7 Types of Snakes Found in Yemen! (2024)

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

Types of snakes in Yemen

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 Yemen 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.

7 snakes that live in Yemen:


#1. Jan’s Cliff Racer

  • Platyceps rhodorachis

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

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 Yemen. 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. Brown House Snake

  • Boaedon fuliginosus

Also known as the Common African House Snake, Sooty House Snake, Black House Snake, Olive House Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Yemen.

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.


#3. Puff Adder

  • Bitis arietans

Also known as the African Puff Adder and Common Puff Adder

Common Malawi snakes

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 100-150 cm (39-59 in) long.
  • They are commonly gray to dusty brown, with yellow chevrons on their backs.
  • There are two dark bands on the head, one on the crown and one between the eyes.
  • Male Puff Adders are usually larger than females.

Puff Adders are one of the most dangerous snakes in Yemen.

This ill-tempered native snake roams savannas, grasslands, and – to the great misfortune of inhabitants – densely populated areas. The Puff Adder gets its name from how it inflates itself when threatened. Instead of moving away, it will hiss a warning to intruders before inflating and striking.

Its distinctive chevron pattern in yellow, white, and brown colors allows the Puff Adder to blend into its surroundings. This camouflage is particularly useful for its lifestyle as an ambush predator. Be careful where you wander because this highly-venomous, fast-striking snake seems to come out of nowhere.

The Puff Adder’s venom contains a cytotoxin that can kill a healthy adult human within a day. Their potent venom and tendency to loiter around footpaths make this snake one to avoid. Watch your step!


#4. 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 Yemen.

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!


#5. 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!


#6. Arabian Horned Viper

  • Cerastes gasperettii

Also known as Gasperetti’s Horned Sand Viper, Horned Viper.

Types of snakes in Oman

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These small, stout-bodied snakes can grow 30-60 cm (12-24 in) long.
  • Like most vipers, they have flat triangular heads. In addition, most specimens have horn-like scales above their eyes.
  • Their coloring is tan or gray, perfect for blending into the sand. They have white bellies and a series of dark bars along their backs.

Scorching deserts are home to this devilish-looking snake in Yemen.

The Arabian Horned Viper is a patient predator, lying in wait beneath the sand with only its eyes protruding. As unwary rodents, beetles, or lizards pass by, this viper strikes with deadly accuracy.

Arabian Horned Vipers are most active at night, escaping the heat like other desert creatures. When the sun is high, they seek shelter in abandoned animal burrows. Early in the day, however, you might find one basking in the morning sun.

Listen carefully! These venomous vipers will tell you if you’re straying too close to their territory by hissing loudly. Bite symptoms are serious and include excessive bleeding and convulsions, potentially leading to death. Seek medical assistance at once if you’ve been bitten.


#7. Diadem Snake

  • Spalerosophis diadema

Also known as Royal Snake, Diademed Snake.

Common snakes found in Oman

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 Yemen 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.


Do you want to learn about other animals in Yemen?

If so, check out these guides!


Which of these snakes have you seen before in Yemen?

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  1. While back-backing in (then) North Yemen in 1985, I spent a couple of days in Al-Chocha (near Al-Mocha). While resting on a charpoy close to the water an Arabian Cobra slithered out from the undergrowth towards us, raising its body. We remained very still and it stopped about 5-7meters from us. It appeared more curious than anything else and after a minute or so it slithered away. Definitely an impressive sight and one I remember to this day almost 40 years’ later!