8 COMMON Snakes in Kazakhstan! (2024)

Do you want to learn about the snakes that live in Kazakhstan?

Types of snakes in Kazakhstan

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 Kazakhstan 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 Kazakhstan:


#1. Diadem Snake

  • Spalerosophis diadema

Also known as Royal Snake, Diademed Snake.

Common Kazakhstan snakes

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Kazakhstan 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.


#2. Spotted Desert Racer

  • Platyceps karelini
Common snakes found in Kazakhstan
Credit (left image): Nasser Halaweh, (right image): Mohammad Amin Ghaffari, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow 65-75 cm (26-30 in) long, but they can reach 90 cm (35 in).
  • Females are larger than males.
  • These are slender-bodied snakes with large eyes and short snouts.
  • Their coloring is grayish-brown with paler undersides and a series of black spots or bars across the body. Some specimens have reddish tails.

Spotted Desert Racers are one of the fastest-moving snakes in Kazakhstan.

It’s not hard to tell how they got their name! Look for this species in arid deserts, steppes, and plains. They’re shy snakes, preferring to slither away quickly if they feel threatened.

This species is smaller and vulnerable to predators, so it often takes shelter in empty animal burrows. Their diets consists mostly of small lizards and mice, but it also includes insects, birds, and bird eggs.

These snakes are non-venomous, and their saliva is only toxic to small prey. Spotted Desert Racers pose no danger to humans, but don’t try to catch one! While usually calm, they can bite if agitated. Bites may cause an itching sensation that can last for hours.


#3. Desert Sand Boa

  • Eryx miliaris

Also known as Dwarf Sand Boa, Tartar Sand Boa.

Snakes of Kazakhstan

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are usually 35-55 cm (14-22 in) long.
  • They are thick-bodied snakes with short, stocky tails.
  • You’ll see a dark streak running from each eye down to the angle of the mouth.
  • Their coloring is sandy yellow or brown with overlapping spots and blotches.

Desert Sand Boas inhabit deserts and semi-desert steppes in Kazakhstan. They like to make homes out of animal burrows. These snakes hunt for lizards, rodents, and insects when the sun goes down.

If you’re looking for this species, look closely at the sand! Equipped with eyes that are slightly tilted upwards, Desert Sand Boas can observe their surroundings even while burrowed, with just their eyes peeking out. Interestingly, they lunge sideways instead of forward when grabbing prey.

Desert Sand Boas don’t have venom, but their saliva is toxic. They’re famous among exotic pet keepers for their docile nature. However, they can be aggressive while feeding. Due to their saliva, their bites can cause pain, swelling, and secondary infection. Don’t attempt to handle this snake unless you have plenty of experience!


#4. Grass Snake

  • Natrix natrix

Also known as Ringed Snake or Water Snake.

Types of snakes in Kazakhstan

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Kazakhstan!

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.


#5. Tesselated Water Snake

  • Natrix tessellata

Also known as Dice Snake.

dice snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Kazakhstan, 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!


#6. Steppe Ratsnake

  • Elaphe dione

Also known as Dione’s Ratsnake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Kazakhstan, the Steppe Ratsnake is non-venomous.


#7. 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.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Kazakhstan.

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.


#8. Steppe Ribbon Racer

  • Psammophis lineolatus

Also known as Arrow Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 91 cm (35 in) long.
  • The back is olive-gray, sandy brown, or brownish-gray. The edges of the scales are slightly lighter than the middle, which gives them a raised appearance.
  • The underparts are white with gray, brown, or olive-gray spots.

As its name suggests, this species is a quick snake and will often flee if confronted. The nocturnal habits and skittish nature of the Steppe Ribbon Racer make it difficult to observe in the wild. Little is known about its global population because of how hard these snakes are to find. However, it’s considered relatively common throughout its range.

The Steppe Ribbon Racer is only mildly venomous and isn’t harmful to humans. They are nocturnal snakes that prefer to move and hunt during the night. They primarily eat lizards and spend much of their time in sandy areas.


Do you want to learn about other animals in Kazakhstan?

If so, check out these guides!


Which of these snakes have you seen before in Kazakhstan?

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