Do you want to learn about the types of snakes found in Tunisia?
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 Tunisia that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂
You’ll see that the snakes in Tunisia 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 5 types of snakes that live in Tunisia:
#1. 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 Tunisia, 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.
#2. 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 Tunisia 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.
#3. 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!
#4. 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 Tunisia, 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.
#5. 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 Tunisia 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!
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 Tunisia in these ID Guides:
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Tunisia?
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