Do you want to learn about the types of snakes found in Ghana?
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 Ghana that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂
You’ll see that the snakes in Ghana 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 8 types of snakes that live in Ghana:
#1. Cape House Snake
- Boaedon capensis
Also known as the Brown House Snake and Common House Snake
- Adults are 60 cm (24 in) on average, but they can grow up to 120 cm (47 in).
- They are various shades of yellow and brown, but some individuals are brick red.
- You will notice two white lines on the head: one from the back of the eye to the tip of the mouth and the other from the nose to the back of the head.
- The belly is creamy white, with stripes running along the body.
The Cape House Snake is frequently seen in grassy and suburban areas, but it doesn’t stop there. As its name suggests, it has a habit of appearing in houses unannounced, especially at night!
Luckily, these snakes are harmless to humans. They slowly drag themselves around at night to catch unsuspecting rodents, lizards, and birds. Without venom to paralyze their prey, Cape House Snakes constrict their prey with strong muscles along their bodies.
The Cape House Snake is popular among exotic pet owners due to being low-maintenance. However, owners should be careful to keep these snakes separated. In captivity, they breed up to six times per year as opposed to two times in the wild.
#2. Red-lipped Snake
- Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia
Also known as Common Herald Snake, White-lipped Herald Snake, Savanna White-lipped Snake, Black-templed Cat Snake
- This snake can grow to 70-100 cm (28-39 in) long.
- Coloration is usually olive green or gray on the back, sometimes speckled white. Its head is notably black.
- True to its name, it has a bright red (sometimes orange or yellow) upper lip most prominently displayed when it feels threatened.
- The head is broad and triangular, while the tail is short.
You’ll find Red-lipped Snakes near marshlands, bogs, and lowland forests in Ghana.
They also gravitate towards the suburbs, so you might bump into one in your backyard after an evening rain.
Most active during the night, these land snakes prey on amphibians such as toads and frogs. Their venom is mild, effective only on their chosen prey, and harmless to humans. They also have a mild and shy demeanor.
Don’t test your luck, though. Red-lipped snakes have a trigger-happy temper when provoked. So even though its venom isn’t dangerous, its bite is still painful!
Interestingly, the Red-lipped Snake got its other common name, the Herald Snake, from a newspaper story. It was first mentioned in the Eastern Cape’s Herald newspaper!
#3. Ball Python
- Python regius
Also known as the Royal Python
- These relatively small snakes only measure 100-182 cm (39-72 in) long.
- They have small heads and thin necks. Their scales are smooth.
- Ball Pythons can be black or brown-bodied with light and dark blotches on the back. The belly is white.
- Sometimes, yellow stripes appear from the nostrils to the eyes.
As you might have guessed from its name, the Ball Python is more likely to curl into a ball than bite if threatened. However, because of their docile behavior, many people choose to keep them as pets. With proper care, they live 15-30 years on average.
Unfortunately, the pet trade has wreaked havoc on their worldwide distribution. Because of poaching, habitat destruction, and egg hunting for trade, Ball Pythons are listed as a Near Threatened species by the IUCN. On the other hand, irresponsible pet owners have let Ball Pythons escape, allowing this species to become invasive in places where it’s not native.
In the wild, the smaller males hunt birds and bats in trees, while the larger females hunt rodents or small mammals on land. Both males and females incapacitate their prey with crushing constriction, then swallow it whole.
#4. Central African Rock Python
- Python sebae
Also known as Northern African Rock Python
- Adults reach impressive lengths of 350-750 cm (138-295 in).
- It has two noticeable lines from the nose to the back of the head.
- Striped blotches decorate the body, colored olive, brown, or yellow.
- There is a distinct yellow inverted “V” marking under the eyes.
The Central African Rock Python is the longest snake in Ghana!
Found near bodies of water, this heavyweight python enjoys environments such as forests, savannas, swamps, and semi-deserts.
Central African Rock Pythons may be non-venomous, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security. This species is strong enough to kill a human with its powerful constriction. Additionally, they routinely swallow antelopes, monkeys, and monitor lizards whole.
Unlike most snakes, Central African Rock Pythons are protective mothers. They fiercely guard their nest after laying eggs, protecting their young from predators and lashing out at unsuspecting passersby. They’re even known to be territorial of a nest after the eggs have hatched!
#5. Rhinoceros Viper
- Bitis nasicornis
Also known as Butterfly Viper, Rhinoceros Horned Viper, River Jack, Horned Puff Adder
- Adults grow to 60-120 cm (24-47 in).
- You can easily identify this viper by its striking geometric markings in shades of blue, green, yellow, and black. These patterns can be oblong or diamond in shape.
- The colors appear duller after shedding its skin, allowing silt to cover the rough scales.
The Rhinoceros Viper is named for its elongated scales on top of its nose, which resemble rhinoceros horns. It prefers forested and marshy areas and is mostly terrestrial. However, it’s also excellent at climbing trees and swimming in shallow bodies of water.
If patience is your virtue, then you might appreciate this ambush predator. Most of the Rhinoceros Viper’s life is spent lying motionless, waiting for prey to pass by. It feeds on small mammals in forests or amphibians and fish in wetlands.
This snake’s venom is incredibly potent and lethal to humans. The poison attacks cell tissue and blood vessels, leading to internal bleeding. Luckily, the Rhinoceros Viper has a calm disposition and you will be warned with a prolonged hiss if you come close, which means you NEED to back away slowly.
#6. Blanding’s Tree Snake
- Toxicodryas blandingii
Also known as Blanding’s Cat Snake, Black and Yellow Tree Snake, Brown Tree Snake
- These are thick-bodied snakes with slender tails, measuring 160-279 cm (63-110 in) long.
- Females and subadults are brown and spotted, while males are black and yellow.
- They have short, broad heads distinct from their narrow necks.
- Vertical slits punctuate their large, dark eyes.
The Blanding’s Tree Snake makes its home in rainforests and wooded savannas south of the Sahara desert. As an exceptionally talented climber, it can be found up to 30 meters (98 feet) off the ground in the trees.
This rear-fanged snake hunts by moving slowly across intertwining branches to inspect the cracks and hollows of trunks. They have an appetite for rodents, lizards, chameleons, and bird eggs.
You might chance upon it in parks and gardens searching for prey. Occasionally, this snake wanders inside buildings to hunt roosting bats. It inflates its body and opens its mouth wide as a warning before striking. While Blanding’s Tree Snakes are venomous, they don’t pose a significant threat to humans.
#7. Emerald Snake
- Hapsidophrys smaragdinus
Also known as Emerald Tree Snake
- These snakes are 76-122 cm (30-48 in).
- Their coloring is emerald green, with some aqua blue scales.
- The short head is strongly arched between the eyes.
As an arboreal species, the Emerald Snake in Ghana spends most of its life climbing, hunting, and traveling from tree to tree. Its deep green camouflage and slender vine-like appearance make it nearly invisible among vines and foliage! Consequently, you’ll have to look hard if you want to catch it in action.
Emerald Snakes have a particularly interesting defense mechanism that starts with inflating the skin of its neck. Once inflated, a pattern of black skin, light blue spots, and green scales are revealed, startling and confusing the predator. This display gives the Emerald Snake a chance to retreat into the tangle of leaves and branches quickly.
Emerald Snakes are non-venomous and non-aggressive, but their bites may cause rashes and itchiness. Because of their docile nature and bright coloring, they are sometimes sold as pets, living 10-15 years in captivity.
#8. Black-necked Spitting Cobra
- Naja nigricollis
- A. Morph #1: Black or gray body with pink bars on the broad neck and a reddish belly.
- B. Morph #2: Light brown or yellow body with no neck bands.
- C. Morph #3: White and black stripes on the body or solid white with dark eyes.
- Average length is 1-2 m (4-7 ft).
Look for these snakes in Ghana near streams and rivers in savannas.
Black-necked Spitting Cobras are highly adaptable and can be active day or night. This far-ranging snake’s prey includes small vertebrates on the ground or bird eggs in trees.
When confronting possible threats, Black-necked Spitting Cobras rise from the ground and spread their impressive neck hoods. Then, true to their name, they will spit venom to blind their aggressors. Keep your eyes covered because these cobras have amazing aim and can hit their target up to seven meters away!
Black-necked Spitting Cobra bites can cause symptoms such as swelling, blistering, extreme pain, and loss of limb function. In worst-case scenarios, death may occur due to paralysis of the diaphragm.
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 Ghana in these ID Guides:
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Ghana?
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