Do you want to learn about the types of snakes found in Sierra Leone?
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 Sierra Leone that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂
You’ll see that the snakes in Sierra Leone 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!
Here are 5 types of snakes that live in Sierra Leone:
- Dispholidus typus
Also known as Common African Tree Snake, Kivu Boomslang, and Kivu Large Green Tree Snake
- Adults are usually 100-160 cm (39-63 in) long.
- Coloration varies greatly, allowing these snakes to camouflage in different terrains.
- Generally, males are light green, scaled with black and blue, and females are brown.
- Boomslangs have an egg-shaped head and notably large eyes.
This slender snake in Sierra Leone makes its home in low-lying trees.
In fact, its common name Boomslang means “tree snake” in Afrikaans and Dutch. Be careful within this species’ range because the next vine you pull might become a deadly encounter!
This snake’s venom is highly potent, causing bleeding and death for humans, even in small doses. However, compared to front-fanged snakes, which release large amounts of venom at once, rear-fanged snakes like the Boomslang inject small amounts of venom in quick succession.
When confronted, the Boomslang will freeze and then swing its head from side to side before quickly attacking. Fortunately, Boomslangs won’t attack humans except as a last resort. If you are bitten, seek immediate treatment. Victims might get a false sense of safety because the venom is slow-acting, but many people have died from internal bleeding hours later.
#2. Ball Python
- Python regius
Also known as the Royal Python
- These relatively small snakes only measure 100-182 cm (39-72 in) long.
- They have small heads and thin necks. Their scales are smooth.
- Ball Pythons can be black or brown-bodied with light and dark blotches on the back. The belly is white.
- Sometimes, yellow stripes appear from the nostrils to the eyes.
As you might have guessed from its name, the Ball Python is more likely to curl into a ball than bite if threatened. However, because of their docile behavior, many people choose to keep them as pets. With proper care, they live 15-30 years on average.
Unfortunately, the pet trade has wreaked havoc on their worldwide distribution. Because of poaching, habitat destruction, and egg hunting for trade, Ball Pythons are listed as a Near Threatened species by the IUCN. On the other hand, irresponsible pet owners have let Ball Pythons escape, allowing this species to become invasive in places where it’s not native.
In the wild, the smaller males hunt birds and bats in trees, while the larger females hunt rodents or small mammals on land. Both males and females incapacitate their prey with crushing constriction, then swallow it whole.
#3. Blanding’s Tree Snake
- Toxicodryas blandingii
Also known as Blanding’s Cat Snake, Black and Yellow Tree Snake, Brown Tree Snake
- These are thick-bodied snakes with slender tails, measuring 160-279 cm (63-110 in) long.
- Females and subadults are brown and spotted, while males are black and yellow.
- They have short, broad heads distinct from their narrow necks.
- Vertical slits punctuate their large, dark eyes.
The Blanding’s Tree Snake makes its home in rainforests and wooded savannas south of the Sahara desert. As an exceptionally talented climber, it can be found up to 30 meters (98 feet) off the ground in the trees.
This rear-fanged snake hunts by moving slowly across intertwining branches to inspect the cracks and hollows of trunks. They have an appetite for rodents, lizards, chameleons, and bird eggs.
You might chance upon it in parks and gardens searching for prey. Occasionally, this snake wanders inside buildings to hunt roosting bats. It inflates its body and opens its mouth wide as a warning before striking. While Blanding’s Tree Snakes are venomous, they don’t pose a significant threat to humans.
#4. Brown House Snake
- Boaedon fuliginosus
Also known as the Common African House Snake, Sooty House Snake, Black House Snake, Olive House Snake
- Adults average a length of 60-150 cm (24-59 in).
- Juveniles are solid black, while adults are dark brown or gray with faint stripes and spots.
- The scales are smooth and iridescent, appearing white when they reflect light.
- Its body is thinner at the sides.
The Brown House Snake is one of the most common snakes in Sierra Leone.
Its name hints at its habit of visiting homes, which is where most people see this species. However, this nocturnal snake can also thrive in woodlands, savannas, scrublands, and grasslands.
Brown House Snakes seek small mammals and reptiles as a food source. They put their prey into a stranglehold and swallow them whole without chewing. They particularly enjoy mice, so if you’re dealing with an infestation, these snakes might be nearby.
Luckily, the Brown House Snake is non-venomous and timid. It’s likely to flee or curl up tightly into a corner if threatened.
#5. Black-necked Spitting Cobra
- Naja nigricollis
- A. Morph #1: Black or gray body with pink bars on the broad neck and a reddish belly.
- B. Morph #2: Light brown or yellow body with no neck bands.
- C. Morph #3: White and black stripes on the body or solid white with dark eyes.
- Average length is 1-2 m (4-7 ft).
Look for these snakes in Sierra Leone near streams and rivers in savannas.
Black-necked Spitting Cobras are highly adaptable and can be active day or night. This far-ranging snake’s prey includes small vertebrates on the ground or bird eggs in trees.
When confronting possible threats, Black-necked Spitting Cobras rise from the ground and spread their impressive neck hoods. Then, true to their name, they will spit venom to blind their aggressors. Keep your eyes covered because these cobras have amazing aim and can hit their target up to seven meters away!
Black-necked Spitting Cobra bites can cause symptoms such as swelling, blistering, extreme pain, and loss of limb function. In worst-case scenarios, death may occur due to paralysis of the diaphragm.
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 Sierra Leone in these ID Guides:
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Sierra Leone?
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