Stop spreading rumors of venomous snakes in SVG – Forestry Official
THE CHIRONIUS VINCENTI or Black snake is found only in SVG (Inset) Chief Wildlife Officer, Glenroy Gaymes
April 28, 2023

Stop spreading rumors of venomous snakes in SVG – Forestry Official

Persons who are spreading rumours about venomous, dangerous snakes being found in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are being asked to stop the counterproductive practice.

The word of advice, and warning, was issued by the Forestry Division within the Ministry of Agriculture, and comes on the heels of at least two persons on social media posting a photo of a rattle snake and claiming it was discovered in Bequia, and later on mainland St Vincent.

Chief Wildlife Officer, Glenroy Gaymes in an exclusive interview on Thursday, April 27 told SEARCHLIGHT that the photos and rumours are “absolutely” false and what the “ridiculous” postings have done is caused persons to now, more than ever, kill endangered species of endemic snakes that are internationally protected.

“It (photos posted) are not real. If you look at both photos you will see they are different snakes and the photos seemed photoshop.

“Also, there are no rattle snakes in the region. They like arid regions, not this region. These photos are totally false and whoever is doing it, we are contemplating bringing charges because they are putting the public under undue stress by spreading propaganda, and there is legislation to back us if we take persons to court,” stressed Gaymes.

He said that persons may take the social media postings as a joke, but it is not funny as it is causing persons to kill species of snakes that are only found in SVG, and in other cases found only in the region.

“… People being mischievous. They started by saying it is in Bequia and then Belair and then everywhere…and then people began saying it bit their dog,” Gaymes said.

He explained that what are found locally are a species of boa constrictors, what we call the Congo snake, and that is endemic to SVG; it is found nowhere else. The Chironius Vincenti or Black snake is also only found in SVG, while the Mastigodryas bruesi, known as the ‘White snake’ is only found in SVG, Grenada and Barbados.

“The first posting- we have an idea who did it, but the others, we don’t, so we are asking the general public to not panic,” stressed Gaymes who added that a few years ago in Buccama, a four-feet Congo snake was killed by some students, and a South African engineer working on a project saw the act and misconstrued the facts by saying the reptile was 20 feet long and that went viral and persons panicked.

Gaymes said it took him three days searching for the dead snake and when it was found, the Forestry Division was able to verify that it was indeed a local Congo snake.

“…So that is the situation. We have no venomous, poisonous snakes in SVG. All of our snakes are endemic, purely endemic or regionally endemic … In the Grenadines, we have more species but we also have the same White snake, and a different endemic Congo snake only found in Grenada and the Grenadines.

“We also have one that was introduced in Mustique (Cantilia)… and on Union Island there is one which looks like a worm,” Gaymes expounded.

“This worm snake, or blind snake is critically endangered and only seen in Carriacou and Union Island.”

Gaymes noted that the last sighting of a worm snake in Carriacou was in 1996, but it was photographed in Union Island a month ago.

“It means that Union is probably the only surviving population of that snake worldwide.

“None are harmful or venomous and they feed on insects like cockroaches, termites…and also rats, so they are more useful to us than harmful so people need to stop doing that,” Gaymes said referring to the false information being spread.

He pointed out that someone can be charged up to $2,000 or face six months in prison or both for killing a snake.

“We want to get that out,” Gaymes said, while noting that in 2018, a Union Island man was fined $750 by the court after he was found trying to smuggle out Union Island geckos, iguanas and a snake.

Gaymes said they were glad that they were able to break up that smuggling ring as another person, a Guyanese with Barbadian connections, was implicated in the smuggling operation but was never charged.