Snake Encounters in Costa Rica

Snake encounters in Costa Rica are not uncommon. In 2022, the Costa Rican Fire Department responded to over 5,762 snake-related incidents! As a result, it is critical that Costa Ricans take precautions to avoid emergencies. In the improbable event of a snake bite, call 9-1-1 for emergency help and take appropriate precautions.

It is critical to be knowledgeable about snakes and their behavior, as well as to comprehend the natural position of snakes in an ecosystem. Killing or moving them will have a negative impact on the food supply chain and the environment. In this blog entry, we will provide some useful information about snakes as well as what to do and what not to do in the event of a snake bite. Let’s get started!

Understanding who we are for snakes

The most important thing to remember when walking through a rainforest is that humans are large animals (at least in the Neotropics). We are not the prey that snakes are looking for. We are not food. But we can be their threat, and therefore, we have to be careful not to unwittingly become their enemy.

Snakes do not need venom to attack humans.

Venom aids a snake in quickly subduing its prey. A snake’s ability to capture and ingest its prey all at once can be challenging. The snake might only have one chance to catch the mouse or frog before it flees.

As a result, biting enables the snake to infuse venom into its prey. The prey animal will then slow down long enough for the snake to catch up and eat it later.

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Venom also aids in the digestion of certain snake species’ meals. The snake’s mouth is not only the best tool for hunting and eating, but it is also the only tool it has. As a result, snakes are free to use this tool as they see fit.

Having said all this, we must understand that they are not looking to waste their precious venom in an animal they cannot eat.

However, they will use it if they feel cornered, or hurt. Like when a foot steps on their heads. And that is why it is so important to have closed shoes when you walk in the forest.

But also to avoid stepping on the places where they may be hiding. Leaves, old trunks, old edifications (Like ruins and such).

Keep reading to tell you more about these common places.

Understanding Snakes

  • The vast majority of snakes do not seek out human contact. They avoid humans and would like to flee if given the chance.
  • Snakes are nocturnal animals.
  • Snakes prefer to remain hidden the majority of the time. They prefer to hide under rocks, on trees, on ledges, inside hollow logs, and under wood piles.
  • They like to come out and bask in the sun when it’s sunny.
  • Snakes are masters of disguise. They blend well with dry leaves and tree bark.
  • Snakes have no external ears. They hear through their jawbone and inner ear. As a result, they can only hear vibrations.
  • A snake feels threatened when you tread on it, corner it, or threaten it by throwing stones, attempting to pick it up, or chasing it.
  • If the snake curls up or raises its head, it means it is ready to strike.
  • Snakes that have died can still bite. The snake’s nervous system continues to function shortly after death, and the venom remains.

How to Avoid Snakes While Outdoors

  • Try to wear closed shoes, especially if in the forest or hotel gardens.
  • Wear over-the-ankle, covered shoes, preferably high hiking boots.
  • Avoid going out late at night. Carry a flashlight with you if necessary.
  • It is critical to recognize when you are entering snake territory. Snakes are common in some areas of Costa Rica, including Manuel Antonio, Quepos, Guanacaste, Limon, the South Pacific zone, and Atenas. In such cases, exercise extreme caution.
  • Always look before placing your hand on a tree or a plant. (Not only because of snakes but also ants, spiders, and other critters.
  • Always stick to the designated hiking trails. Never walk through thickets.
  • Keep an eye out for puddles and loose foliage near a water source.
  • Bring along a hiking stick. Tap ahead of you if you can’t see your next step. This will give the snake enough time to get away from you.

Dos and Don’ts of Snake Bites


  • Call 911 as soon as the bite happens.
  • Restrict movement To reduce the flow of venom, immobilize the bitten site and keep it below the level of the heart.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. Maintain your cool.
  • Assure yourself or the other person that snake bites are treatable in an emergency room.
  • Disinfect the bitten area with nothing more than soap and water. Remove any constricting items, such as rings, as the bitten area may swell.
  • As soon as possible, get to a hospital or other medical facility to obtain antivenom serum.
  • Get a picture of the snake if you can and give it to the paramedics as soon as they arrive. Or take it with you to the hospital if you are going in your own vehicle. (If you could not take the picture, try to remember the details, colors, size, and shape of the head) with you to the hospital if you have one. This will assist medical personnel in determining the type of anti-venom to be administered to you.


  • Do not overexert the individual.
  • Carry them to a safe place to rest.
  • Do not administer any medications, ointments, or plant extracts.
  • Applying ice or cold compresses to the bitten area is not advised.
  • Do not attempt to suck the venom out of your mouth.
  • Do not use a knife or razor to cut into the bitten area.
  • Avoid using a tourniquet.
  • Do not raise the affected limb above the level of the heart.



Snake Encounters in Costa Rica: The DOs and DON’Ts of Snake Safety


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