endangered or at risk, due to human hunting and intense deforestation of their habitat.  Four of the protected snakes found in the Hacienda Chichen Resort grounds are highly venomous, and visitors need to take care not to disturb these snakes by carefully observing where they walk and step.  

Venomous pitviper: Cantil is called Uol-poch in Maya language, observed in Chchen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

 These Venomous Snakes are protected in our property to help preserve them as part of the Maya native fauna, which is in grave danger due to the misconceptions and fears that have been instilled for generations.

To contemporary Maya people, all snakes are dangerous and must be killed; sadly, although  not all snakes are poisonous, Maya people in Yucatan treat them as such.

We have to accept that living with snakes in Yucatan’s jungle regions is a way of life and killing them is not responsible management of nature, and killing them only should be a last recourse under specific circumstances.  It is important to remember that while these snakes can be lethal, they would rather escape than confront a human; thus, getting out of their way is the safest tactic. Anti-venom medicine is applied at the local emergency clinic, but it is best to avoid getting bitten altogether.

Prevention is always better than a cure; it makes sense to take precautions to avoid snakebites in the first place. These snakes will snap and attack defending their own safety and territory; they will react with bites if they perceive they are under attack or in danger. When encoutering a snake, it is not recommended you try to kill the snake yourself, it is best you calmly and gently back away from the area.   

SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS: When strolling through the Maya Jungle Reserve and open grounds around Chichen Itza and any other ancient Maya archeological zone:

  • Use boots rather than sandals and stay within marked  paths when ever possible..

  • Avoid walking in the evergreen vine Epipremnum aureum spread throughout Hacienda Chichen's lush gardens, this vine called “Telefono” in Spanish, and “Ivy Arum” in English.

  • Don’t walk at night without a flash light. Use your cellular phone light or other light.

  • Use caution, make sure you have observed the area well before you step into it.

  • Remember, many snakes camouflage well in dried leaves and twigs piles.
    If you see a snake cautiously walk away and do not bother, disturb, or agitate it.

  • If you see a snake within the Hacienda Chichen's grounds, call one of our staff members to have it safely removed and relocated for everyone's safety: yours, ours and the snake's.


Yucatan Venomous Snakes Information and Photo Guide:

Three of our venomous snakes belong to the Viperidae Family;  they have, at the root of their mouth, a pair of long retractable fangs to inject their lethal venom to their victims.

"Yucatan Neotropical Rattlesnake: Tzabcan"
Crotalus simus tzabcan

Yucatan poisonous rattlesnakes: Tzaban pitviper found in the Maya Jungle Reserve at Hacienda Chichen Resort Ancient Maya greatly revered this snake and they built numerous temples with columns and carvings depicting the Yucatan Neotropical rattlesnake,   a member of the subspecies Crotalus simus tzabcan, which became a new subspecies since 2004. This pitviper's other scientific name is Crotalus durissus tzabcan. This species is native to the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize and northern Guatemala.  This venomous Tzaban pit viper species is found in our private Maya Jungle Reserve and grounds.

Yucatan venomous snakes: Neotropical rattlesnake Tzabcan, Viperaide Family. Found in Chichen Itza.The word Tzabcan means rattlesnake in Yucatec Maya. In Spanish it is commonly referred to as Serpiente o Vibora de Cascabel. This pit viper prefers semi-arid areas, hides in piles of dried twigs and leaves, or lays in grasslands where they can camouflage.

 This terrestrial pit viper is largely nocturnal and territorial. Adults can exceed over three meters in length and have thick bodies. They feed on small mammals, reptiles, and eggs. Currently, there is a possibility that this rattlesnake is an endangered species due to human persecution, be it for fear or for shamanic medicinal traditions.

Neotropical Rattlesnake Tzaban's rattle tail tip detail. Chichen Itza, Yucatan.Yucatan Neotropical rattlesnakes' crown scales (at their broad heads) are small and form two long parallel lines extending to their necks. Like all rattlesnakes, the Yucatan Neotropical rattlesnake vibrates its horny ringed tail, which produce a hissing sound when agitated. The rattles are formed at the tip of the tail, from the first time they shed their skin, due to a blunt segment called prebuttom. These pit vipers shed their skin up to 4 times a year.

These endemic rattlesnakes' scales form diamond shaped patterns along their dorsal body.  Within the area of Chichen Itza, the Tzabcan rattlesnakes can be  colored  black with gray and white, or  brown with tan and reddish tones.  Regardless of the skin coloration, these venomous rattlesnakes are highly aggressive if disturbed.

Chichen Itza pitviper Neotropical Rattlesnake protected at the Maya Jungle Reserve in Hacienda Chichen Resort

 The Tzabcan bite symptoms include progressive paralysis and requires immediate medical attention. Hemorrhaging may be present at the bite site, but what is most serious is the neurotoxic symptoms produced by the venom. This is why you should always avoid getting bitten by carefully, visually inspecting the area you are stepping on and avoid passing nearby or to close to one these pit vipers.


"Yucatecan Cantil: Uol-poch" 
Agkistrodon bilineatus russeolus

This is truly a venomous pit viper species, found in Yucatan and Central America. Common names are Cantil, Mexican moccasin, and yellow-lipped pit viper in English. The Cantil name comes from the Maya Tzeltal people living in Chiapas, it means “yellow lip.”  The Yucatecan Cantil, is endemic protected species of the Yucatan and the fourth subspecies A. b. russeolus of the genus Agkistrodon bilineatus.

Yucatecan Cantil is called Uol-poch by the Maya people of Chichen Itza, Yucatan, MexicoYucatecan Cantil pit vipers are called Uol-poch in Yucatec Maya. These venomous pit vipers are generally shy by nature, and their first instinct is to flee danger.  Only when threatened, a Uol-poch will display rapid aggressive behavior and will move to strike. These short and thick bodied venomous pit vipers can reach 120 cm. Cantil pit vipers share some general body structures with cottonmouth snakes, such as a triangular shaped head with small eyes and vertical pupils.  Uol-poch or Yucatecan Cantil's neck area is slimmer than the body width.

Yucatan endemic venomous snake: Yucatecan Cantil, Agkistrodon bilineatus russeolus found in Chichen Itza. Their dorsal pattern coloration varies between black and dark brown with banding. Their skin pattern displays tan to white color scale accents. Two yellow upper head lines that pass above the eyes to the nostril distinguish them clearly, (see photo). Under their lip a broader white line flows from the nasal to the lower jaw. As Yucatecan Cantil ages, its pattern and coloration fade and darkens. Juvenal Cantil snakes display a colorful tail tip, from deep yellow to golden green. Both are found within the private Maya Jungle Reserve at Hacienda Chichen, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico.

Yucatan venomous snakes: highly poisonous pitviper the Uol-poch or Yucatecan Cantil pitvipersThey will attack if provoked, or threatened, by tightly coiling their bodies and raising the last several inches of its tail, which  quickly flicks, creating loud noise when angered. Simultaneously, the Cantil will open its mouth as one last warning, before striking. This highly poisonous pit viper can leap long lengths upwards of a couple of meters. Breeding occurs normally during spring as most other viper species do. Cantil pitvipers are ovoviviparous, giving birth to five / twenty young at a time. They are nocturnal and pray on small mammals, lizards, and other snakes.

Uol-poch or Yucatecan Cantil pitvipers are truly feared by Maya people, due to the powerful venom: it causes painful edema, serious hematuria, shock, respiratory difficulty, and tissue necrosis with potential fatal results. If bitten by a Cantil, you must seek medical care immediately to avoid amputation or even death.


"Yucatan Hognose Pitviper"
Porthidium yucatanicum also know as Trimeresurus yucatanicus

Called Chac can in Maya, and Nauyaca nariz de cerdo yucateca in Spanish, the Yucatan Hognose pitviper, Porthidium yucatanicum also Trimeresurus yucatanicus, is an endemic terrestrial and nocturnal pit viper of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Its territory extends through two thirds of the peninsula, including the deep undisturbed deciduous forest areas around Chichen Itza's monte or jungle grounds. Currently, no subspecies is recognized for this terrestrial viper. It is protected by Mexican law under the Conservation Actions Law, as its population is dangerously in decline. The Yucatan Hognose Pitviper is endangered due to the “milperos” or Maya farmers increase depravation and encroaching its habitat by deforestation vast areas of the jungle. There are few, if any, studies published on this Yucatan endemic hognose pit viper.

Adult males usually reach 45 cm in length, and females are larger, at about 55 cm. Both are short in length and heavily built with short tails. In the Juvenile Yucatan hognose pit vipers, the tail is clearly yellow and coloration fades as it ages. Their heads have a distinctive triangular shape and their neck is a bit narrower. The eyes are elliptical and moderately small, with vertical pupils. The Chac ca body scales coloration can have a gray to light brown tan with frequent hints of orange tones. Their spine has a distinctive orange golden line and patches of darker tan and brown patterns, with black areas border lighter bands. As most viviparous pit vipers, they breed in the spring giving birth from July to Aug. They are highly venomous, preying on small mammals, reptiles, and eggs.

 Yucatan endemic venomous snake: The Uol-poch or Yucatan Hognose pitviper found in the Maya Jungle Reserved at Hacienda Chichen Resort, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico
Do not approach this or any other snake while visiting the ground of
Hacienda Chichen's private Maya Jungle Reserve in Chichen Itza

The Yucatan Hognose pit viper is greatly feared by all Maya rural people, because it is a highly venomous snake. It has killed many rural people while they cleared their fields for milpas. Its venom causes painful edema, serious hematuria, shock, respiratory problems with change of pulse rate and weakness, nausea and vomit may occur, retina hemorrhage and convulsions has been reported. We ask Hacienda Chichen staff, guests, and visitors to the area NOT to confront this or any of these endemic pit vipers, and take special care when walking in our Maya jungle nature reserve grounds and hotel gardens, avoid accidental encounters with these endangered venomous snake species. The Cha ca, as known by the Maya people, has an important place in the regions ecosystem and as stated before, it is protected by Mexican laws.

"Yucatan's Coral Snake Group"
Variable Coral Snake, Micrurus diastema
Mayan Coral Snake, Micrurus hippocrepis
Central America Coral Snake, Miscrurus nigrocinctus

Coral Snakes belong to the Elapidea family; these are the one of the most venomous snakes found in Yucatan, Mexico. Coral snakes, like other members of this family, have short fixed fangs that inject lethal toxins to the victims nervous system when bitten.

Chichen Itza: snakes found at the Maya Jungle Reserve of Hacienda Chichen in Yucatan.There are  50 Coral snake species around the world; only three of them are found in Yucatan.  These Coral snakes are venomous elapid, thin colorful snakes found fromYucatan to parts of Central America. These three coral snake species reside in the Yucatan Maya forest and are also found in Chichen Itza's archeological grounds and within the Hacienda Chichen's Maya Jungle Nature Reserve.

All elapid snakes are characterized by hollow, fixed fangs through which they inject venom. Coral snakes are very dangerous venomous elapids that can be seen during the day moving under dry leafs (see photos). They are many times difficult to spot and we recommend you carefully inspect the ground you step in, as these snakes tend to move under dried vegetation. The Maya and other Coral snakes can be distinguished from a number of similarly colored harmless snakes by the fact that they are Jungle walks: observe where you step, as this coral snake enjoys burrowing bellow piles of dry vegetationthe only ones with red bands touching yellow ones (left photo). The body is ringed with transverse bands of black, red, and yellow vivid colors; note bands length varies. Their dorsal scales are smooth and shinny. Note that their yellow transversal band touches the red band, an indication that you are observing a true coral snake. Maya coral snakes are infrequently encountered because of their burrowing habits, and they seldom bite unless molested and handled.

Yucatan Coral Snake, Miscrurus nigrocinctus.  Yucatan Coral Snake:   Micrurus hippocrepis, one of the three corals found in Chichen Itza  Yucatan Coral Snakes group: Micrurus diastema found and protected in Hacienda Chichen's Maya Jungle Reserve in Chichen Itza.
 Miscrurus nigrocinctus                  Micrurus hippocrepis                  Micrurus diastema

The venom of coral snakes, like that of cobras, acts on the nervous system and causes paralysis; the mortality rate among humans who are bitten (snake chews rapidly) is high due to the strong neurotoxin venom its small fangs inject to the victim.  Their teeth are very small and will not brake through thick leather hiking boots or other hard leather shoes. They feed on other snakes and lizards.

 "Not a Coral Snake but a Look Alike "

Blanchard's Milk Snake mimics the Coral Snake smooth dorsal banded pattern, but it is not a venomous snake; rather it is a constrictor Kingsnake.The Coral snakes should not be confused with the non-harmful non-venomous Blanchard's Milk Snake, lampropeltis triangulum blanchardi, from the Scarlet King snake species family, which is also native to the Yucatan and found in the Hacienda Chichen property. This snake mimics the colors and transverse banded skin patterns of Coral snakes, and also displays smooth shinny scales, but it can be distinguished by observing the transverse band color sequence, because the red bands do not touch the yellow bands but follow the black ones.  Scarlet King snakes are not venomous but is best to avoid getting close to them as you can forget this change of band colors. This snake is a constrictor to kills its pray; they will eat other snakes, lizards, birds, and small mammals.

" Nauyaca Real or Terciopelo Pitviper: Taxinchan"
Bothrops asper

Nauyaca Real, Bothrops asper resting, venomous pitviper, Yucatan

Called "Taxin'can, Taxinchan" in Yucatec Maya, and "Nauyaca Real, Terciopelo, Barba Amarilla, Cantil Boca Dorada" and other names in Spanish; also commonly named "Fer-de-lance" in English, the Nauyaca Real pitviper, Bothrops asper belongs to the Viperidae Family, subfamily Crotalinae.  This impressive pitviper is found in Mexico, Central and the upper region of South America. 

The Nauyaca Real is considered the ultimate pit viper, and the most dangerous venomous snake in Yucatan.  This impressive venomous snake is one of the most dimorphic species found in Yucatan: Males can reach 1.80 meters in length; females grow larger, over 2.5 in length. Usually these vipers' dorsal scales are keeled and have gray or brown color shades, some even have a soft pink tone in their scale keeled pattern with interchanging gray scales creating dark triangles and paravertebral blotches.

Bothrops asper, Yucatan venomous snake found in Chichen Itza.

The Nauyaca Real female's body is robust, could reach 16 pounds or more; their heads can be three times larger than the males, normally 4 inches wide; the mature female's fangs typically reaches an inch in size. Both sexes' head is broad, lance shaped and flattened when view from above; the head sides and bottom is covered typically with yellow scales, which gives this snake another popular name: Barba Amarilla. Eyes are medium size with vertical elliptic pupils. 

A viviparous species that can bear five to eighty young at a time.  Growing  young snakes exhibit caudal luring to prey, thought only males have bright colored tail ends; both young feed on small vertebrates; adults specimens feed on small mammals, lizards, iguanas, frogs, and birds.

Bothrops asper, pitviper called taxinchan in Maya, YucatanMainly a solitary nocturnal pitviper; this fast moving and excitable venomous snake camouflages well with its surroundings. The Nauyaca Real is very aggressive if threatened or disturbed; thus, it is best to avoid getting nearby the area around it. When threatened, it can display an "S" coiled form and attack rapidly. This Bothrops asper pitviper is responsible for the majority of lethal snake bites in Central America.  If bitten, an anti-venom treatment is immediately a must.  However deadly, the Nauyaca Real are, they serve as an important part of the Neotropical ecosystem living equilibrium and are protected in the Maya Jungle Reserve of the Hacienda Chichen, in Chichen Itza, Yucatan, due to the intensive hunting and killing by Maya rural people in the region. Guests are required to use extreme caution when strolling the grounds of the reserve, use boots and avoid night walks in the jungle grounds.  When spotting this and other snakes, it is best to move carefully away from the area, not disturb them, and follow our caution tips.  

In Yucatan, at the Hacienda Chichen's Maya Jungle Reserve, the Nauyaca Real,  Terciopelo pitvipers, inhabit close to human rural zones, "milpas" agricultural disturbed deciduous tropical forests, lowlands, and close to cenotes. Enjoys hidden among leaf litter and roots to sleep, as well as basting in the sun during the day.


You may wish to read our interview to Jim Conrad, a naturalist that has written many
articles about the fauna and flora found at Hacienda Chichen Resort here.

Dioon Cycad palm tree near the beautiful Colonial Main Mansion of Hacienda Chichen Resort, an Eco-Cultural Spa Getaway, the ideal Green Maya Vacation Spa Resort.
Yucatan flora: Cycads at Hacienda Chichen Eco-Spa Resort, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

Yucatan Adventure  Green Travel Guide is a volunteer Sustainable Green Travel Guide designed by the Maya Foundation In Laakeech A. C. a NGO sustainable civil society founded by Hacienda Chichen Resort's owners and staff in Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico.  Hacienda Chichen's  sustainable green vision and eco-cultural mission committed to provide travelers a soulful Mayan cultural experience as well as a Green Getaway to explore the eco-wonders and cultural traditions of the Maya; as well as to support the welfare of Mayan rural communities and to promote Sustainable Geo-Tourism.  Visit Hacienda Chichen Resort and Yaxkin Spa's website: www.haciendachichen.com

Enjoy Hacienda Chichen Resort's Flora Guide and Botanical Gardens beauty and serenity when visiting Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico.

Published Photos &  Information Courtesy of
Hacienda Chichen Resort and Mr. Jim Conrad
Maya Foundation In Laakeech A.C. Volunteer.
Sept. 2016

Yucatan Adventure: Mexico's best Green Eco-Travel Guide - Sustainable Tourism in Yucatan and the Mayan World.
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