4 COMMON Snakes Found in Libya! (2024)

Do you want to learn about the types of snakes found in Libya?

Types of snakes in Libya

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 Libya that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂

You’ll see that the snakes in Libya 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!

4 types of snakes in Libya:


#1. Forskal Sand Snake

  • Psammophis schokari

Also known as Schokari Sand Racer and Afro-Asian Sand Snake

Common Libya snakes

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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

Common snakes found in Libya

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Libya, 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. Diadem Snake

  • Spalerosophis diadema

Also known as Royal Snake, Diademed Snake.

Common Libya 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 Libya 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.


#4. Egyptian Sand Snake

  • Psammophis aegyptius

Also known as Sahara Sand Snake.

Common snakes found in Libya
Credit: Saar Dayag via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Libya 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!


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 Libya in these ID Guides:


Which of these snakes have you seen before in Libya?

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