8 COMMON Snakes in Saudi Arabia! (2024)

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

Types of snakes in Saudi Arabia

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 Saudi Arabia 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 Saudi Arabia:


#1. Jan’s Cliff Racer

  • Platyceps rhodorachis

Also known as Braid Snake, Common Cliff Racer, Desert Racer, and Wadi Racer.

Common Saudi Arabia snakes
Credit: Barbod Safaei via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 100-110 cm (39-43 in) long.
  • They are slim-bodied with long, tapered tails.
  • Their coloring is gray or brown; some specimens have a single red line running along their backs from head to tail.

This small but speedy snake is native to Saudi Arabia. It makes its home in dry areas with sparse vegetation, such as semi-deserts and canyons. Lock your doors, or a Jan’s Cliff Racer might wander into your household searching for prey or a place to rest!

These reptiles are highly alert and have good vision. Adults chase down small lizards and rodents in the daytime and are even known to raid bird nests. Juvenile racers need smaller prey, such as crickets and other insects.

Jan’s Cliff Racers are timid, non-venomous creatures and harmless to humans. If you come across one, it will likely retreat into a crack or crevice. A cornered cliff racer, however, will hiss and strike at potential threats. Watch your toes!


#2. Diadem Snake

  • Spalerosophis diadema

Also known as Royal Snake, Diademed Snake.

Common snakes found in Saudi Arabia

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 Saudi Arabia 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.


#3. Arabian Cobra

  • Naja arabica

Snakes of Saudi Arabia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 240 cm (94 in) long.
  • Their heads are broad and flattened with round snouts.
  • The coloring is brown, copper, or dark gold, with pale throats and bellies.

It’s rare to see this snake in Saudi Arabia.

That’s because Arabian Cobras live in remote areas in the hottest deserts of the world! They stay close to the sparse vegetation and bodies of water in oases. During the day, they hunt frogs, small mammals, birds, and other snakes.

Guard your eyes! The Arabian Cobra can spray venom from 8 feet (2.4 m) away. As with other cobras, it will raise its forebody off the ground and spread its neck hood when confronting threats. This snake can be wildly unpredictable, so stay away.

Arabian Cobra venom is neurotoxic, attacking the nervous system and causing paralysis. Within hours, the lungs can shut down, resulting in death. There might not be pain or swelling in the bite area, but don’t let that fool you. Seek medical attention immediately!


#4. Glossy-bellied Racer

  • Platyceps ventromaculatus

Also known as Spotted Bellied Snake, Spotted Whip Snake, Hardwicke’s Rat Snake, and Gray’s Rat Snake.

Types of snakes in Saudi Arabia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 90-120 cm (35-47 in) long.
  • They have slender bodies and very long tails that taper off towards the tip, with notably large eyes.
  • Their coloring is olive, brown, tan, and yellow. Body markings include dark, jagged bands on the back and spots at the sides.

As you might have guessed from its name, the Glossy-bellied Racer is an amazingly speedy reptile with a shiny yellow belly. This snake uses its speed to hunt lizards, birds, and mice among rocky foothills, open grasslands, and deserts in Saudi Arabia.

Although it’s most active during the day, the Glossy-bellied Racer adjusts to a nocturnal life when the weather gets too hot. This snake is as agile in tall bushes as it is on land. Its saliva is toxic and effective against small prey, but thankfully, it’s too mild to harm humans.

The Glossy-bellied Racer often forages for food near agricultural lands and urban settlements. If you find one, there’s no need to feel alarmed. This timid snake will quickly flee and hide.


#5. Moila Snake

  • Malpolon moilensis

Also known as False Cobra, Hooded Malpolon, Talheh Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Saudi Arabia 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.


#6. Javelin Sand Boa

  • Eryx jaculus

Also known as Sand Boa.

sand boa

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Saudi Arabia 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. 🙂


#7. Forskal Sand Snake

  • Psammophis schokari

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

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, and 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 immobilize lizards, frogs, rodents, and birds quickly. 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. In fact, these little helpers keep the population of vermin like mice and rats in check!


#8. Brahminy Blindsnake

  • Indotyphlops braminus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Saudi Arabia.

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 Saudi Arabia. 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 want to learn about other animals in Saudi Arabia?

If so, check out these guides!


Which of these snakes have you seen before in Saudi Arabia?

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