Do you want to learn about the snakes that live in Turkmenistan?
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 Turkmenistan 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.
6 COMMON snakes that live in Turkmenistan:
#1. Central Asian Cobra
- Naja oxiana
Also known as Caspian Cobra, Ladle Snake, Black Cobra, Brown Cobra, Russian Cobra, Oxus Cobra, Trans-Caspian Cobra, and Acellate Cobra.
- These heavy-bodied snakes reach 100-140 cm (39-55 in) long.
- Their snouts are blunt and short with large nostrils.
- They are shades of brown or yellow with dark bands across their throats.
- Juveniles are paler in color.
The Central Asian Cobra is INCREDIBLY VENOMOUS. One bite is potent enough to kill 40 adult humans! Fortunately, it avoids humans and prefers to escape if approached.
Look for this snake in Turkmenistan in rocky foothills, shrublands, and forests far from civilization. Central Asian Cobras are fantastic climbers and capable swimmers. They feed on rodents, amphibians, fish, and birds, then hide in tree hollows to rest.
Central Asian Cobras are terrifyingly aggressive if cornered, especially juveniles. First, they will spread their hoods and sway from side to side while hissing a warning. Then, as a last resort, they will repeatedly strike with astonishing speed. Stay back!
#2. Grass Snake
- Natrix natrix
Also known as Ringed Snake or Water Snake.
- 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 Turkmenistan!
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.
#3. 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 Turkmenistan, 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!
#4. Steppe Ratsnake
- Elaphe dione
Also known as Dione’s Ratsnake.
- 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 Turkmenistan, the Steppe Ratsnake is non-venomous.
#5. 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.
- 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 Turkmenistan.
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.
#6. Steppe Ribbon Racer
- Psammophis lineolatus
Also known as Arrow Snake.
- 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 Turkmenistan?
If so, check out these guides!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Turkmenistan?
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