5 COMMON Types of Snakes Found in Western Sahara! (2023)
Do you want to learn about the types of snakes found in Western Sahara?
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 Western Sahara that it would be impossible to list each one. 🙂
You’ll see that the snakes in Western Sahara 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 Western Sahara:
#1. Forskal Sand Snake
- Psammophis schokari
Also known as Schokari Sand Racer and Afro-Asian Sand Snake
- 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
- 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 Western Sahara, 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. Algerian Whip Snake
- Hemorrhois algirus
Also known as Algerian Grass Snake
- Adults are about 70-140 cm (28-55 in) long.
- They have slender, cylindrical bodies with long tails.
- These snakes are usually beige or green, contrasted by black transverse bars along their body.
- Some individuals have a horseshoe marking or rounded blotches on the head.
Algerian Whip Snakes aren’t long-distance travelers, rarely straying far from their lairs. However, they like having a water supply close by, so riverbanks and ponds are likely spots. In addition, you might find them foraging for food near old buildings, gardens, and open parks.
If you encounter one, there’s no need to worry. Their venom only harms smaller prey like lizards, mice, and songbirds. Notably timid, they prefer escaping over confrontation. Still, they are quick to bite if handled, so try not to get too close!
#4. Sahara Sand Viper
- Cerastes vipera
Also known as Sahara Hornless Viper, Lesser Cerastes, Common Sand Viper, Egyptian Asp, Cleopatra’s Asp, Avicenna Viper
- These are short snakes, measuring only 20-60 cm (8-24 in) long.
- Body coloration is light brown to orange-red.
- Females are considerably larger than males, and the tips of their tails are distinctly black.
- They have broad, triangular heads when viewed from above.
The Sahara Sand Viper is small, thick-bodied, and highly venomous. Look for this snake in the deserts of Western Sahara.
A nocturnal predator, the Sahara Sand Viper lays patiently under cover of sand with only its eyes and snout uncovered. It can wait for hours in preparation for an ambush. Occasionally, it uses the black tip of its tail to lure unfortunate lizards, rodents, and geckos to their death.
Its venom is not fatal to humans, but be careful as bites are serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital. When threatened, the Sahara Sand Viper rubs the sides of its scaled body together, producing a raspy hissing noise. Observe from a distance, as this is an irritable snake!
#5. Western Montpellier Snake
- Malpolon monspessulanus
- Quite large and can grow to be up to 2 meters long (6.5 feet) and weigh 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)!
- Large prominent eyes with a distinct “eyebrow,” which is a ridge above their eye.
- The body is a uniform yellowish, gray, or olive, often followed by a bluish or dark gray “saddle” on the back.
Despite being venomous, these snakes are not considered a threat to humans in Western Sahara.
First, the venom has low toxicity and is not very dangerous. Second, when they feel threatened, Western Montpellier Snakes typically slither away quickly. And if they can’t get away, they first try to scare you away by hissing repeatedly, then raising the front of their body and expanding their neck, just like a cobra!
Western Montpellier Snake Range Map
Lastly, since the fangs are positioned toward the back of the mouth, it’s unlikely any venom would be released during a bite.Only a few cases of venom being injected into a person have ever been reported.
Western Montpellier Snakes adapt to the presence of humans quite well and are common, despite their large size. Look for them in a wide range of habitats. Their main prey includes lizards, so they are often found in dry areas where lizards like to inhabit.
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 Western Sahara in these ID Guides:
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Western Sahara?
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