Do you want to learn about the snakes that live in Azerbaijan?
If so, you’ve come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the most common snakes you can expect to see. Then, for each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!
You’ll see that the snakes that live in Azerbaijan 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.
8 COMMON snakes that live in Azerbaijan:
#1. Levantine Viper
- Macrovipera lebetinus
Also known as West-Asian Blunt-nosed Viper, Levantine Adder, Lebanese Viper, Mountain Viper, Coffin Snake.
- Adults grow up to 150 cm (59 in) long.
- They have flat, broad, triangular heads with blunt snouts.
- Their coloring is gray, beige, or khaki, with brown or bluish blotches and stripes along the body.
Levantine Vipers are nocturnal residents of rocky hills, shrublands, and mountain valleys. When the sun is out, you might spot one resting in the shade of trees. In winter, they hibernate in groups to conserve heat, but they hunt alone for the rest of the year.
These vipers are ambush predators that lurk near water sources. Though they move sluggishly, they are deceptively fast when striking. Adults feed on lizards, birds, and rats. Young ones, on the other hand, prefer insects.
Bite incidents from Levantine Vipers are relatively common because they frequent urban areas with dense human populations. Symptoms include abdominal pain and blistering around the bite area. In severe cases, victims can die from internal bleeding. Seek immediate medical assistance if you get bitten.
#2. Grass Snake
- Natrix natrix
Also known as Ringed Snake or Water Snake.
- Adults can grow up to 150 cm (59 inches) long.
- Coloration is usually olive-green, brown, or gray with rows of black spots on the back and a row of black bars or spots on the sides.
- They have a characteristic black-bordered yellow collar behind the head.
This species is one of the most common snakes in Azerbaijan!
Since they are strong swimmers, look for them near wet areas, such as ponds, lakes, streams, ditches, and marshes. However, you’re also likely to find a Grass Snake in drier habitats, such as backyard gardens, open woodlands, and grasslands.
They are NOT venomous and rarely bite when captured or threatened. Instead, you can expect them to hiss and spray a smelly substance called musk from their anal glands. If this doesn’t work, they may pretend to be dead, flipping over and letting their tongue hang out of their mouth. Interestingly, Grass Snakes sometimes act like cobras, where they raise the front of their body and flatten their heads to resemble a hood! They use this mimicry as a way to intimidate predators.
Grass Snakes mostly eat amphibians, such as frogs and toads. They are not ambush predators and actively search for their prey using their keen eyesight and sense of smell. In addition, they eat their prey alive instead of killing it first by constriction.
#3. Javelin Sand Boa
- Eryx jaculus
Also known as Sand Boa.
- Adults can grow up to 80 cm (31.5 in) long.
- The head has no distinction from the body. A dark stripe runs from the eyes to the neck.
- Their coloring is cream, beige, and yellow to bright orange with irregular dark blotches on the back and small spots on the sides.
Despite their name, these snakes in Azerbaijan are not typically found in sandy areas. Instead, the best places for them are savanna-like habitats with loam soil or rocky slopes (if there is enough loose soil).
Sand Boas are hard to find 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! Consequently, as the Greeks conquered new territories, they spread this species, and the range of Sand Boas also increased. 🙂
#4. Tesselated Water Snake
- Natrix tessellata
Also known as Dice Snake.
- Their typical size is 100 – 130 cm (39–51 in) long.
- Their color varies from grayish green to brownish or almost black, with dark spots on their backs.
To find this snake in Azerbaijan, it’s best to look in the water!
In fact, the Tessellated Water Snake is a great swimmer and spends much of its time in aquatic habitats. Its primary food is fish, although amphibians are sometimes consumed too.
If you ever see underneath a Tesselated Water Snake, the belly is sometimes colored vividly in yellow or orange, with black spots. The pattern is very similar to dice, which is how they got their other common name, the Dice Snake!
#5. Steppe Ratsnake
- Elaphe dione
Also known as Dione’s Ratsnake.
- Adults are 90-110 cm (35-43 in) long.
- Their coloring is black, brown, beige, or red. In addition, some individuals might have stripes or blotches on their bodies.
The Steppe Ratsnake is a terrestrial snake with the ability to live in a wide variety of habitats. You can find this snake in forests, plains, rocky areas, wetlands, and deserts. It is active both during the day and at night. This is one species that isn’t picky about its surroundings!
Like other ratsnakes in Azerbaijan, the Steppe Ratsnake is non-venomous.
#6. Halys Pit Viper
- Gloydius halys
Also known as Siberian Pit Viper, Halys Viper, Pallas’s Pit Viper, Asiatic Pit Viper, Asiatic Moccasin, and Mongolian Pit Viper.
- The Halys pit viper can grow to a maximum length of 59 cm (23 in).
- Their coloring is gray, red, pale brown, or yellow, with large dark spots, crossbars, and a white belly speckled with gray or brown.
The Halys Pit Viper is a venomous snake found across Azerbaijan.
Its habitat includes montane slopes and plains or rocky high mountain plateaus. It is a terrestrial snake, mostly found on the ground. Look for this species during the day, which is its preferred time to hunt. Its diet includes lizards, rodents, snakes, birds, and frogs.
Keep a respectful distance if you see the Halys Pit Viper! This is an incredibly dangerous snake. Its venom contains neurotoxins, which affect the brain and nerves, and necrotoxins, which cause bleeding and infection.
Bite symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the amount of venom exposure. Victims have reported excruciating pain, severe swelling, bruising, blistering, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, respiratory distress, dizziness, collapse, or convulsions. The best way to avoid being bitten is to be cautious in this snake’s range and back away slowly if you discover one.
#7. Dahl’s Whip Snake
- Platyceps najadum
- A VERY slender snake that grows up to 120 cm / 47 in long.
- The head and first quarter of the body are usually grey with round, black circles on the sides that decrease in size.
- The rest of the body is a uniform beige-brown.
Dahl’s Whip Snake can be found in Azerbaijan in dry, stony habitats with low vegetation.
They are also seen in cultivated areas, such as olive groves and vineyards, especially if they have stone walls. These snakes are extremely fast and actively hunt lizards. The best time to find one is during the day, except when it gets very hot, then they become more active in the morning or evening.
Interestingly, Dahl’s Whip Snakes are not considered a venomous species because they don’t have fangs. BUT, if you are bitten, you may experience poisoning symptoms if the skin is penetrated and their saliva has time to work its way into the wound! Humans typically experience swelling near the bite, but some individuals even have lymph node swelling.
#8. Cat Snake
- Telescopus fallax
- Fairly slender and usually less than 100 cm (39 in) in length. The eyes have vertical pupils.
- Their body is beige or gray with large dark bars or blotches on their back and smaller ones on the sides.
- The head has a dark collar that often extends to the middle of the head.
Cat Snakes live in warm rocky areas, such as stone steppes and rocky slopes. But you may also find them in open deciduous forests, backyard gardens, orchards, or other habitats near humans, especially if there is a stone wall available to hide inside.
It’s fairly hard to see a Cat Snake in Azerbaijan because they rarely show themselves during the day. Instead, they are almost completely nocturnal, which is when they hunt for lizards and geckos while they sleep. Your best chance of finding one is turning over stones during spring or autumn.
Cat Snake Range Map
Cat Snakes are venomous, but luckily there have been no cases of one of them injecting venom into a human. They have rear fangs, which make it very hard to envenomate a person. In addition, the venom has low toxicity to do much damage to anything other than small prey. Lastly, they are calm snakes and normally don’t bite or hiss even when handled.
Do you want to learn about other animals in Azerbaijan?
If so, check out these guides!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Azerbaijan?
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