Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Blotched Hooknosed Snake, FICIMIA PUBLIA

from the January 10, 2010 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

Last week I invited help on a snake ID, the one shown above. Both good ol' Sleazel in Florida and Bruce at Florida State pegged the snake as a red morph of the Blotched Hooknosed Snake, FICIMIA PUBLIA.

Even though the snake had been illustrated in my Amphibians and Reptiles of Northern Guatemala, the Yucatán, and Belize by Jonathan Campbell, I hadn't recognized it because here we have a color variation not shown in the book and the species is not mentioned as being present in the Yucatán. The ground color is described as "pale tan, pale brown, yellowish tan, orange-tan or reddish brown," while our snake was red. Maybe we're contributing new information to the scientific community here.

Blotched Hooknosed Snakes are egg-laying (oviparous) and eat mostly spiders and insects. When they feel threatened they coil into a ball, gape wide their mouths and readily strike, though they're perfectly harmless. With such behavior and colors similar to our venomous Variable Coral Snake, they really look dangerous, though it's all bluff.

They're called "hooknosed" because their snouts are sharply edged and upturned, probably helping them root in forest-floor debris as they forage for spiders. I hadn't noticed this when I examined my roadkill because he was somewhat flattened all over.

Blotched Hooknosed Snakes occur in lowland southern Mexico and Belize to northern Honduras.