Do you want to learn about the types of snakes found in Algeria?
If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the MOST COMMON snakes you can expect to see. Unfortunately, there are so many snakes that live in Algeria that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂
You’ll see that the snakes in Algeria are very different from each other. They range from venomous species to snakes that use constriction to immobilize their prey. In addition, certain snakes are common to find living around people. For each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!
Here are 11 types of snakes that live in Algeria:
#1. Forskal Sand Snake
- Psammophis schokari
Also known as Schokari Sand Racer and Afro-Asian Sand Snake
- It is a slender snake about 70-150 cm (28-59 in) long with a tapering tail.
- The head is flat and elongated. The snout is long. The eyes are large with rounded pupils.
- Coloration greatly varies depending on habitat:
- Morph #1: Light brown with dark stripes, appropriate for densely vegetated areas
- Morph #2: Light-colored with little to no stripes, a good camouflage for sandy terrain
The Forskal Sand Snake is something you might encounter in sandy deserts, shrublands, or oases. It’s an excellent tree climber. However, it also makes its home under rocks and abandoned burrows.
Its other common name, the Schokari Sand Racer, hints at its outstanding speed! Its agility and venom allow it to quickly immobilize lizards, frogs, rodents, and birds. Although most active during the day, it prefers to hunt at night during the hotter months.
If you try to approach this mild-mannered snake, it will likely retreat into a nearby hole or bush. Forskal Sand Snakes are harmless to humans. Quite the opposite, these little helpers keep the vermin population in check!
#2. Desert Horned Viper
- Cerastes cerastes
Also known as Saharan Horned Viper, North African Horned Viper, Greater Cerastes
- Adults are 30-85 cm (12-33 in) long. Females are longer, but males have larger heads and eyes.
- Their coloring ranges from yellow, gray, pink, and red to brown.
- This species owes its common name to the pair of horn-like protrusions above its eyes. Also notable are the rectangular blotches along its body.
- They have heavily keeled scales that they rub together to make a rasping sound when they feel threatened.
While looking for snakes in Algeria, you might find a pattern of strange S-shaped markings in the sand.
If you find this pattern, tread carefully! A Desert Horned Viper might be nearby.
This nocturnal viper is an ambush predator. It lies submerged in sand, waiting for an opportunity for lunch in the form of lizards and rodents. It bites down, then holds its prey in its jaws until the venom does its work.
While there are no known human fatalities from a Desert Horned Viper, its bite can still cause intense swelling and hemorrhage. Seek immediate treatment if you get bitten. This viper is not known for its easy-going nature, so back down and move away slowly if you find yourself in a face-off against one.
#3. Egyptian Cobra
- Naja haje
Also known as the Brown Cobra
- On average, these snakes are 140-259 cm (55-102 in) long.
- The easiest way to recognize the Egyptian Cobra is through its broad, flattened head distinct from its long, ribbed neck, which expands to form a hood when it feels threatened.
- Coloration varies geographically, but the most common is brown. However, some snakes are red, gray, or black.
The Egyptian Cobra is as deadly as it is famous. It can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where Pharaohs used it to symbolize their power to take life. Today, you’ll find this snake in Algeria swimming in shallow waters or resting in abandoned animal burrows.
The venom of the Egyptian Cobra has neurotoxins and cytotoxins that assault the nervous system. Respiratory failure and death may happen in the worst-case scenario. The venom is slow-acting, so seek treatment if you get bitten, even if you don’t immediately show symptoms.
Foraging for food sometimes brings the Egyptian Cobra to human settlements. However, it will favor escaping if confronted. Its favorite meals are toads, but it will also go for lizards, birds, and other snakes.
#4. Algerian Whip Snake
- Hemorrhois algirus
Also known as Algerian Grass Snake
- Adults are about 70-140 cm (28-55 in) long.
- They have slender, cylindrical bodies with long tails.
- These snakes are usually beige or green, contrasted by black transverse bars along their body.
- Some individuals have a horseshoe marking or rounded blotches on the head.
Algerian Whip Snakes aren’t long-distance travelers, rarely straying far from their lairs. However, they like having a water supply close by, so riverbanks and ponds are likely spots. In addition, you might find them foraging for food near old buildings, gardens, and open parks.
If you encounter one, there’s no need to worry. Their venom only harms smaller prey like lizards, mice, and songbirds. Notably timid, they prefer escaping over confrontation. Still, they are quick to bite if handled, so try not to get too close!
#5. Sahara Sand Viper
- Cerastes vipera
Also known as Sahara Hornless Viper, Lesser Cerastes, Common Sand Viper, Egyptian Asp, Cleopatra’s Asp, Avicenna Viper
- These are short snakes, measuring only 20-60 cm (8-24 in) long.
- Body coloration is light brown to orange-red.
- Females are considerably larger than males, and the tips of their tails are distinctly black.
- They have broad, triangular heads when viewed from above.
The Sahara Sand Viper is small, thick-bodied, and highly venomous. Look for this snake in the deserts of Algeria.
A nocturnal predator, the Sahara Sand Viper lays patiently under cover of sand with only its eyes and snout uncovered. It can wait for hours in preparation for an ambush. Occasionally, it uses the black tip of its tail to lure unfortunate lizards, rodents, and geckos to their death.
Its venom is not fatal to humans, but be careful as bites are serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital. When threatened, the Sahara Sand Viper rubs the sides of its scaled body together, producing a raspy hissing noise. Observe from a distance, as this is an irritable snake!
#6. Moorish Viper
- Daboia mauritanica
Also known as Sahara Rock Viper, Atlas Blunt-nosed Viper, Atlas Adder, Mountain Adder
- The Moorish Viper grows 130-240 cm (51-94 in) long.
- It’s usually gray or brown, but some have been observed to be red or green.
- Circular spots and pigmented zig-zags appear along the back.
- It has a strong, well-built body, but its weight makes it a slow-moving snake.
Look for the venomous Moorish Viper in moderately humid woodlands, watering holes, or rocky crevices. It can be difficult to find because it prefers tight spaces. Upon sensing danger, this species coils into itself, flattening its head and hissing loudly to dissuade attackers.
The Moorish Viper is an ambush predator that hunts during the early evening hours. It strategically positions itself along animal paths and will lie in wait for prey, so use caution when following these trails! It has a taste for lizards, small mammals, and young birds.
Listed as a Near Threatened species by the IUCN, Moorish Vipers are often killed by humans in road encounters or sold by poachers for snake charming exhibitions. Its venom is hemotoxic and will cause excessive bleeding in unlucky victims. Hopefully, not you!
#7. Viperine Snake
- Natrix maura
- Colors range between gray, brown, or reddish.
- Down its back, look for a black, zig-zag stripe. Along the sides are black circles.
- Adults can grow to 85 cm (33 in).
Despite its name, Viperine Snakes are NOT venomous. But they share many behavioral similarities with Adders (which ARE venomous), along with looking alike, which is how they got their name.
Viperine Snake Range Map
To find this snake in Algeria, you must head to an aquatic habitat as they are water snakes. They are strong swimmers and primarily hunt and eat fish and frogs.
While Viperine Snakes are fairly common, they are sensitive to changes and pollution in their wetland habitats. In addition, they are often killed by people who mistake them for a venomous viper.
#8. Western Montpellier Snake
- Malpolon monspessulanus
- Quite large and can grow to be up to 2 meters long (6.5 feet) and weigh 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)!
- Large prominent eyes with a distinct “eyebrow,” which is a ridge above their eye.
- The body is a uniform yellowish, gray, or olive, often followed by a bluish or dark gray “saddle” on the back.
Despite being venomous, these snakes are not considered a threat to humans in Algeria.
First, the venom has low toxicity and is not very dangerous. Second, when they feel threatened, Western Montpellier Snakes typically slither away quickly. And if they can’t get away, they first try to scare you away by hissing repeatedly, then raising the front of their body and expanding their neck, just like a cobra!
Western Montpellier Snake Range Map
Lastly, since the fangs are positioned toward the back of the mouth, it’s unlikely any venom would be released during a bite. Only a few cases of venom being injected into a person have ever been reported.
Western Montpellier Snakes adapt to the presence of humans quite well and are common, despite their large size. Look for them in a wide range of habitats. Their main prey includes lizards, so they are often found in dry areas where lizards like to inhabit.
#9. Southern Smooth Snake
- Coronella girondica
- A small, round-bodied snake that grows from 50-80 cm (20-31 in) long.
- They are brown or grayish, with blackish bars or spots running down their back.
- The rear of the head is a dark U-shaped mark or a pair of dark elongate spots.
Look for this snake in Algeria living in dry, rocky open spaces. Rocky hillsides, stone walls, quarries, and the edges of open woodlands and hedgerows offer lots of hiding places for Southern Smooth Snakes.
Southern Smooth Snake Range Map
This small snake is discreet and hard to find. In addition, they are mainly active at night. And if you come across a Southern Smooth Snake, they are harmless and rarely bite. The worst thing they will probably do is release a smelly substance onto your hand.
They primarily eat small lizards and hunt for them by actively searching in their shelters. In contrast to the Smooth Snake, they lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young.
#10. Horseshoe Whip Snake
- Hemorrhois hippocrepis
- Usually grows to around 160 cm (63 in) in length.
- Yellow, beige, olive, or gray. They get darker with age.
- A row of round dark spots on the back. Smaller dark patches on each side.
- Dark horseshoe-shaped marking on the neck and a dark band between the eyes.
Look for Horseshoe Whip Snakes in Algeria in dry, rocky, sunny areas with open vegetation. They are also sometimes found in urban areas and rural gardens, especially near stone walls.
Horseshoe Whip Snake Range Map
These snakes are incredibly agile and fast-moving. So it should be no surprise that they actively hunt their prey, which includes small mammals, lizards, birds, and invertebrates.
Horseshoe Whip Snakes are shy and usually run away quickly at the first sign of danger. This wariness, combined with their fast speed, means getting a good look at one can be hard. If they become cornered and can’t escape, they will flatten their head, hiss loudly, and bite readily!
#11. Sand Boa
- Eryx jaculus
Also known as the Javelin Sand Boa.
- It can grow as large as 80 cm (31 in).
- The head has no distinction from the body. A dark stripe runs from the eyes to the neck.
- Coloration is cream, beige, and yellow to bright orange. Irregular dark blotches line the back, and small spots cover the sides.
These African snakes are not typically found in sandy areas despite their name. Instead, the best places for them are savanna-like habitats with loam soil or rocky slopes (if there is enough loose soil).
Sand Boa Range Map
Sand Boas are hard to see because they are nocturnal and spend most of their life underground. They don’t come out to bask in the sun but instead get warm by basking just under fallen leaves, stones, or the surface of loose soil. They rarely bite when handled and typically act sluggish.
These snakes have an interesting role in history. To cause confusion and fear during naval battles, they were shot by the ancient Greeks at their enemies! And as the Greeks conquered new territories, the range of Sand Boas also increased. 🙂
Do you need more help identifying a snake you saw in Africa?
If so, check out this field guide, which is full of great information!
Learn more about animals found in Algeria in these ID Guides:
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Algeria?
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