The Truth About The Rarest Snake In The World

A healthy fear of snakes is nothing to be ashamed of, and if you find yourself shivering at the thought of a scaly, legless reptile getting close to your person, we've got good news. The Saint Lucia racer, also known as the ornate ground snake, is now considered the most endangered snake species in the world. There are only 18 known Saint Lucia racers left in the world, not counting the one right behind you.

According to Fauna and Flora International, this critter has officially been designated the rarest snake on the planet. For a time, it was a common sight in Saint Lucia, hence its name, but an onslaught of invasive mongooses wiped out the helpless slitherers. It's now confined entirely to the island of Maria Major, a land mass of just 10.1 hectares with just a single, wordless, 5-star Google review. Maria Major was declared a nature reserve in 1982, and now serves as home to several endemic species, including the Worm Snake and the Saint Lucia whiptail.

On snakey ground

The Saint Lucia racer has had a rough go of things. For a good chunk of the 20th century, scientists were pretty sure it had gone extinct. A specimen was discovered in 1973, and researchers realized that a few of the snakes had made it to the small islet a mile off the Saint Lucia coast, avoiding their comrades' mongoose-heavy doom.

It's an unremarkable snake to look at. It doesn't sport flashy colors or nightmare fangs. It's a brown, non-venomous snake, sometimes with yellow spots. It grows to be about four feet long. It eats small lizards. Mongabay News states that it doesn't mind being picked up, although to be fair, that's what we'd tell tourists about snakes, too, given the opportunity.

Wildlife conservationists at FFI are currently in the process of trying to reinvigorate the species, hoping to spread captive-bred racers to more islands and reach a goal of 500 individuals by 2024. If you like the sound of a world with more snakes in it, you can find out more about their efforts here.