Do you want to learn about the types of snakes found in Egypt?
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 Egypt that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂
You’ll see that the snakes in Egypt 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!
9 types of snakes in Egypt:
#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 Egypt, 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 Egypt 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. 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 Egypt.
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!
#5. Diadem Snake
- Spalerosophis diadema
Also known as Royal Snake, Diademed Snake.
- Adults are fairly slender and can grow to 180 cm (71 in) in length.
- They are commonly pale and sandy in color with darker spots and blotches and a dark, reddish head.
- The scales on the head have an iridescent shine, resembling a crown or diadem. This is how the snake got its name!
Diadem Snakes in Egypt are most at home in sandy deserts and rocky lowlands.
You can find them tucked beneath rocks, roots, or abandoned animal burrows for protection. In deserts, they stay close to oases for easy access to food and water. They are primarily land-dwellers, but they have no trouble climbing trees.
Though mostly active in daylight, Diadem Snakes prefer hunting at dusk in the hotter seasons. Their venom is strong enough to kill prey but too weak to harm humans. They have an appetite for lizards, birds, small mammals, and even other snakes!
This quick-moving reptile will attempt to flee or thrash around to intimidate predators when danger is afoot. A cornered Diadem Snake can be unpredictably aggressive. Their bites can be painful, so keep your distance.
#6. Egyptian Sand Snake
- Psammophis aegyptius
Also known as Sahara Sand Snake.
- Adults reach a maximum length of 150 cm (59 in).
- Their tails are long and tapered, and they have elongated heads and snouts.
- Body color is typically light brown or olive with a cream-colored underside.
Egyptian Sand Snakes in Egypt like staying close to a water source, despite their desert habitat. You’ll likely find them near oases, on the prowl for small rodents, lizards, and migrant birds. They have a mild venom that’s only effective on their prey, so they aren’t dangerous to humans.
These reptiles are most active in daylight. Though they’re primarily land-dwelling creatures, Egyptian Sand Snakes are adept at climbing small trees and shrubbery.
The Egyptian Sand Snake is timid. If you try approaching one, it will either flee or puff up its throat as a scare tactic. A cornered snake, however, will not hesitate to strike in self-defense. So observe only from a distance!
#7. Moila Snake
- Malpolon moilensis
Also known as False Cobra, Hooded Malpolon, Talheh Snake.
- Adults are 80-140 cm (31-55 in) on average, but longer specimens reach 190 cm (75 in) long.
- Their eyes are big and round.
- You might see a dark blotch crossing their cheeks and jaws.
- They are light tan or straw in color. There’s a checkered pattern of brown spots across their bodies. Their bellies are paler in contrast.
Look for the Moila Snake in Egypt near stony deserts and dry shrublands.
It feeds on lizards, gerbils, beetles, and small birds during the day. However, it may adapt to hotter weather by hunting at night.
Curiously, the Moila Snake is sought after in the exotic pet trade despite being venomous. However, think twice before you decide to keep this snake as a pet. Some individuals are calm, while others are short-tempered, and Moila Snakes are notoriously volatile. Therefore, only experienced keepers can safely handle them.
If threatened, this species will flatten and spread its neck into a hood as a means of intimidation. This behavior is how it earned its other common name, the “False Cobra.” The venom isn’t strong enough to kill a human, but it can cause excruciating pain and swelling.
#8. 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 Egypt, 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!
#9. Brahminy Blindsnake
- Indotyphlops braminus
- Adults are 5.1-10.2 cm (2-4 in) long.
- Their coloring varies; charcoal gray, light yellow-beige, silver-gray, purplish, and white are common.
- The body shape is worm-like, and they are easily mistaken for earthworms.
This tiny species is the smallest snake in Egypt.
As its name suggests, the Brahminy Blindsnake is almost completely blind. It has small, translucent eyes that can detect light but not form images. Although native to Africa and Asia, this species is naturalized in Egypt. It’s also been transported to other parts of the world in the soil of potted plants, so the species earned the nickname “Flowerpot Snake.”
They spend almost all their time underground in ant and termite nests but also live under logs, moist leaves, and stones. Look for them in suburban and even urban gardens, as well as moist forests.
When distressed or attacked, the Brahminy Blindsnake will try to escape underground. If touched, it might press its tail on the attacker and release a smelly musk. Despite its rather creepy appearance, this snake is completely harmless to humans.
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 Egypt in these ID Guides:
- 9 Amazing ANIMALS to see in Egypt! (ID guide w/ pics)
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Egypt?
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