185 Types of SNAKES Found Across the World! (2024)

There are A LOT of snakes found across the planet!

Common Snakes in United States

And what’s interesting is that they are all incredibly unique and have adapted to fill many habitats and niches.

Today, you’re going to learn about 185 types of snakes that are found all over the world!

Because of the sheer volume, I was not able to include every type of snake. So I tried to pick the most interesting and common species from each continent. ūüôā

This list is organized by where each snake is commonly found. Feel free to skip around!


NORTH AMERICA:


#1. Eastern Copperhead

  • Agkistrodon contortrix

Types of Snakes found in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach lengths between 20 and 37 inches.
  • Stout body, broad head, and elliptical pupils.
  • Coloration varies from pale tan to pinkish-tan with darker, splotchy, hourglass-shaped bands, which are darker at the edgees.

 

Look for these VENOMOUS snakes in the United States in deciduous forests and mixed woodlands, often near rocky outcroppings. You’re more likely to see them active during the day in the spring and fall when the weather is cooler. During the middle of summer, Eastern Copperheads are often nocturnal.

Eastern Copperhead Range Map

copperhead range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

This species is an ambush hunter, meaning that it selects a suitable site and waits to surprise its prey. In addition, copperheads are considered “pit vipers,” which means they have a heat-sensing organ located between their eyes. This adaptation helps these venomous snakes find and judge the size of their prey by being able to sense infrared!

 

Bites from these snakes are rarely fatal.

 

The venom they produce has relatively low potency. In addition, copperheads also frequently employ false strikes, dry bites, and warning bites. Dry bites contain no venom, and warning bites have a relatively small amount of venom.

 

These snakes primarily feed on small rodents, frogs, birds, and large insects such as cicadas. After the initial bite, they will wait for the venom to take effect before consuming their prey whole.

 


#2. Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus adamanteus

Snakes species that live in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 3 to 6 feet long!
  • Coloration is a mixture of browns, yellows, grays, or olive. Look for the distinctive diamonds that run down their back.
  • A black band covers the eyes, which have vertical, cat-like pupils. A pit between the eye and nostril is present on each side, and adults have a distinctive rattle.

 

This species is the longest, heaviest VENOMOUS snake in North America!

 

Some impressive individuals have even grown up to 8 feet long. They prefer relatively dry habitats but can also be spotted around the borders of wetlands and in wet prairies and savannas. The best time to look for these rattlesnakes is during the morning and evening, as this is when they are most active.

Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake Range Mapeastern diamond back rattlesnake

These impressive venomous snakes can strike as far as two-thirds of their body length, meaning a six-foot individual can reach prey four feet away! When attacking, they inject their prey, which includes mice, rabbits, and squirrels, with venom. Once their victim is bitten, they release it and track it to the place it has died to consume it.

 

As you may have guessed, Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnakes typically issue a warning with their rattle when threatened. If you hear this sound, back away and move along, or you risk being bitten. LISTEN BELOW!

 

Interestingly, young snakes don’t have a rattle; as it grows as they get older. Each time an individual sheds their skin, a new section is added (though sections do commonly break off).

 


#3. Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus atrox

Common Snakes species in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically grow to about 4 feet in length.
  • Coloration ranges from brown, gray, brick red, pinkish, and chalky white. Look for the darker diamond-shaped blotches down its back, outlined by white scales.
  • Broad, spade-shaped head with a black mask over the eyes. Elliptical pupils and pits between eyes and nostrils.
  • A rattle on the tail alternates between black and white-colored bands.

 

This famous VENOMOUS snake has a wide range of habitats in North America!

 

You might spot them in deserts, grassy plains, forested areas, coastal prairies, rocky hillsides, and river bottoms. But your best chance to see one might be on a rural road in the evening because of the heat the pavement retains.

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake Range Map

western diamondback rattlesnake

The Western Diamond-backed feeds on small mammals such as squirrels, chipmunks, gophers, prairie dogs, rabbits, mice, and rats. They also consume birds that fly within reach. Like other pit vipers, they ambush their prey and track them while the venom takes effect.

 

When threatened, these snakes typically stand their ground. They rattle and coil, lifting themselves off the ground to prepare to strike.

 

If you hear their characteristic rattle, make sure to leave the area slowly! Due to their specialized fangs and large venom glands, these snakes can deliver a lot of venom in a single bite! Untreated bites have a 10 – 20% mortality rate, so make sure to get to the hospital quickly if struck!

 


#4. Timber Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus horridus

United States Snakes species

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 30 to 60 inches in length.
  • Coloration is variable and generally ranges from yellowish-brown to gray to almost black. Look for dark brown or black crossbands on their back.
  • Heavy-bodied with characteristic rattle on the tail.

 

The Timber Rattlesnake, also known as the Canebrake Rattlesnake, is found in a wide variety of habitats in the United States. Look for these venomous snakes in lowland thickets, high areas around rivers and flood plains, agricultural areas, deciduous forests, and coniferous forests.

Timber Rattlesnake Range Map

timber rattlesnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes are ambush predators, waiting for unsuspecting prey to come within range of their strike. They feed primarily on small mammals but may also consume frogs, birds, and other smaller snakes. Timber Rattlesnakes strike their prey and release them, waiting until their venom has taken effect before eating them.

 

These venomous snakes are potentially the most dangerous species found in North America due to their large size, long fangs, and high venom yield. Luckily, Timber Rattlesnakes have a mild disposition and don’t bite often. They typically give plenty of warning by rattling and posturing.

 

The Timber Rattlesnake played a noteworthy role in U.S. history. Found in the original 13 colonies, it was used as a symbol during the American Revolution. In 1775 it was featured at the center of the “Gadsden Flag.” This yellow flag depicts a coiled and ready-to-strike Timber Rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.”

 


#5. Prairie Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus viridis

Kinds of Snakes in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range between 3.3 and 5 feet in length.
  • Coloration is highly variable and can be greenish-gray, olive green, greenish-brown, light brown, or yellow. All variations have dark blotches on the body that turn into rings near the tail.
  • Broad triangular head, elliptical pupils, heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils, and a tail rattle.

 

These venomous snakes can be found in North America in open prairies, grasslands, semi-desert shrublands, and forested environments. They can even be found at elevations up to 9500 feet!

Prairie Rattlesnake Range Mapprairie rattlesnake range map

The Prairie Rattlesnake hibernates during the winter, often in communal dens. These dens are typically rock crevices, caves, or old mammal burrows. Individual snakes return to the same den each winter and migrate up to seven miles to their hunting grounds in the spring.

 

When they feel threatened, these snakes freeze to use their camouflage to avoid detection. They may also quietly crawl away to cover. If approached, they may coil and rattle their tail as a warning before striking. Their potent venom has both hemotoxic and neurotoxic properties, and although rare, can be fatal to an adult human.

 

Prairie Rattlesnakes are listed on the ICUN Red List as a species of least concern. However, they are considered threatened and declining in parts of their range. In addition, they have faced pressure from habitat fragmentation and hunting.

 


#6. Eastern Massasauga

  • Sistrurus catenatus

Types of Snakes that live in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically around 2 feet in length.
  • Coloration is gray or light brown with darker chocolate-brown blotches on the back and smaller ones on the sides, which feature light edges.
  • Thick body, vertical pupils, heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils, and heart-shaped head.
  • Being rattlesnakes, look for the rattle at the end of their tail.

 

These small venomous snakes live primarily in wet habitats in the middle of North America.

 

The name “Massasauga” actually comes from the Chippewa language and means “great river mouth” which describes their habitat. Look for them in floodplain forests, shrub swamps, low areas along rivers and lakes, wet prairies, moist grasslands, bogs, and marshes. During the summer, they often migrate to drier regions adjacent to these habitats.

Eastern Massasauga Range Map

 

Unlike other rattlesnakes, the Eastern Massasauga hibernates alone. They frequently hibernate in crayfish burrows but may also use small mammal burrows or spaces under rotting logs or tree roots. Dens must be below the frost line, or they risk freezing to death!

 

These snakes have cytotoxic venom (poisonous to cells), which destroys tissue, disrupts blood flow, and prevents clotting. But these snakes are secretive, shy, and avoid humans when possible. The only times they bite seem to be when handled or accidentally stepped on!

 

This venomous snake is listed as threatened, endangered, or a species of concern in all of its range. Historically, these snakes have faced pressure from hunting, and many states had bounties and roundups for them. Today they are still often killed out of fear AND face diminishing wetland habitats.


#7. Northern Watersnake

  • Nerodia sipedon sipedon

Types of Water Snakes that live in ohio

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 55 inches in length.
  • Coloration is pale grey to dark brown with reddish-brown to black bands.
  • Large adults become darker with age and appear almost plain black or dark brown.
  • Females tend to be larger than males, and coloration is most vivid in juvenile and wet individuals.

 

This species is the most common watersnake in North America!

 

Northern Watersnakes prefer slow-moving or standing water like ponds, lakes, vernal pools, marshes, and slow-moving rivers and streams. They’re most often seen basking on rocks or logs in or near the water.

 

Northern Watersnake Range Map (Yellow area below)

common watersnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes primarily feed on fish and amphibians by hunting along the water’s edge and shallow water during the day. They grab their prey and quickly swallow while it’s still alive!

 

When disturbed, Northern Watersnakes flee into the water to escape. However, if grabbed or captured, they’re quick to defend themselves. They will release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tale, flatten their body, and strike the attacker.

 

While non-venomous, they can deliver a painful bite!

 

Their saliva contains a mild anticoagulant that can cause bites to bleed, making the injury appear worse. These important defense mechanisms help water snakes survive predators such as raccoons, snapping turtles, foxes, opossums, other snakes, and birds of prey.

 


#8. Plain-bellied Watersnake

  • Nerodia erythrogaster

Water Snakes species that live in United States


Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults have thick bodies and range from 24 to 40 inches in length.
  • Solid coloration of gray, brown, olive, or black.
  • As the name suggests, they have a plain unmarked underside varying from red to yellow.
  • Also called Redbelly, Yellowbelly, Copperbelly, or Blotched Watersnake.

 

The Plain-bellied Watersnake can be found near various water sources, including rivers, floodplains, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. This species spends an unusual amount of time on land compared with other water snakes found in North America. Especially during hot, humid weather, they can be found in woodlands quite far from a water source.

 

Plain-bellied Watersnake Range Map

plain bellied watersnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

They feed on BOTH aquatic and terrestrial prey, including crayfish, fish, salamanders, frogs, and other amphibians. Another unusual feature of this species is that they will sit and wait to ambush their prey, especially on land. Almost all other water snakes actively hunt and chase their victims!

 

If captured, they release a foul-smelling musk and are not afraid to bite! Plain-bellied Watersnakes are eaten by largemouth bass, egrets, hawks, and sometimes other larger snakes.

 


#9. Queen Snake

  • Regina septemvittata

Common Water Snakes species in United States

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are generally around 24 inches in length though individuals up to 36 inches have been reported.
  • Coloration is drab brown or olive green with two lighter stripes down the sides.
  • The underside is yellow or tan, with four dark stripes that run the length of their belly.¬†No other similar species has this feature!

 

Queen Snakes prefer moving water and are generally found near streams and rivers with rocky bottoms. They have highly permeable skin, making them susceptible to evaporative water loss. As you can imagine, they are rarely spotted far from water.

Queen Snake Range Map

queensnake range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

Queen Snakes are considered less secretive than many other snakes in North America.

 

They are primarily diurnal and can be spotted basking on rocks, overhanging branches, or vegetation near the water’s edge. They often take refuge under rocks along the edges of streams. If you’re lucky, you may see them swimming.

 

Queen Snakes are specialist predators that primarily feed on crayfish. They almost exclusively prey on newly molted crayfish, which have soft bodies and can’t use their pinchers yet. They hunt by probing under rocks and other submerged objects for crayfish.

 


#10. Northern Cottonmouth

  • Agkistrodon piscivorus

venomous snake species that are common

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 26 to 35 inches in length. Females are typically smaller than males.
  • Most individuals are dark gray to black with a broad head, heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils, elliptical pupils, and a blunt snout.
  • Some individuals have a brown, gray, tan, or blackish coloration.
  • Also commonly called Water Moccasins, Black Moccasins, or Gapers.

 

Cottonmouths are the ONLY venomous water snake in North America.

 

Be on the lookout for these snakes near swamps, marshes, ponds, and slow-moving streams and rivers, as well as flooded fields and drainage ditches. But they aren’t limited to just aquatic habitats. Cottonmouths can also be found in palmetto thickets, pine forests, dune areas, and prairies.

Northern Cottonmouth Range Map

cottonmouth range map

Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These water snakes have several defensive tactics to warn potential threats to stay away! They often vibrate their tail in the leaf litter, pull their heads up and back, and then open their mouth to hiss and expose a white interior. This particular display is what earned them the name “cottonmouth.

 

Since they are venomous, please use extra caution if you come across an unknown water snake. Quite a few species look similar, especially if you just get a glance as one moves across the water.

 

Luckily, receiving a bite from a Northern Cottonmouth is rare. But when it does happen, it’s very serious as their venom destroys tissue. It is rare to die from their bite, but it does cause swelling and bruising and can leave scars.

 


#11. Southern Watersnake

  • Nerodia fasciata

southern watersnake (banded)

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is typically gray, greenish-gray, or brown with darker cross bands. However, some individuals may be so dark that the bands are barely distinguishable.
  • Flat heads and heavy bodies.
  • Also commonly called the Banded Watersnake.

 

The Southern Watersnake is found in the southern United States near most freshwater sources within their range. Look for them everywhere, including lakes, ponds, rivers, marshes, swamps, wetlands, and streams. They’re often spotted on branches overhanging the water, sunning themselves.

Southern Watersnake Range Map

southern or banded watersnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

 

These snakes are primarily nocturnal and spend much of their time hunting along the shoreline for frogs and small fish. Like other watersnakes, they quickly grab their prey and swallow it alive.

 

Southern Watersnakes are docile and non-venomous. But when they are captured or grabbed, they will flatten their heads, release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the tip of their tail, and may bite. Unfortunately, they are sometimes killed because they are mistaken for the venomous cottonmouth.

 


#12. Diamond-backed Watersnake

  • Nerodia rhombifer

diamondbacked watersnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 30 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is brown, dark brown, yellowish, or olive green. Look for a dark chain-like pattern down the back.
  • Thick body with a yellow belly that has dark half-moons.

 

The Diamond-backed Watersnake can be found in North America in a variety of freshwater habitats. They generally prefer slow-moving bodies of water with overhanging vegetation such as ponds, swamps, slow rivers, and streams.

 

These snakes are common in their range and can be spotted on overhanging branches looking for prey, which mainly include frogs and fish. Once they grab their target, they haul it to shore and wait for it to die before consuming it. This behavior is unique as most other water snakes consume their prey alive.

Diamond-backed Watersnake Range Map

diamond backed watersnake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

 

When disturbed, Diamond-backed Watersnakes will quickly flee into the water and dive below the surface to swim away. If captured, they will bite and release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tail.

 

They are relatively common and aren’t considered a threatened species. Unfortunately, they are sometimes killed out of ignorance. People often mistake them for venomous cottonmouths and rattlesnakes.

 


#13. Graham’s Crayfish Snake

  • Regina grahamii

grahams crayfish snake range map

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 18 to 28 inches in length.
  • Coloration is a dull brown, yellowish-brown, or gray.
  • Look for yellowish-tan stripes down the sides and sometimes a faint tan stripe down the middle of the back.

 

This water snake is rather reclusive and hard to find.

 

Look for Graham’s Crayfish Snakes in slow-moving bodies of water such as ponds, prairie streams, marshes, and roadside ditches. They prefer areas with abundant vegetation, rocks, logs, and other debris along the water’s edge, which allows them to hide from predators. They are commonly seen basking on branches overhanging the water.

Graham’s Crayfish Snake Range Map

graham's crayfish snake range map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

 

As the name suggests, Graham’s Crayfish Snakes primarily feed on crayfish. They hunt exclusively for individuals that recently molted and temporarily have soft bodies. However, they’ll also prey on fish and amphibians, including tadpoles and frogs.

 

Like many other water snakes, this species is often mistaken for cottonmouths and killed, even though they are MUCH smaller.


#14. Eastern Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

eastern garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 18 to 26 inches in length.
  • Coloration varies and can be mixtures of green, brown, or black. Look for a distinct yellow or whitish stripe down the center of their back.
  • Some individuals may exhibit a checkered body pattern.
  • Subspecies of the Common Garter Snake.

 

Eastern Garter Snakes are common and easy to locate in North America!

 

In fact, they are typically the snake species that people come across the most. They’re well-adapted to living around people and can often be found in city parks, farmland, cemeteries, and suburban lawns and gardens. Though not required, they prefer grassy environments near freshwater sources such as ponds, lakes, ditches, and streams.

eastern garter snake range map

Look for these snakes basking in the sun in grassy areas near cover.

 

Eastern Garter Snakes protect themselves when they are cornered or feel threatened. For example, if you capture or continually disturb one, it will defecate and release a foul-smelling musk from its glands. It’s also common for them to bite as a last resort!

 

The Eastern Garter Snake most commonly preys on toads, frogs, slugs, salamanders, fish, and worms. However, they are very opportunistic and will eat other insects and small animals they can overpower. They’re active during both the day and night, depending on the temperature.

 


#15. Red-sided Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis proximus parietalis

red sided garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Normally dark green to black, but color varies.
  • Three yellow stripes; one down the back and one down each side.
  • As the name suggests, red or orange bars run along their sides between the yellow stripes.
  • Subspecies of the Common Garter Snake.

 

Like other garter snakes, they are habitat generalists. Look for them everywhere, including forests, shrublands, wetlands, fields, and rocky areas. Their favorite foods include frogs, earthworms, and leeches! YUM! ūüôā

red-sided garter snake range map

 

In some areas, after emerging from hibernation, there are not enough females for all the males. In these cases, “mating frenzies” occur, and dozens and dozens of these snakes can be found together.

 

To survive colder months, Red-sided Garter Snakes have to hibernate BELOW the frost line. Depending on the area they are located in, it can be hard to find suitable locations. So the few adequate hibernation dens can shelter hundreds, even thousands, of snakes! To see an example, watch the video below:

 


#16. Western Ribbon Snake

  • Thamnophis proximus

western ribbon snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 17 to 50 inches in length. A slender snake with a long tail!
  • Coloration is blackish, brown, or olive with three light-colored stripes; one down the back and one down each side.
  • The sides and top of the head are dark, and the upper lip is whitish.

 

Did you see a slender snake in the middle of North America with a long tail?

 

If so, it was probably a Western Ribbon Snake! This semi-aquatic species is rarely found far from a water source. They typically occupy brush-heavy areas around streams, lakes, ponds, and other water bodies. You may also spot them basking on rocks, flat vegetation, and dry sandy areas near water.

 

western ribbon snake range map

 

The Western Ribbon Snake has an incredible, unique hunting technique. As they move over land, they make quick, light thrusts of their head and upper body in different directions in sequences of three. It’s similar to a strike, but with their mouth closed. This action disturbs resting frogs, which alerts the garter snake to their location. From there, this snake uses its superior speed to catch its prey.

 

When they feel threatened, they flee into the water or hide in thick brush. Their coloration provides superb camouflage in dense, brushier areas. If grabbed, Western Ribbon Snakes rarely bite but will thrash around, defecate, and release musk from their anal glands. This species can also shed its tail to escape, but unfortunately, it doesn’t regenerate like some lizard species.

 


#17. Eastern Ribbon Snake

  • Thamnophis saurita

eastern or common ribbon snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 18 to 26 inches in length. A slender snake with a long tail!
  • Coloration is brown to nearly black with three bright yellow to cream stripes; one down the back and one down each side.
  • Snout and entire head are brownish, lips and underneath head are white.

 

Did you see a slender snake in eastern North America with a long tail?

 

If so, it was probably an Eastern Ribbon Snake!

eastern ribbon snake range map

This species is semi-aquatic and RARELY found far from a source of water. Look for them in a wide variety of habitats, including marshes, grassy floodplains, streams, ditches with grass, wet areas in meadows, and woodlands adjacent to wetlands. Ribbon snakes are even found in suburban areas that match these conditions.

 

You might spot these snakes basking on branches of trees, bushes, or grasses overhanging the water. They typically hunt in the water and prey on amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.

 

When disturbed, these snakes quickly flee into grass or brushy areas. If caught, they are not aggressive and rarely bite. But you can expect them to defecate and spray musk onto your hands. In the wild, Eastern Ribbon Snakes rely on blending into their surroundings to escape predators.

 


#18. Terrestrial Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis elegans

wandering western terrestrial gartersnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 18 to 41 inches in length.
  • Most adults have three yellow, light orange, or white stripes; one down their back and two down their sides.
  • Coloration is widely variable. Individuals may be brownish or greenish. Some have red and black spots between the stripes, and occasionally all black individuals are found.

 

This snake can be difficult to identify!

 

Even trained herpetologists have issues! Its coloration varies widely, and there are believed to be 6 subspecies, although scientists still debate this.

 

Terrestrial Garter Snakes occupy various habitats, including both grasslands and forests. They¬†can even be found in mountainous areas up to 13,000 feet above sea level. As the name suggests, they’re primarily found on land. But interestingly, these garter snakes are great swimmers!

terrestrial garter range map

 

This species is the only garter snake in North America with a tendency to constrict prey! Most garter snakes grab their prey quickly and just swallow, rubbing their prey against the ground if necessary.

 

Terrestrial Garter Snakes aren’t aggressive or dangerous, but they do possess mildly venomous saliva! It can cause a muscle infection or even kill some muscle tissue. Most bites on humans just cause pain and some swelling.

 


#19. Plains Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis radix

plains garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults average 36 inches in length.
  • Coloration is gray-green with a distinctive orange stripe down the back and a greenish-yellow stripe down each side.
  • Distinct light yellow spots on the very top of the head!

 

Plains Garter Snakes are almost always found in North America in prairies and grasslands near freshwater sources. They have a fairly large population and adapt well to human-modified landscapes. You may spot them near abandoned buildings, trash heaps, or vacant lots.

plains garter snake range map

 

This species is considered one of the most cold-tolerant of all snakes! In fact, they will even come out of hibernation on warmer winter days.

 

Plains Garter Snakes feed primarily on earthworms, slugs, and small amphibians. However, they have also been observed preying on small mammals and birds, including the Eastern Meadowlark and Bank Swallow.

 


#20. Valley Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi

valley garter snake

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range from 18 to 55 inches in length.
  • Coloration is brown to black with three yellow stripes: one down the back and one down each side.
  • Pronounced red bars between the yellow stripes. Yellowish chin, jaw, and belly, and a black head, which often has red sides.
  • Subspecies of the Common Garter Snake.

 

Valley Garter Snakes are found in various habitats, including forests, wetlands, scrublands, fields, shorelines, and rocky areas. They’re also well adapted to humans and are often found in urban areas.

 

Look for these snakes under rocks, logs, and other objects, which they use for cover and thermoregulation. During the winter, they hibernate, often communally, below the frost line. They will use a variety of underground cavities, including mammal and crayfish burrows, rock crevices, ant mounds, and manmade spaces such as foundations and cisterns.

valley garter snake range map

 

When disturbed, Valley Garter Snakes try to escape into the water and are excellent swimmers. If captured, be prepared for them to release musk and feces onto your hands! They may also strike, but only if they feel extremely threatened.

 

The Valley Garter Snake is considered a species of low risk. They are quite common and adapt well to human-modified habitats. However, they are frequently killed on roadways and are sometimes killed out of fear.

 


#21. Black-necked Garter Snake

  • Thamnophis cyrtopsis

black necked garter snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Western Black-necked Garter Snakes are dark olive with an orange-yellow stripe down the back and a yellow to white stripe down each side. It can be up to 42 inches long.
  • Eastern Black-necked Garter Snakes are smaller and only grow up to 20 inches in length. They have a checkered pattern of black and yellow on their body, between their three stripes.
  • Both subspecies have a gray head, contrasting strongly with the body. In addition, there is a dark blotch on each side of the neck.

 

This species is found in many habitats, including desert scrub, plains, arid grasslands, and pine-oak woodlands. They’re almost always associated with water sources such as streams, ci√©negas, and cattle tanks.

black necked garter snake range map

There are two subspecies of this snake: the Western AND Eastern. They look different (see photo above), but they also behave uniquely. The Western subspecies (Thamnophis cyrtopsis cyrtopsis) are water snakes and most often found in the water. The Eastern (Thamnophis cyrtopsis ocellatus) subspecies prefers to live on DRY LAND very close to water.

 

The Black-necked Garter Snake’s preferred prey is frogs, toads, and tadpoles, including poisonous species like the Sonoran Desert Toad. However, they have been known to feed on a wide range of other prey, including earthworms, skinks, salamanders, crustaceans, and birds.

 


#22. Eastern Milksnake

  • Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum

eastern milksnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 24 to 36 inches in length.
  • Coloration is tan or gray with 3 to 5 rows of reddish-brown, black-edged blotches.
  • Look for a gray or tan Y- or V-shaped mark near the rear of the head.

 

Eastern Milksnakes get their unique name from an old myth that they milked cows since they’re commonly found in barns! Obviously, this isn’t true. Instead, their presence inside barns is likely due to the high number of mice, some of their favorite prey.

Eastern Milksnake Range Map

eastern milksnake range map
Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

A member of the kingsnake family, Eastern Milksnakes occupy a wide variety of habitats in North America, including fields, woodlands, agricultural areas, and rocky outcrops. These beautiful snakes are somewhat secretive and spend much of their time beneath the ground. You may be able to find one underneath rocks, logs, boards, and other debris.

 

The Eastern Milksnake prefers to feed on small mammals such as mice and shrews. However, they’ll also consume various types of prey, including birds and bird eggs, lizards, snakes, amphibians, fish, earthworms, slugs, insects, and carrion.

 

Like other individuals in the kingsnake family, they will prey on venomous pit vipers. So how do they combat the venom? Interestingly, their blood contains venom-neutralizing properties!

 


#23. Prairie Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis calligaster calligaster

prairie kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 30 to 40 inches in length.
  • Coloration is typically gray or light brown with darker gray, brown, or reddish-brown blotching, sometimes outlined in black, down the length of their body that fades with age.
  • They have a pale or yellowish underside, and their head is indistinct from their body.
  • The Prairie Kingsnake is a subspecies of the Yellow-bellied Kingsnake.

 

Look for Prairie Kingsnakes in open habitats, such as fields, farmland, rocky hillsides, and open woodlands. They spend most of their time underground and are found under rocks, logs, and old animal burrows throughout their active period and winter hibernation.

 

Prairie Kingsnake Range Map

prairie and northern mole kingsnake
Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes feed on a wide variety of prey, like mice, lizards, other snakes (including other Prairie Kingsnakes), insects, birds, bird eggs, and amphibians. They constrict their prey, coiling around and suffocating it before consuming.

 

If disturbed, the Prairie Kingsnake may try to warn perceived threats by mimicking a rattlesnake. They accomplish this mimicry by shaking the tip of their tail in dry leaf litter. However, these snakes are non-venomous and don’t typically bite, but they will release a foul-smelling musk if grabbed!

 

This species is considered of least concern and doesn’t seem to face any significant conservation risks. However, they’re sometimes run over when crossing roads or killed because they are mistaken for being venomous. Like many other kingsnakes, this species is sometimes kept as pets.

 


#24. Eastern Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis getula

eastern kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 36 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is shiny black with white or yellow chain-link bands, but some individuals may be entirely black.
  • Stout head and small beady eyes.
  • Also called the Common Kingsnake.

 

Eastern Kingsnakes thrive in various habitats in North America!

 

Look for them in hardwood and pine forests, bottomlands, swamps, and wetlands, as well as farmlands and suburban areas. They are a terrestrial species but are often associated with water preferring riparian habitats along stream banks or marsh edges.

 

Eastern Kingsnake Range Map

eastern kingsnake range map
Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

A very secretive species, the Eastern Kingsnake is frequently spotted when moving logs, boards, tin, or other objects they use for cover. They’re constrictors and feed on various types of prey, including rodents, lizards, birds, and turtle eggs. Incredibly, they’re immune to venom from pit-vipers and regularly feed on smaller venomous snakes like copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes!

 

If disturbed, these snakes can mimic rattlesnakes by shaking their tails in dry leaves. They may also release a foul-smelling musk and bite if captured.

 

Unfortunately, the Eastern Kingsnake has seen dramatic declines in many areas. This is most likely due to habitat loss and degradation, imported fire ants, and disease.

 


#25. Speckled Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis holbrooki

speckled kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically 36 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is shiny black with small yellow, yellowish-green, or white specks, one in the center of almost every dorsal scale though the pattern of the speckles varies by individual.
  • The underside is white or yellow with clusters of black checkers and is sometimes more black than white.

 

The Speckled Kingsnake’s unique appearance resulted in the nickname “salt and pepper snake.” Look for them in fields along the forest’s edge, prairies, grasslands, stream valleys, pastures, and roadside ditches.

Speckled Kingsnake Range Map

speckled kingsnake range map
Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes are rather secretive and hard to find in North America!

 

In addition, they’re primarily nocturnal. As a result, they’re most frequently spotted crossing roadways in the morning or evening.

 

Like other kingsnakes, this species is a constrictor, which means they use their coils to asphyxiate their prey before consuming it. They feed on a wide variety of prey, including rodents, birds, bird eggs, reptiles, reptile eggs, frogs, and other snakes, including venomous species. SEE THE VIDEO BELOW! ūüôā

 

Speckled Kingsnakes are generally quite docile and are often kept as pets. However, if disturbed, they may shake their tail, release a foul-smelling musk, and strike if grabbed. Sadly this species is considered threatened in parts of their range.

 


#26. Eastern Black Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis nigra

 

eastern black kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 35 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is black with white, cream, or yellow speckles, larger and more numerous on the sides.
  • Stocky body, head indistinct from the neck, and a yellow or cream underside with black checkering.
  • Also frequently referred to as just “Black Kingsnake.”

 

Eastern Black Kingsnakes occupy various habitats.

 

They can be found in forests, agricultural lands, thick brush around streams and swamps, floodplain and wetland edges, and even suburban areas!

Eastern Black Kingsnake Range Map

eastern black kingsnake range map
Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These snakes are very secretive, and they often seek shelter under logs and other debris. They’re primarily active during the daytime but are most active in the morning during the summer.

 

Being constrictors, Eastern Black Kingsnakes use their strong coils to asphyxiate their prey. They frequently prey on lizards, rodents, birds, turtle eggs, and other snakes, including venomous pit vipers.

 

Though they’re non-venomous, these snakes may shake their tails if disturbed. In dry leaves, the noise sounds like a rattlesnake! If handled, they may also release a foul-smelling musk and strike.

 


#27. Scarlet Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis elapsoides

scarlet king snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 14 to 20 inches in length.
  • Coloration is alternating red, black, and yellow rings encircling the body; the yellow and red rings never touch.
  • Small head, barely distinct from the neck and a red snout.

 

Scarlet Kingsnakes are found in pine flat woods, pine-oak forests, fields, agricultural areas, and occasionally urban environments. But they’re hard to see because they’re secretive and mostly stay underground. Look for them under logs, rocks, boards, and other debris. However, they’re also excellent climbers and are sometimes spotted on trees and buildings.

Scarlet Kingsnake Range Map

scarlet kingsnake range map
Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

These vividly colored, non-venomous snakes are sometimes mistaken for venomous coral snakes. In fact, they were used as stand-ins for venomous snakes in the movies “Snakes on a Plane” and “The Mummy Returns.”

 

So how do you tell the difference between a dangerous coral snake and a harmless Scarlet Kingsnake in the United States?

coral snake vs scarlet snake

Just remember this rhyme, and you’ll never have to worry! “If red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow; if red touches black, you’re all right, Jack.”

 

These snakes are generally non-aggressive. However, they may vibrate their tail if disturbed, producing a buzzing sound when in leaf litter. If grabbed, they may strike and release a foul-smelling musk.

 


#28. Western Milksnake

  • Lampropeltis gentilis

 

western milksnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 15 to 34 inches in length.
  • Coloration is whitish, black, and reddish or orange bands, with the reddish-orange bands being bordered by black.
  • The snout is blackish and sometimes features white flecking, and the underside may have extensions of the bands or be more whitish.

 

Western Milksnakes are found in open sagebrush, grasslands and are occasionally seen in suburban areas. They’re a secretive species frequently found under objects like rocks, logs, boards, and other debris.

Western Milksnake Range Map

western milksnake range map
Credit – Virginia Herpetological Society

 

Because of their coloration, they are often confused with venomous coral snakes. But luckily, there’s an easy way to tell the difference. Just remember this rhyme:

 

“If red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow; if red touches black, you’re all right, Jack.”

coral snake vs western milksnake

 

These snakes aren’t picky about food and feed on small mammals, birds, bird eggs, other snakes, lizards, reptile eggs, and occasionally, worms and insects. They actively hunt down their prey and use their coils to constrict the life out of them.

 

Though they’re usually docile when handled, Western Milksnakes do exhibit strong defensive behaviors when disturbed. You can expect them to vibrate their tail (like a rattlesnake), and they may even rear up and strike!

 


#29. California Kingsnake

  • Lampropeltis californiae

california kingsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 36 to 48 inches in length.
  • Most individuals are black or brown, with whitish bands running down their bodies.

 

These snakes are widespread across many types of habitats in western North America.

 

Look for them in woodlands, grasslands, deserts, marshes, and even suburban areas! Most of the year, these California Kingsnakes are found out during the day, except during cold weather when they retreat underground to enter a hibernation-like state called brumation.

California Kingsnake Range Map

california kingsnake range map

Do you know how kingsnakes got the name “king?”

 

It refers to their ability to hunt down and eat other snakes! Incredibly, California Kingsnakes will even go after venomous rattlesnakes.

 

This species has the incredible adaptation to constrict its prey. In fact, California Kingsnakes have the strongest squeeze when compared to the size of their body! It’s thought they evolved this trait since their main diet consists of other reptiles, which don’t require as much oxygen as mammals.

 


#30. Gray Ratsnake

  • Pantherophis spiloides

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 42 to 72 inches in length though individuals up to 101 inches have been recorded.
  • Coloration varies. Most Gray Ratsnakes are typically completely black.
  • There may be red, white, or yellow flecking on the scales.

 

Look for Gray Ratsnakes in trees!

 

They are excellent climbers and often hunt and spend time in trees. Growing up, I used to see them all the time in a large walnut tree in our backyard! They occupy various habitats, including pinelands, stream banks, swamps, marshes, prairies, and agricultural areas.

gray rat snake range map

They’re also spotted near barns and old buildings since these places provide them access to their favorite food, which is rodents.

 

Like other rat snakes, this species is an active hunter and a powerful constrictor. Adults typically feed on small mammals, birds, bird eggs, lizards, and frogs. They suffocate larger prey using their strong coils but often swallow smaller prey immediately.

 

If disturbed, Gray Ratsnakes either flee for cover or remain motionless in an attempt to avoid detection using their excellent camouflage. They may also vibrate their tail, producing a rattlesnake-like sound in dry leaf litter. Finally, when they feel cornered or are grabbed, these snakes will strike their attacker as a last resort.

 


#31. Eastern Ratsnake

  • Pantherophis alleghaniensis

eastern ratsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 42 to 72 inches in length.
  • Coloration is variable and ranges from plain black to dusky gray, brown, or yellow with black or brown stripes. Juveniles may have strong black to dark brown blotches.
  • Stout body with a relatively long and narrow head.

 

These rat snakes are found in many habitats in eastern North America.

 

Look for them in agricultural areas, forests, and swampy woodlands. Make sure you look UP, as Eastern Ratsnakes are arboreal and are often found in trees!

eastern rat snake range map

They’re also often seen in and around barns and old buildings because of the abundance of rodents, which they kill using constriction. Birds and eggs are also on the menu, with the latter being swallowed whole and broken once in their throat!

 

Eastern Ratsnakes are active during the day and night, especially just after sunset. They travel considerable distances and are often killed on roadways.

 

If disturbed, Eastern Ratsnakes will first try to slither away. When they feel cornered, the next step is they’ll flatten their heads and lift the front of their bodies off the ground in an S-shape to appear more threatening and increase their striking range. They may also hiss from this position and bite if grabbed.

 


#32. Red Cornsnake

  • Pantherophis guttatus

red cornsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 24 to 72 inches in length.
  • Coloration is orangish-brown with black-bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches and a spear-shaped pattern on the head and neck.
  • The underside usually has a black and white checkerboard pattern which may have some orange.

 

Cornsnakes got their name because of their frequent presence near corn storage areas due to an abundance of rodents that also hang out at these locations. However, some sources maintain that they were named for the pattern on their underside, which sometimes looks like kernels of bi-color corn.

red cornsnake range map
Credit: Virginia Herpetological Society

Red Cornsnakes occupy various habitats, including overgrown fields, pinelands, swamps, and agricultural areas. They are sometimes found in suburban areas near other favorable habitats. Make sure you don’t only look on the ground, as they’re known to ascend trees, cliffs, and other elevated surfaces.

 

Red Cornsnakes prey on rodents, lizards, frogs, and birds and their eggs. These snakes are constrictors that squeeze and asphyxiate larger prey, but small prey may be swallowed whole without constriction.

 

These snakes are generally quite docile and are the second most popular pet snake (behind Ball Pythons) worldwide. However, if disturbed in the wild, they may vibrate their tail and lift the front of their body into an S-shape to appear more threatening. If grabbed or pinned, it’s not out of the question for them to bite their attacker, but they typically calm down quickly when being held.

 


#33. Great Plains Ratsnake

  • Pantherophis emoryi

great plains rat snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 36 to 60 inches long.
  • Coloration is light gray or tan with dark gray, brown, or green-gray blotching down its back.
  • A spear-shaped mark on the head and stripes on the sides of the head that meet to form a point between the eyes.
  • Also sometimes called Emory’s Ratsnake, Brown Ratsnake, or Chicken Snake.

 

Great Plains Ratsnakes are found in open woodlands, rocky, wooded hillsides, semi-arid regions, and agricultural areas. Being nocturnal, they are hard to find and spend most of their days in old mammal burrows or under rocks, logs, boards, and other cover objects.

great plains rat snake range map

This species prefers to prey on rodents but may also consume small birds, lizards, and frogs. They are also known to eat bats and are sometimes found near caves hunting them! Like other rat snakes, they’re constrictors and use their strong coils to suffocate prey before eating it.

 

When disturbed, the Great Plains Ratsnake curls up and vibrate its tail which sounds remarkably like a rattlesnake when done in dry leaf litter. Though they’re considered non-aggressive and docile, they may strike if grabbed.

 


#34. Western Ratsnake

  • Pantherophis obsoletus

western rat snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 42 to 72 inches in length though individuals up to 101 inches have been recorded.
  • Coloration varies. Adults can be completely black to gray to pale brown to yellowish with black, brown, or gray blotches.
  • Also commonly called the Texas Ratsnake!

 

Western Ratsnakes occupy various habitats, including agricultural areas, dense woodlands, forested river valleys, and rocky hillsides. They’re excellent climbers and are found often in trees and will frequently use cavities in trees for shelter.

western rat snake range map

Western Ratsnakes are active hunters and constrictors preying on small mammals, nestling birds, bird eggs, tree frogs, and lizards. They suffocate larger prey with their coils but often swallow smaller prey without constriction.

 

When disturbed, these snakes often freeze to avoid detection. If harassed, they’ll raise their heads and vibrate their tails to mimic a rattlesnake. And if they continue to be provoked or grabbed, they’ll strike their attacker as a last defense.

 


#35. Scarletsnake

  • Cemophora coccinea

scarlet snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 14 to 26 inches in length.
  • Coloration is red with light gray, yellowish, or white bands with black borders.
  • Small, pointed red head with a light-colored band behind the eyes and light gray or white underside.

 

These beautiful snakes are commonly found in pine flat woods, dry prairies, hardwood hammocks, sandhills, and open woodlands. They are burrowers and prefer areas with loose, sandy soil, leaf litter, logs, and other material they can easily hide beneath.

scarlet snake range map

There are THREE subspecies of Scarletsnake, and they all look similar. You would need to be a trained herpetologist to tell the difference!

 

The Scarletsnake is non-venomous, but it’s sometimes confused with venomous coral snakes. An easy way to tell the difference between the two species is to remember the rhyme, “Red touches yellow, kill a fellow; red touches black, a friend of Jack.”

 

Incredibly docile, these snakes rarely bite even when picked up by humans. But even though they’re common throughout their range, it’s rare to actually see one. Scarletsnakes are very secretive and spend most of their time hidden.

 


#36. Rough Greensnake

  • Opheodrys aestivus

rough green snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 22 to 36 inches in length.
  • Coloration is bright green with a yellow or whitish underside.
  • SLENDER bodies and large eyes.
  • Also commonly called a Grass Snake.

Their bright green color makes for excellent camouflage against the foliage. Rough Greensnakes are highly arboreal and spend much of their time climbing in low vegetation. Look for them coiled and sleeping in shrubs, tangles of vines, or other thick vegetation, especially if it’s near water.

rough green snake range map

When disturbed, Rough Greensnakes typically freeze and rely on their camouflage. They’re nonvenomous and generally very docile, seldom striking even if grabbed.

 

The Rough Greensnake is fairly common, but they do face several threats. They’re one of the most exploited pet snake species in North America. They’re also often killed on roads and face habitat loss, especially when small waterways are cleared of vegetation in developing areas.

 


#37. Smooth Greensnake

  • Opheodrys vernalis

smooth green snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are SLENDER and typically range from 14 to 20 inches in length.
  • Coloration is uniformly light green with a yellow or white underside and a red tongue with a black tip.
  • Juveniles may be olive-green, blue-gray, or even brown until they shed their skin for the first time.

 

Also called Grass Snakes, these bright green snakes can be found in marshes, meadows, pastures, savannas, open woods, and along stream and lake edges. They prefer moist areas near permanent water sources.

smooth greensnake range map

They prey almost exclusively on insects and spiders and don’t use constriction; instead quickly striking and swallowing their prey alive.

 

Smooth Greensnakes hibernate during the winter, seeking shelter in old mammal burrows and abandoned anthills. They often hibernate communally with other small snakes. They emerge in the spring, typically in April, and are active until October.

 

Smooth Greensnakes rely on their EXCELLENT camouflage to avoid predators. They’re also agile and can flee quickly if they must.

 


#38. Bullsnake

  • Pituophis catenifer sayi

bull snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are large and typically range from 4 to 6 feet in length.
  • Coloration is yellow, beige, or light brown with large brown, black, or reddish blotching on the back and three sets of small blotches on the sides.
  • Blotches may appear like bands near the end of the tail, and the underside is yellowish with black spots.

 

Bullsnakes are often seen in North America in areas with high rodent populations.

 

So they’re common in places like prairie dog towns. But you can also find them in¬†fields, grasslands, forest edges, savannas, and brushlands with sandy soils.

bullsnake range map

Bullsnakes are fast and can actively pursue prey in loose soil. They even use their prominent rostral (nose scale) to dig! Once they’ve captured their prey, they use their strong body to coil around and constrict their prey.

 

Despite being nonvenomous, these snakes act aggressively toward any threats. They often lift the front half of their body, hiss, and lunge at their attacker until they feel they can retreat.

 

Interestingly, their hissing can sound like a rattle! (see below!)

 

To accomplish this, the snake forces air through an extension of the windpipe, which has a piece of cartilage called an epiglottis that flaps back and forth, sounding very similar to a rattlesnake.

 


#39. Pinesnake

  • Pituophis melanoleucus

pine snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 48 to 90 inches in length.
  • Coloration is white, yellow, or light gray with black, brown, or reddish-brown blotches, becoming darker towards the head.
  • Powerful body, small head, enlarged rostral (nose) scale, and white underside with dark spots on the sides.

 

Pinesnakes prefer areas with loose, sandy soils!

 

The reason for this is that they need areas where it’s easy for them to dig! These snakes are excellent burrowers and spend a great deal of time underground. They use underground burrows for winter hibernation and protection from hot weather.

pinesnake range map

Pinesnakes prey on rats, mice, moles, other small mammals, and eggs, often entering or diging into animal burrows after prey. Multiple kills are common.

 

When disturbed, these non-venomous snakes posture aggressively. They often hiss loudly and flatten their head. It’s also common for them to make a noise that sounds remarkably like a rattlesnake. Pinesnakes accomplish this by forcing air through its windpipe, which has a piece of cartilage called an epiglottis that flaps back and forth.

 


#40. Southeastern Crowned Snake

  • Tantilla coronata

Southeastern Crown Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically 8 to 10 inches in length.
  • Coloration is solid grayish-brown or light brown. A black pointed head followed by a whitish or cream band and then a black collar.
  • Slender snake with a solid pink, yellow, or white underside.

 

These tiny snakes occupy damp or dry woodland habitats in North America.

 

They prefer areas with sandy, loose soils and plentiful organic matter and are skilled borrowers. In fact, they are rarely seen because they spend most of the day beneath the soil, rocks, logs, or organic debris! However, you may see them traveling on the surface at night.

crowned snake range map

Southeastern Crowned Snakes feed on small prey, including termites, worms, centipedes, spiders, and earth-dwelling insect larvae.

 

Interestingly, these snakes have small, chiseled fangs in the back of their jaw, which they use to inject venom into their prey. Luckily, the amount of venom is so small they are considered non-venomous when it comes to humans! And even when they are picked up, they generally don’t bite.

 


#41. Red-bellied Mudsnake

  • Farancia abacura

red bellied mud snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 40 to 54 inches in length.
  • Coloration is smooth, glossy black with a red and black checkered underside with the red extending up the sides, creating a triangle pattern.
  • The chin is heavily marked with black and usually yellow, creating a “zipper-like” appearance.

 

These semi-aquatic snakes are usually found in near stagnant muddy waters of shallow streams, rivers, drainage ditches, canals, lakes, marshes, and swamps. They’re often spotted under water-soaked logs or other wet, organic debris and prefer habitats with dense vegetation and muddy bottoms and banks.

 

red bellied mudsnake range map

Red-bellied Mudsnakes are specialized hunters! Adult snakes feed almost exclusively on fully aquatic salamanders. They prey primarily on only two species, the Three-toed Amphiuma and the Lesser Siren.

 

These docile snakes don’t strike when disturbed or captured. Instead, if grabbed, they may press their harmless, blunt tail tip against their attacker, a behavior which has earned them the nicknames “horn snakes” and “stinging snakes” If continually handled, Red-bellied Mudsnakes may release a foul-smelling musk and go limp or play dead.

 

This species is incredibly secretive, and its status is poorly known in many areas.

 


#42. Rainbow Snake

  • Farancia erytrogramma

rainbow snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 27 to 48 inches in length.
  • Coloration is smooth, glossy, iridescent bluish-black with three red stripes and yellow or pink lower sides.
  • A short tail that ends in a pointed, horny scale.

 

These beautiful snakes are highly aquatic and spend most of their lives in water. These powerful swimmers are commonly found in cypress swamps, marshes, blackwater creeks, lakes, slow-moving streams, tidal mudflats, and sandy coastal plains.

rainbow snake range map

Rainbow Snakes are nocturnal and primarily prey on eels, earning them the nickname “Eel Moccasin.” However, they may also eat frogs, tadpoles, and salamanders, and juveniles in particular feed on earthworms and tadpoles. Prey is eaten alive, typically swallowed headfirst.

 

If disturbed, these docile snakes may freeze or attempt to crawl away slowly. If grabbed, they don’t bite but may press the tip of their tail into the attacker and release foul-smelling musk from a pair of glands near the base of their tail.

 

The Rainbow Snake is considered a species of least concern. However, their secretive nature can make their populations hard to count. Degradation of aquatic habitats and any decline of eel populations could negatively impact them.

 


#43. Plains Hog-nosed Snake

  • Heterodon nasicus

plains hog nosed snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 15 to 39 inches in length.
  • Coloration is varying shades of brown with darker brown blotches on the back, two alternating rows of smaller dark spots down the sides, and large longitudinal blotches on the sides of the neck.
  • Enlarged rostral (nose) scale.

 

The Plains Hog-nosed Snake strongly prefers open sandy or gravelly habitats. They’re excellent burrowers and also use old animal burrows for hibernation and protection from hot temperatures.

plains hog nosed snake range map

These snakes are best-known for their impressive displays when disturbed!

 

When initially confronted, Plains Hog-nosed Snakes typically remain motionless or hide their head under their coils. They may also try to bury themselves or escape into a burrow.

 

However, if they’re further disturbed, they’ll spread their jaws and neck like a cobra and puff up their bodies. They may also hiss loudly¬† and deliver false strikes with a closed mouth.

 

If these intimidating displays fail, the Plains Hog-nosed Snake will then twist as though they’re in pain, roll over on their back and play dead. They’ll be limp, open mouthed, and will remain this way even if picked up. They may also bleed from the mouth and cloaca, expel musk and fecal matter, and regurgitate recently eaten food.

 

If I saw one of these snakes do this display, I’d definitely leave it alone! But, unfortunately, they’re sometimes killed by people who are frightened by their cobra-like posture.

 


#44. Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

  • Heterodon platirhinos

eastern hog nosed snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 20 to 30 inches in length.
  • Coloration can be yellow, gray, brown, black, olive, or orange, often with darker blotches or spots down its side and back, though solid gray and black individuals are fairly common.
  • Thick-bodied, broad, triangle-shaped heads, and an upturned snout.

 

Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes prefer areas with sandy soil.

 

Here’s why:

 

Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes primarily prey on toads and use their upturned snout to dig for them in their burrows. They also have enlarged teeth at the rear of the upper jaw that they use to puncture and deflate toads that puff up when threatened. These snakes also have large adrenal glands, which secrete large amounts of hormones to counteract the toad’s potent skin poison!

eastern hog nosed snake range map

When disturbed, Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes lift their head off the ground and flatten their neck like a cobra! They may also hiss and false strike with a closed mouth.

 

If this display fails to scare off a predator, then the snake will play dead. They’ll roll onto their back, let their tongue hang out, and emit musk from glands near the base of their tail. Interestingly, when the threat has left, the snake will right itself and continue as normal. ūüôā


#45. Dekay’s Brownsnake

dekays brownsnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults typically range from 6 to 13 inches in length.
  • Coloration is light brown or gray to dark brown or black with two rows of dark spots down the back, which are sometimes linked.
  • A dark streak down the head and may have a light stripe down the center of the back.

 

Dekay’s Brownsnakes occupy various terrestrial habitats as long as there’s plenty of cover available such as rocks, logs, boards, and all sorts of trash and organic debris. They’re often found in backyards and gardens under objects.

 

dekays brownsnake range map

These secretive, nocturnal snakes hunt during the evening and night, feeding primarily on slugs and earthworms. However, they’ve also been known to consume snails, insects, insect larvae, small tree frogs, tadpoles, frog eggs, spiders, and fish. Prey is typically grabbed and quickly swallowed alive.

 

These docile snakes usually don’t bite in defense. Instead, if captured, they often squirm vigorously or flatten their bodies and may release foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tail.

This species is considered common in most of its range and is not a major conservation concern. It adapts well to human development and has a reputation as a “city snake.” However, pesticide usage and clean-up of cover objects may reduce their populations in urban areas by reducing their habitat and food source.


Australia:


#46. Tiger Snake

  • Notechis scutatus

Also known as the Mainland Tiger Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can reach 120 cm (47 in) long.¬†As their name suggests, their bodies are covered by bands resembling tigerskin.
  • Morph #1 (Common): Olive, green, or brown with cream-colored crossbands
  • Morph #2 (Western): Dark blue or black with yellow bands
  • Morph #3 (Chappell Island): Black, brown, or olive with lighter bands
  • Morph #4 (King Island and Tasmanian): Deep black with light crossbands or a uniform brown with no banding
  • Morph #5 (Southern Peninsulas): Black with white chin and lips

The Tiger Snake is the 4th most venomous snake in Australia!

Keep a watchful eye out for these snakes while trekking in coastal regions. These ground-dwellers love to bask in the sun or rest under fallen trees. But, incredibly, they’re just as adept at swimming and climbing as they are on the ground.

 

If cornered, this reptile will lift and flatten its forebody before swiftly striking. It can be aggressive toward humans, so keep your distance.

 

The bite of a Tiger Snake warrants an immediate trip to the hospital. You may initially experience numbness, profuse sweating, or difficulty breathing if you’re bitten. Unfortunately, victims¬†have only about a 50% survival rate without treatment.

 


#47. Carpet Python

  • Morelia spilota

Also known as the Diamond Python.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 200-400 cm (79-157 in) long.¬†Males are smaller than females.
  • Their heads are triangular with rounded snouts.
  • Their coloring can be olive, yellow, white, brown, or black. They often have¬†blotches, dark borders, or a series of diamonds and streaks.

 

Lurking in trees at night, the Carpet Python is one of the most common snakes in Australia. It frequents forests and rocky lowlands, although occasionally, you might find one on the ground basking in the sun.

 

Rodents, lizards, frogs, and fledgling birds are some of this species’ favorite meals. Additionally, Carpet Pythons are known to eat small dogs and house cats. So, remember¬†to keep your pets inside! These snakes immobilize their prey by coiling their powerful bodies around it and then swallowing it whole. But they can easily use their sharp fangs as a tool, even though they aren’t venomous.

 

Thankfully, Carpet Pythons are generally harmless to humans. In fact, they’re famous among exotic pet keepers. But be careful! Though usually mild-mannered, these snakes can still deliver a painful bite with fangs that curve backward.

 


#48. Eastern Brown Snake

  • Pseudonaja textilis

Also known as the Common Brown Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 150-200 cm (59-79 in) long.
  • They have rounded snouts and long, tapered tails.
  • Coloration includes shades of brown or olive with pale undersides. Some specimens are dark gray.¬†

 

This unassuming species is the world’s second-deadliest snake! In addition to being incredibly dangerous, Eastern Brown Snakes are very common in Australia. This combination means that this species regularly kills more people than any other.

Toxins in the Eastern Brown Snake’s venom will attack your circulatory system, causing internal bleeding and cardiac arrest. And don’t be complacent with juveniles because their venom packs an extra punch. It has less yield, but it’s more potent! Seek medical attention immediately if you’re bitten.¬†

 

If you spend time in this species’ territory, keep your eyes on the ground and look for their raised heads. Eastern Brown Snakes often poke their heads out of the grass to survey their surroundings. This is how they find skinks, mice, and geckos to feed on. Despite their incredible speed, they prefer not to chase after prey. Instead, these clever snakes wait outside their victims’ burrows and corner them. Then, after¬†a long day of hunting, they retreat into crevices.

 


#49. Red-bellied Black Snake

  • Pseudechis porphyriacus

Also known as the Australian Black Snake and the Common Black Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to 125 cm (49 in) long on average.
  • They have broad heads. Their snouts are pale and rounded.
  • Made obvious by their name, these snakes are typically black with reddish undersides. Their flanks are bright red or orange.

 

Red-bellied Black Snakes wander into urban areas in Australia frequently.

 

Red-bellied Black Snakes typically stay close to bodies of water. There, they feast on frogs, fish, and eels. These clever snakes have figured out that they can lure out their prey by disturbing the sediment at the bottom of a stream or lake.

This species is highly venomous, but there are no recorded human deaths from its bite. They’re usually not aggressive. However, a cornered snake will not hesitate to strike repeatedly, and they’re extremely quick. Its venom can cause pain around the wound, excessive bleeding, and abdominal discomfort. Curiously, some bite victims also lose their sense of smell.

 


#50. Black-headed Python

  • Aspidites melanocephalus

Also known as the Rock Python, Tar Pot Snake, and Terry Tar Pot.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 150-200 cm (59-79 in) long.
  • They have muscular bodies that taper towards their tails.
  • They have distinctive black-colored heads and necks as if dipped head-first into ink.
  • Their bodies are usually shades of brown and gray with dark banding.

 

You can find this unique-looking snake in semiarid regions and coastal forests of northern Australia. Active at night, Black-headed Pythons rest in crevasses and dead wood in the daytime. They do this to hide from predatory birds.

 

The Black-headed Python’s diet consists of other reptiles, even cannibalizing its own species. Given a chance, they will even prey on highly venomous snakes! If you get too close, this snake will loudly hiss as a warning. Thankfully, it’s non-venomous and harmless to humans.

 

Did you know that dark colors are efficient at absorbing heat? Black-headed Pythons use this trait to their advantage. These pythons poke out their ink-black heads at daybreak to soak in the sun’s rays like a solar panel. The heated blood then travels to the rest of their bodies, keeping the snakes warm without leaving their burrows.

 


#51. Common Tree Snake

  • Dendrelaphis punctulatus

Also known as the Australian Tree Snake, Green Tree Snake, Common Bronzeback, and Black Treesnake.

Credit (upper left image): Paul Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can reach 170 cm (67 in) in length.¬†They are slim-bodied with tapering, whip-like tails.
  • Their eyes are remarkably large with round pupils.
  • Coloring varies from green to olive or black to blue. Their throats and bellies are pale tan or yellow.

 

The Common Tree Snake is native to Australia. But don’t blink, or you’ll miss this small and nimble snake! It thrives in temperate forests, wetlands, and suburban backyards.¬†

 

With an appetite for frogs, small fish, and water skinks, Common Tree Snakes stay close to bodies of water. They hunt during the day and then rest inside tree hollows by night. They have excellent vision and are very alert, ready to run away at the first sign of danger. 

 

Being small and non-venomous, the Common Tree Snake poses no threat to humans. It will, however, make itself appear bigger by inflating its neck as a warning to back away. Then, the snake might emit a strong odor to disorient you. Hold your breath!

 


#52. Lowlands Copperhead

  • Austrelaps superbus

Also known as the Copperhead Snake and Common Copperhead.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 100-150 cm (39-59 in) long.¬†
  • Their heads are small and narrow, and they have distinct, raised scales.
  • They are typically reddish-brown to copper. Some individuals are shades of gray.

 

You’ll find the highly venomous Lowlands Copperhead near Australia’s freshwater scrublands, swamps, and marshes. Sometimes, they wander into urban settlements in search of food, so stay alert!

 

Lowlands Copperheads have a taste for frogs and lizards, but they sometimes cannibalize their own kind. When they’re not hunting, they take refuge in abandoned animal burrows. Unlike other snakes, they can tolerate colder temperatures and are active even during winter.

 

Though otherwise shy, Lowlands Copperheads will hiss and thrash when approached. Their bites can cause a loss of consciousness, convulsions, and even death. Luckily, the same antivenom used for Tiger Snake bites works just as well against this species. So if¬†you’re bitten, get medical help right away!

 


#53. Small-eyed Snake

  • Cryptophis nigrescens

Also known as the Short-tailed Snake and Eastern Small-eyed Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50 cm (20 in) long on average.
  • True to their name, they have small, unremarkable eyes and flat, rectangular heads.
  • Their coloring is black or dark blue with a glossy sheen. The undersides are pale cream or pinkish.

 

Look for Small-eyed Snakes in Australia in humid, wet rainforests.

They also lurk in craggy outcrops near wooded areas. You should even be cautious in the suburbs! Residents report frequent sightings of this snake in their gardens.

 

Active at night, Small-eyed Snakes feed on geckos, lizards, and even smaller snakes. By morning, they take shelter in rock crevices and fallen logs. Then, dozens of these snakes hibernate together in tight spaces to preserve body heat during winter.

 

The Small-eyed Snake is a shy species, preferring not to bite even when disturbed. Instead, it will thrash around violently to intimidate an attacker. Regardless, you should take care not to get bitten. This snake’s venom is potent enough to result in kidney failure!

 


#54. Mulga Snake

  • Pseudechis australis

Also known as the King Brown Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 200-250 cm (79-98 in) long.
  • Females are unusually smaller than males.
  • They have broad heads, rounded snouts, and bulbous cheeks.
  • Their scales are two-toned: brown or copper on top with a contrasting pale underside.

 

The Mulga snake is the LARGEST venomous snake in Australia.

You can find this snake in many habitats, from damp tropical forests to dry sandy deserts. Hunting at dusk, it boldly preys on other snakes, including venomous ones!

Don’t go peeking in strange holes! Mulga Snakes take refuge in empty animal burrows and solid rock cavities. They can be relentless when they bite, latching onto unfortunate prey (or people). Their venom destroys blood cells. Bite victims can experience intense pain, severe bleeding, and even death if left untreated.

 

In terms of temperament, Mulga Snakes seem to differ by region. For example, specimens in the south are timid and will likely only bite as a last resort. On the other hand, Northern individuals can be aggressive and may instantly attack when approached.

 


#55. Bandy Bandy

  • Vermicella annulata

Also known as the Hoop Snake and Eastern Bandy-Bandy.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-60 cm (20-24 in) long.
  • They have small heads and blunt-tipped tails.
  • Color patterns are alternating black and white stripes along the snake’s body.¬†

 

The Bandy Bandy is a small and harmless snake endemic to Australia.

You can cup them easily in your hands! They live far and wide: from dense forests to arid regions with little vegetation and woodlands near suburbs. These adorable snakes come out in droves on humid nights or after a good rain.

 

As a nocturnal hunter, the Bandy Bandy spends its day resting in burrows or underneath tree stumps. It has a specialized diet consisting entirely of blind snakes. Funnily, you might spot a Bandy Bandy with prey larger than itself poking out of its mouth. After a full meal, this snake can go for months before eating again.

 

Bandy Bandy snakes elevate their bodies off the ground in loops when threatened. The reason for this display is unclear, though scientists believe that it confuses predators such as owls.

 


#56. Children’s Python

  • Antaresia childreni¬†

Also known as the Banded Rock Python, Gefleckter Python, Stimsons Python, Large-blotched Python, Small-blotched Python, and Eastern Small-blotched Python.

Credit (left image): Photwik Photographer for Kiddle.co via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 100-150 cm (39-59 in) long.
  • Their coloring is light brown with dark spots and blotches. Their bellies are paler in contrast, and they have a dark-colored streak passing through each eye.
  • When hit by sunlight, their skin gives off a rainbow sheen.

 

The Children’s python is the second smallest python in the world. This night-dwelling reptile lurks in caves and coastal woodlands. Here, the Children’s Python spends its time hunting birds and lizards. Sometimes, you might find one basking in the sun or hiding inside hollowed logs.

 

Interestingly, Children’s Pythons can hang upside down from stalactites of cave ceilings. They are remarkably skilled at catching bats, speedily grabbing their prey mid-flight. Then, they grip the bats in a crushing hold before swallowing them whole.

 

Due to their small size, Children’s Pythons are quite popular as pets. Unfortunately, this snake is often taken from its natural habitat in Australia. Although they are prized as pets, it’s better to observe this species in its natural environment.¬†

 


#57. Common Keelback

  • Tropidonophis mairii

Also known as Mair’s Keelback.

Credit (left image): John Robert McPherson, (right image): Rison Thumboor, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-75 cm (20-30 in) in length.
  • Their bodies are gray, brown, or olive with cream-colored undersides. Some specimens have patterns of dark spots along their backs.

 

Despite their resemblance to other deadly species, Common Keelbacks are harmless to humans. You might see one swimming by if you linger around creeks and floodplains in Australia. If you try to approach, this snake will flee quickly into the safety of burrows or waterlogged plants. 

 

Common Keelbacks are equipped with a variety of survival adaptations. First, they can adjust to being active at night or during the day, depending on seasonal temperatures. Next, their keeled scales help them move across slippery surfaces like mud and wet grass. Finally, they have sharp, angled teeth, which help them latch onto slippery prey.

 

The diets of Common Keelbacks include amphibians, fish, and lizards. Interestingly, they are one of the few animals that can feed on poisonous Cane Toads.

 


#58. Curl Snake

  • Suta suta

Also known as the Myall.

Credit (left image): Max Tibby, (right image): Max Tibby, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 40-60 cm (16-24 in) long.
  • They have flat heads and broad snouts, and a stripe passes through their snouts, connecting both eyes.
  • They are varying shades of brown, but their heads are marked with a dark-colored patch.

 

Curl Snakes in Australia inhabit forests and grasslands.

Watch where you’re walking! You never know when one is hiding among the leaf litter. These snakes forage for food at night, then retreat to the safety of rocky crevices when the day breaks.

These reptiles have an appetite for skinks, geckos, and legless lizards. As their name implies, Curl Snakes coil their bodies into a spring to protect their heads when they feel threatened. Unlike most snakes, females of this species give birth to live babies, normally in litters of 1-7.

 

A bite from the Curl Snake isn’t likely to cause serious damage. However, they are venomous, and little is known about their effects, so seek medical treatment if you get bitten. Thankfully, these snakes are usually calm and tend to avoid humans.

 


#59. Desert Banded Snake

  • Simoselaps bertholdi

Also known as the Southern Desert Banded Snake and Jan’s Banded Snake.

Credit (left image): Jean and Fred, (right image): Max Tibby, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 30 cm (12 in) long on average.
  • They have short, blunt-tipped tails and pale faces.
  • Their body coloring is brown or orange with dark bands.

 

Look for Desert Banded Snakes in Australia in dry habitats.

Though this vibrant reptile is venomous, it’s too tiny for its bite to harm humans significantly. You’ll find them in deserts, shrublands, and wooded areas.

 

To escape bigger predators, Desert Banded Snakes dig burrows into the sand or hide under shrubs. Active at night, they feed on skinks and legless lizards. They are patient hunters, lying in wait for hours with only their heads poking out of the sand.

 

Desert Banded Snakes are bashful, non-aggressive creatures that prefer to escape at the first sign of danger. In fact, they rarely bite, even when handled. They spend most of their lives underground. If you find one while digging in your garden, you can leave it to eat pests!

 


#60. Highlands Copperhead

  • Austrelaps ramsayi

Also known as the Pygmy Copperhead.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 113 cm (44 in) long.
  • They have thickly muscled bodies and fairly small heads.
  • They are different shades of brown or gray, with pale yellow bellies.

 

The Highlands Copperhead enjoys the cool, high-altitude forests of Australia. It resides in swampy and forested lands, often hiding in thick clumps of grass. Be especially wary near the edges of creeks, large stones, and fallen trees.

 

Highlands Copperheads usually feast on frogs and lizards but occasionally cannibalize their own kind. These snakes climb trees to bask in the sunlight when they’re not foraging for food.

 

Avoid Highlands Copperheads at all costs, as these highly venomous snakes can send you to the hospital. Thankfully, they’re rather reclusive, actively avoiding human-populated areas. Nevertheless, a¬†cornered snake will loudly hiss and flail its flattened body, so respect the warning and back away.

 


#61. Little Whip Snake

  • Parasuta flagellum (synonymous with Suta flagellum)

Also known as the Whip Hooded Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to 45 cm (18 in) long.
  • They have a black patch on their heads that resembles a miniature helmet.
  • Their coloring ranges from light to dark brown, with cream-colored undersides.

 

Many consider the Little Whip Snake the cutest snake in Australia!

It’s a nocturnal species, preying mostly on small frogs and lizards. You’ll find this snake in grassy and wooded regions, hiding under rock slabs to evade predators.

 

In winter, Little Whip Snakes hibernate in groups to conserve heat. They’re listed as a vulnerable species because of habitat destruction and because domestic cats and dogs hunt them. So if you spot one of these threatened snakes, leave it be.

 

The venom of the Little Whip Snake is too mild to harm humans seriously. But, of course, that doesn’t mean you can be careless with this snake! Timid as it is, this reptile can still inflict a painful bite if irritated. It might also fling its body and release a foul smell to get you to back off.

 


#62. Mallee Black-backed Snake

  • Parasuta nigriceps

Also known as Mitchell’s Short-Tailed Snake.

Credit: Matt via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 40 cm (16 in) long.
  • They have a black patch on their heads, from the nape down to the nose.
  • They are typically brown-colored, with creamy white undersides.

 

Mallee Black-backed Snakes are native to Australia. Normally, you can find them in semiarid savannas and woodlands. Skinks and geckos are their usual prey, but they also engage in cannibalism if given a chance.

 

Due to their small size, Mallee Black-backed Snakes are vulnerable to predators. To protect themselves, they take cover inside fallen timber and abandoned burrows. Their body coloring also helps them camouflage among dead leaves.

 

The Mallee Black-backed Snakes’ venom effectively subdues their prey but is harmless to humans. They are extremely docile and unlikely to bite even if you pick them up. However, avoiding them altogether is best because they resemble other venomous species. That’s one identity mix-up you don’t want to make!

 


#63. Olive Python

  • Liasis olivaceus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can exceed 400 cm (157 in) in total length.
  • They are heavy-bodied with fairly short tails and small scales.
  • Their coloring is uniformly brown to olive, with paler bellies.

 

The Olive Python is one of the largest snakes in Australia.

They tend to live close to sources of freshwater. In fact, this land-dwelling snake is also a capable swimmer! You might also find this species in rocky gorges and coastal woodlands. 

 

Foraging for food at night, Olive Pythons like to camp out near watering holes. Here, they ambush unwary ducks, wallabies, and monitor lizards. Impressively, larger individuals can even take down crocodiles! But, like¬†all pythons, they’re non-venomous, so they kill their prey by wrapping them up in a crushing grip.

 

Despite their fearsome size and appearance, Olive Pythons are actually gentle creatures. Experienced snake handlers describe them as curious and friendly. Regardless, it’s best to observe caution when walking in their habitat. They have lightning-fast reflexes, and their bites can be painful. Watch your fingers!

 


#64. Orange-naped Snake

  • Furina ornata

Also known as the Moon Snake.

Credit (left image): Matt via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 40 cm (16 in) long.¬†They are slender-bodied snakes with flat heads and round snouts.
  • Their coloring is brown and gray, growing paler near their undersides.
  • They have black faces and a bright orange patch at the base of their heads.

 

Keep your eyes open! This snake hides among fallen leaves in Australia in forests and scrublands. The Orange-naped Snake can also survive in deserts, hiding deep within abandoned burrows. When night falls, you might find one chasing down geckos or creeping toward sleeping skinks.

 

When confronted, Orange-naped Snakes raise their heads high off the ground, imitating a cobra. However, they aren’t quite as intimidating. Some specimens even have a poor sense of balance, tumbling down clumsily into a heap when they elevate their heads too high.

 

In general, Orange-naped Snakes are timid creatures. They don’t usually bite, preferring to strike with their mouths shut if you get too close. Though they’re venomous, not much is known about the potency of their venom. So, keep your distance and seek medical attention if you get bitten.

 


#65. Prong-snouted Blind Snake

  • Anilios bituberculatus
Credit (left image): Scott Eipper/Nature 4 You, (right image): Sam Gordon, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 30-45 cm (12-18 in) long.
  • Their heads are indistinct from their bodies, and they have pin-prick eyes and drooping snouts.
  • They are shiny brown in color. You might easily mistake them for earthworms!

 

It’s difficult to find the unusual-looking Prong-snouted Blind Snake in Australia.

This is an incredibly elusive species whose range isn’t fully known. What we do know is that it can thrive in many habitats, including grassland and coastal regions.

 

Prong-snouted Blind Snakes are burrowers, spending the majority of their lives underground. They only come out to the surface on warm, humid nights. These clever snakes stay near ant tunnels and termite mounds to hunt down prey. When a group of insects returns to their home, the snake picks them off one by one!

 

With their unusually-shaped mouths, Prong-snouted Blind Snakes aren’t capable of biting. They’re non-venomous and entirely harmless to humans. Even so, you’d be smart not to poke them. They can expel an offensive odor from their anal glands or use their spined tails to prick you.

 


#66. Shield-snouted Brown Snake

  • Pseudonaja aspidorhyncha

Also known as the Strap-snouted Brown Snake, Longman’s Brown Snake, Gow’s Brown Snake, and McCoy’s Brown Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 130-150 cm (51-59 in) long.
  • They have narrow heads and chisel-shaped snouts.
  • Their bodies are light to medium brown, sometimes grayish. Their bellies are yellow-white.

 

Shield-snouted Brown Snakes in Australia prefer dry woodlands and stony deserts.

Keep your eyes open when you’re out for a walk! Sometimes, these reptiles wander into suburban communities. Although primarily¬†active in the daytime, they can adapt to nocturnal life in hotter seasons.

 

Their diets include small mammals, birds, and lizards. Shield-snouted Brown Snakes have sharp vision and can catch even the slightest of movements. Once they secure a bite, these fast-moving snakes quickly coil around their prey while their venom takes effect.

 

The bite of a Shield-snouted Brown Snake can be life-threatening. Its venom attacks a person’s nervous system, leading to cardiac arrest in serious cases. Fortunately, this species prefers to flee in the presence of humans. But remember, a cornered snake will not hesitate to strike, so keep your distance!

 


#67. Water Python

  • Liasis fuscus

Also known as the Australian Water Python and Brown Water Python.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 300 cm (118 in) long.
  • Their heads are flat and fairly elongated, rounding towards the snout.
  • The body coloring is olive to dark brown, with a yellowish underside.

 

Water Pythons are abundant in lowland swamps and river plains. Their beautiful iridescent scales reflect a rainbow of colors when hit by light. This snake in Australia is fabled to be the source of the story of a “Rainbow Serpent” believed to have brought life to Australia’s valleys and rivers.

 

These snakes are fantastic swimmers. Upon sensing danger, they escape into the water, where most predators can’t chase after them. These nocturnal pythons roam near the water’s edge to prey on unsuspecting rodents, waterfowl, and baby crocodiles.

 

The Water Python is non-venomous, which makes it famous in the exotic pet industry. However, accounts differ in terms of their temperament. Some specimens are mild-mannered, while others can be quick to bite. Pythons drive a lot of force behind their bites, so you should be cautious if you come upon one!

 


#68. Western Brown Snake

  • Pseudonaja mengdeni

Also known as the Collared Brown Snake and Mengden’s Brown snake.

Credit (left image): Christopher Watson via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to 120 cm (47 in) long.
  • They are slim-bodied snakes with short heads and round snouts.
  • Morph #1: Dull yellow to orange, with dark-colored heads.
  • Morph #2: Brown or yellowish. Their heads are pale in contrast.

 

Western Brown Snakes live in dry woodlands and stony plains in Australia.

They hunt small lizards, birds, and mammals in broad daylight. Since these reptiles are adept at climbing trees, unattended bird eggs aren’t safe either!¬†

 

These hawk-eyed hunters can seize their prey in a burst of speed. They hold on with sharp teeth, then wrap around the unlucky victim as the venom does its work. During periods of hot weather, Western Brown Snakes shift to hunting in the nighttime.

 

A threatened Western Brown Snake will raise its forebody into an S-shaped stance, mouth agape. When it does, it’s best to back away. Though the bite is painless and the fang marks undetectable, the venom is highly potent! Symptoms include internal bleeding, kidney failure, and even death if left untreated.

 


#69. White-lipped Snake

  • Drysdalia coronoides

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 40 cm (16 in) long.¬†They have slender bodies with tapered tails.
  • Their body coloring is light brown to dark olive. Some have orange bellies.
  • As their name suggests, they have a prominent white line above their lips. This line runs parallel to a black one, reaching behind their jaws at both sides of the head.

 

You can find White-lipped Snakes in Australia near grassy and forested regions.

 

Impressively, White-lipped Snakes can withstand the bitter cold! You might cross paths with one while hiking on Mount Kosciuszko, the continent’s tallest mountain. Because of their small bodies, these snakes are more agile and can generate heat through movement.

 

Typically reclusive, White-lipped Snakes will quickly flee if you approach them. Most of the time, their venom is too mild to harm healthy adults. However, some people can be more sensitive to its venom, so getting medical help is still important if you’re bitten.

 


#70. Yellow-bellied Sea Snake

  • Hydrophis platurus

Also known as the Pelagic Sea Snake.

Credit (left image): Aloaiza, (right image): Carpenter0, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to 70 cm (28 in) in length.
  • They have narrow heads, long snouts, and flattened flipper-like tails.
  • Their coloring is bright yellow on the belly and deep brown or black above.

 

Yellow-bellied Sea Snakes are spotted swimming in tropical waters across the Indian Ocean. Stay vigilant while on beach walks, as you’ll almost certainly see this snake in Australia! They make breeding grounds out of free-drifting masses of sea kelp.

Yellow-bellied Sea Snakes are frighteningly agile while underwater. Capable of swimming backward or changing direction in a split second, they can catch any passing prey. They also stay motionless for hours to trick fish into coming close. In open waters, they sometimes gather and hunt by the thousands.

 

The Yellow-bellied Sea Snake’s bite is highly venomous. Victims suffer muscle pain and drowsiness, or even complete paralysis and death in the worst cases. Most bites happen on beaches, where the snakes sometimes wash ashore.¬†

 


#71. Yellow-faced Whip Snake

  • Demansia psammophis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 80 cm (31 in) long on average.
  • They have slim bodies, long tails, and narrow heads. Look for a dark curve below their snouts.
  • Their coloring is olive green, brown, or gray with white undersides.

 

Yellow-faced Whip Snakes are scattered throughout Australia, from open forests to dry scrublands. Some even slither into farmlands and suburban backyards, so pay attention if you’re out gardening!¬†

 

During winter, Yellow-faced Whip Snakes gather tightly in rock crevices to preserve body heat. In addition, they lay their eggs communally for the same reason. These nests are located in deep holes and can contain up to 200 eggs.

 

With impressive speed and excellent eyesight,¬† these daytime foragers pursue frogs and lizards. Young Yellow-faced Whip Snakes constrict their prey, but as they grow older, they learn to let their venom do most of the work. If you try to approach one, it will hastily run for cover. While painful, the¬†bite of this species isn’t dangerous to healthy adults.

 


#72. Common Death Adder

  • Acanthophis antarcticus

Also known as the Common Adder or Death Adder.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 65 cm (26 in) long.
  • Their tails abruptly taper into a narrow point, and they have broad, triangular heads.
  • This species’ coloring is gray to rusty brown, patterned with dark, jagged bands along their lengths.

 

Common Death Adders have the longest fangs of any snake in Australia.

Be wary of these deadly snakes, specifically near coastal areas. Their habitats include forests, woodlands, and grassy plains. 

Common Death Adders don’t chase after their prey. Instead, they blend into the leaf litter, waiting to lunge on unsuspecting lizards, birds, and small mammals. Additionally, these clever reptiles shake their worm-like tails to lure in their victims.

 

Common Death Adders will stay perfectly still upon sensing danger and only bite if provoked directly. However, that doesn’t mean you should linger if you spot one! Their venom is a highly potent neurotoxin. It assaults the nervous system, causing dizziness and paralysis. Left untreated, 50-60% of bites are fatal. Seek medical attention immediately if you’re bitten.

 


#73. Bardick

  • Echiopsis curta

Also known as the Desert Snake.

Credit (left image): em_lamond via iNaturalist.org, Rémi Bigonneau via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 40 cm (16 in) long.
  • They have thick bodies, very short tails, and broad heads. Look for white flecks on their lips.
  • Their coloring is reddish brown to gray, growing lighter at the sides. Their undersides are white or cream.

 

Be careful where you tread! The Bardick Snake has a knack for camouflaging among dead leaves, so you might accidentally step on one. These reptiles reside in wooded and grassy areas. It’s common to find them flattened out in the grass, basking in the morning sun.

 

When finding a meal, patience pays off for these sneaky snakes. Instead of tracking down their prey, they stay motionless, waiting for unsuspecting frogs and lizards to come within striking distance. Finally, after a night of hunting, Bardicks return to their dens under fallen trees or flat rocks.

 

Normally mild-tempered, this species can become surprisingly fierce when provoked. Not much is known about the danger of a Bardick’s bite. However, their venom is similar to that of the deadly Common Death Adder. Stay away!

 


#74. Dugite

  • Pseudonaja affinis

Also known as the Spotted Brown Snake.

Credit: Cal Wood via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 150 cm (59 in) long.
  • Their heads are small and indistinct from their necks.
  • This species’ coloring is a glossy brown, green, or gray. They occasionally have black scales scattered across their bodies.

Look for the Dugite Snake in Australia in coastal plains, dunes, and shrublands.

These snakes have become increasingly common in urban settlements where house mice are abundant. Be especially alert during their mating season in October and November.

Dugite Snakes have an ingenious way of catching a meal. First, they¬†infiltrate animal burrows and crevices where lizards rest, blocking off the entrance so their prey can’t escape. Then, once they have it cornered, they bite the prey and swallow it whole. These reptiles mostly forage in the daytime but switch to hunting at night when the weather gets too hot.

 

Naturally shy, this species will zip to safety if disturbed. But make no mistake! A cornered snake will fight back. Adopting an S-shaped pose, it will loudly hiss before aiming high for a strike. The Dugite is highly venomous, and bites are often deadly. So, bite victims should seek medical help at once.

 


#75. Australian Scrub Python

  • Simalia kinghorni

Also known as the Amethystine Python.

Credit (left image): robertpaulyoung, (right) Twin Peaks (Roy) via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can grow up to 500 cm (197 in).
  • They have flat, elongated heads and a dark stripe that connects their eyes to their mouth.
  • Their bodies are covered with jagged bands in contrasting brown and black colors, creating a net-like pattern.

 

This massive snake is the largest python in Australia!

The Australian Scrub Python is indigenous to northern rainforests, where it prowls at night in search of mammals such as wallabies and possums. Like all pythons, they use their powerful bodies to constrict their prey before eating it whole.

 

Australian Scrub Pythons spend most of their lives high up in forest canopies. They use their long tails to grasp branches as they move from tree to tree. At the start of the breeding season, large numbers of male pythons gather in gorges to fight for a chance to mate with a female. The biggest pythons usually succeed.

These snakes are excitable creatures, and you’d be wise never to pick one up! Though they’re not equipped with venom, Australian Scrub Pythons have large teeth that can easily tear into human flesh. Ouch!

 


Asia:


#76. White-lipped Pit Viper

  • Trimeresurus albolabris

Also known as Green Tree Pit Viper and White-lipped Bamboo Pit Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Males are 60 cm (24 in) long. They also have light-colored side stripes, which the females lack.
  • Females are 81 cm (32 in) long.
  • Their coloring is green on the upper body, with lighter shades of yellow, light green, or white on the belly and sides of the head.

 

The White-lipped Pit Viper is one of the most widespread snakes in Asia.

Their preferred habitat is shrublands, agricultural areas, forests, and suburban gardens. These vipers are ambush predators that wait for small mammals, birds, and frogs to come by. When a meal gets close, they attack, injecting venom until the prey dies.

White-lipped Vipers are solitary and most active at night, which helps them to avoid hunting during high temperatures. They prefer cooler weather because it’s easier to use their heat-sensitive pits. These organs pick up the body heat of animals, but that heat can be hard to distinguish on warmer nights.

 

White-lipped Pit Vipers also use their heat-sensitive pits to find cool areas where they can rest. Old animal burrows, leaf litter, and the base of shrubs are all likely spots to find these snakes, but it’s better to avoid them if you can. The White-lipped Pit Viper has hemotoxic venom, which can cause various symptoms. Some people report only mild irritation, but this snake’s bite can cause pain, blood clots, and death if left untreated.


#77. Red-banded Snake

  • Lycodon rufozonatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 70-130 cm (28-51 in) long.
  • The head is long, flat, and slightly wider than the neck.
  • Their coloring is dark brown with horizontal crimson lines on the back. The belly is beige, with black spots on the tail.

 

The Red-banded Snake is a nocturnal, medium-sized snake whose venom is not harmful to humans. They can be found in various habitats near water, such as marshes and river plains.

 

Even though these terrestrial snakes are usually found on the ground, they tend to be good climbers and swimmers. Look for them in small streams and ponds as well as in grassy areas. If they aren’t swimming or hunting, they curl into a spherical mass with the head hidden for protection.

 

Despite being relatively harmless, Red-banded Snakes in Asia should be given space.

If approached, some individuals can be unpredictable, and while they usually flee, they are also known to bite. They also have a defensive measure of secreting a very strong musk from the anal glands.

 


#78. Many-banded Krait

  • Bungarus multicinctus

Also known as the Chinese Krait or the Taiwanese Krait.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1-1.5 m (3-5 ft) long. The record length is 1.85 m (6.1 ft).
  • Its body is slim and slightly compressed on the sides, with the spine visible on top.
  • Their coloring is dark bluish-black with white cross bands along the back.

 

Look for the Many-banded Krait in shrublands, agricultural fields, woodlands, suburban areas, and villages. It often makes its home inside abandoned buildings. This species prefers to stay close to water, so pay close attention to rice paddies, ditches, and riverbanks.

It’s best to keep your distance from this highly venomous snake in Asia.

 

Many-banded Kraits have strong jaws and can twist sharply, landing a bite even when held behind the head. It can take up to an hour to show symptoms of a bite, by which time there can be lethal consequences. So if you see one in the wild, it should be left alone.

 


#79. Chinese Green Snake

  • Ptyas major

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 75‚Äď90 cm (30-35 in) long.
  • Its coloring is bright green above, with greenish-yellow scales on the sides and belly.
  • Some specimens have scattered black spots on the back.

 

The Chinese Green Snake is semi-arboreal, meaning it splits time between trees and the ground. They prefer to live in humid forests and farmland. When encountered, they tend to be mild-mannered and rarely bite.

 

This diurnal snake is most active during the day in Asia and spends its nights resting on tree branches. Its diet consists of insects and their larvae, earthworms, and other soft-bodied invertebrates. The Chinese Green Snake is non-venomous.

 


#80. Chinese Green Tree Viper

  • Trimeresurus stejnegeri

Also known as the Chinese Pit Viper,  Bamboo Viper, and Chinese Tree Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 90 cm (35 in) long.
  • They have triangular heads, noticeably red eyes, and bright green coloring. The end of the tail is brick red.
  • A thin white line runs down the sides, and males also have a red line in the same spot.

 

Don’t let this snake’s bright coloring and slow movements fool you; it’s aggressive and venomous! The Chinese Green Tree Viper prefers moist environments and often lives in cultivated farmland.¬†Luckily, it’s rare to stumble on an active Chinese Green Tree Viper because they spend their days sleeping, preferring to hunt at night. This species eats rodents, frogs, birds, and other snakes.

 

If you see one of these snakes in Asia, back up slowly and give it plenty of space as you leave the area.

 

The Chinese Green Tree Viper’s venom is potent, and its bite can be lethal without medical attention. The symptoms include an extremely painful wound, often compared to being branded with a hot iron. The pain can last for up to 24 hours after the bite. Within a few minutes of being bitten, the hemotoxic venom breaks down blood and tissue, causing swelling and necrosis.

 


#81. Chinese Cobra

  • Naja atra

Also known as Taiwan Cobra. 

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1.2-1.5 m (4-5 ft) long.
  • Their coloring is iridescent black overall, with several white or yellow lines on the body and a white throat.
  • They have the prominent fanned hood typical of a cobra species.

 

The Chinese Cobra is one of the most venomous snakes in Asia.

Its typical habitat is shrublands and mangroves. However, it’s highly adaptable to a wide range of terrain, including grassland plains, open fields, jungle, and even heavily populated regions. The only habitat it avoids is dark forests with a closed canopy.

The Chinese Cobra has a varied diet and hunts both night and day, so you can see this species at any time. Unfortunately, this makes it even more dangerous for people who are caught unaware. Many accidentally stumble upon a Chinese Cobra and are bitten before they notice the snake.

 

This species’ highly venomous bite contains cardiotoxins, which damage the heart and muscles, and neurotoxins, which damage the brain and nerves. This combination causes life-threatening symptoms, including necrosis, chest pain, fever, lockjaw, and difficulty breathing. Fortunately, antivenom is widely available, so seek immediate treatment if you’re bitten.

 


#82. Yellow-spotted Keelback

  • Fowlea flavipunctatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 1 m (3.2 ft) long.
  • They are predominantly yellow or beige, with dark brown or black spots and a defined “V” marking on their necks.
  • The eyes are notably large compared to the head.

 

The Yellow-spotted Keelback is a semi-aquatic snake living in slow rivers, marshes, and lakes. It also thrives in wet human-modified habitats, such as rice fields and ditches.

 

This snake is most active during the day and hunts with its strong swimming abilities. Its diet consists mostly of fish and frogs, and it serves as pest control by preying on rats and mice.

 

Even though the Yellow Keelback is considered non-venomous, it should be left alone if encountered in its natural habitat. It tends to get aggressive, biting and drawing blood if startled or scared. Stay back!

 


#83. Short-tailed Mamushi

  • Gloydius brevicauda
Hyun-tae Kim – https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/2809108

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 28-68 cm¬† (11-27 in) long.
  • They are light brown or reddish with grey elliptical spots and white stripes on a grey underbelly.
  • The head is wider than the body, with dark brown horizontal spots around the eyes. The eyes themselves are black or dark brown.

 

The Short-tailed Mamushi is a venomous pit viper and one of the most dangerous snakes in Asia.

Its venom causes the victim’s tissues to liquefy, often leading to skin necrosis. About ten people per year pass away due to a severe bite from a Short-tailed Mamushi. Luckier victims survive but are usually hospitalized for a week or longer.

 

This species inhabits open forests, meadows, marshes, swamps, and rocky hillsides. It hunts by ambushing its prey, camouflaged in low vegetation or leaves, waiting for rodents, small birds, insects, and other reptiles. Be extra cautious when hiking or walking in its range because it’s likely to feel threatened before you notice its presence.

 


#84. Banded Krait

  • Bungarus fasciatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 0.8 m (2.6 ft) long, but the largest recorded was 2.7 m (9 ft).
  • Its body is covered in horizontal yellow and black bands. The underparts of the head are yellow.
  • The head is black, with a broad shape, but not distinct from the body. Look for its distinctive keeled spine, which gives its body a triangular shape.

 

Banded Kraits can be seen in diverse habitats, ranging from forests to agricultural lands and open countryside plains. They often live near human settlements, especially villages, because of the large supply of rodents and water.

 

Due to their love of water, they can most commonly be seen during rainy seasons. They are also nocturnal and usually hunt at night, mainly feeding on other snakes but are also known to eat fish, skinks, frogs, and snake eggs.

 

If harassed, they will hide their heads under their coils and do not generally attempt to bite. But, since they are more active at night, it can be easy to stumble upon one and wind up in danger. The Banded Krait’s venom contains neurotoxins, and though bites are rare, it’s best to avoid this snake in Asia.

 


#85. Tiger Keelback

  • Rhabdophis tigrinus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 60‚Äď100 cm (24‚Äď39 in) long.
  • Their coloring is checkered olive green and black with orange, yellow, or red crossbars on the first third of the body.
  • The underside is white to cream.

 

The Tiger Keelback uses its tongue as much as its vision to hunt for prey. This is because it¬†has sensitive receptors that react to chemicals in its prey, leading it directly to its next meal. This ability is why you may have heard that some snakes in Asia can “smell” with their tongues!

 

This species is sensitive to colder temperatures and is less likely to run away when the weather is cold. So, be alert of your surroundings in cooler seasons to ensure you don’t run afoul of the Tiger Keelback. In warmer weather, it’s more likely to flee than to try and fight.

 

Tiger Keelbacks are highly venomous, but they don’t produce their own toxins. Instead, they ingest and reuse toxins from the toads they eat. Once they eat the toad, they store its toxins in the nuchal glands and use them as a defensive mechanism. That’s one way to ensure you use every part of your prey!

 


#86. Common Mock Viper

  • Psammodynastes pulverulentus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach a maximum length of 65 cm (26 in).
  • Their coloring is brown with darker brown and white flecks.
  • The head is paddle-shaped and wider at the back.

 

Common Mock Vipers got their name by mimicking the most venomous snakes in Asia.

 

Its impressive mimicking abilities include changing the shape of its pupils to resemble a viper and mimicking the viper’s attacking technique. However, despite its excellent acting skills, this species is not venomous, and its bite is harmless, though painful, to humans.

 

Common Mock Vipers live in tropical wet forests. Even though they are primarily terrestrial snakes, they can climb trees and branches. Sometimes, they use this ability to hang over the water and wait for prey to wander by.

 


#87. Checkered Keelback

  • Fowlea piscator

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach up to 1.75 m (5.7 ft) in length.
  • Their scale patterns form a chessboard pattern with varying colors, including pale brown, whitish, and beige to dark brown and black.
  • The belly and throat are pale tan or white.

 

The Checkered Keelback is an aquatic snake in Asia found in freshwater lakes and rivers.

 

Since it’s not a venomous species, it’s adapted other abilities to help it stay safe. For example, as a defense mechanism, the snake mimics a cobra by raising its head and expanding its neck to intimidate predators. It can also self-amputate its tail to run away from a threat.

 

Although it’s non-venomous, its bite can cause pain and inflammation. A mild pain medication or anti-inflammatory drug will help, but it’s best to avoid a bite from this species!

 


#88. Oriental Ratsnake

  • Ptyas mucosa

Also known as Darash Indian Ratsnake or Dhaman.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1.5-1.95 m (5-6.3 ft), while the record is 3.7 m (12 ft) long.
  • Their color varies depending on habitat: pale browns in dry regions and nearly black in moist forest areas.
  • Regardless of the upper coloring, the belly is a pale yellow to cream.

 

Look for Oriental Ratsnakes in rice paddies, wetlands, farmland, and suburban areas. They usually prey upon small reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Interestingly, adults subdue their prey by sitting on it, using their body weight to weaken it.

 

Oriental Ratsnakes are wary, quick to flee, and fast-moving. If they can’t get away, adults make a growling sound and inflate their necks to mimic the posture of the King Cobra. This mimicry is likely a response to King Cobras preying on juvenile Oriental Ratsnakes.

 

Aside from cobras, these snakes don’t face any other animal predators. However, in some regions, humans hunt them for their skin and meat. Currently, there are efforts to regulate hunting and protect the population.

 


#89. Indian Cobra

  • Naja naja

Also known as Spectacled Cobra, Binocellate Cobra, or Asian Cobra.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1-1.5 meters (3.2-5 ft) long.
  • They are uniformly black on top, while the underside is light gray, tan, or brown. Horizontal black bars decorate the throat.
  • A pattern similar to a pair of glasses can be seen on the back of the neck, in the center of this species’ hood.

 

The Indian Cobra is a member of the “Big Four,” a group of snakes responsible for almost all deaths caused by snakes in Asia.¬†Its venom has a potent neurotoxin that leads to muscle paralysis and respiratory failure. It’s vital to be treated with the antivenom within 30 minutes to avoid the worst symptoms, so get treatment as soon as possible if you’re bitten.¬†

This species lives in varied habitats throughout its range. It can be found in forests, plains, agricultural lands, wetlands, and rocky terrain. It even inhabits heavily populated urban areas, villages, and city outskirts. 

 

Many people recognize Indian Cobras because of their use by Indian snake charmers. They also used to be used in snake fighting shows. Luckily, this practice has been outlawed.

 


#90. Buff Striped Keelback

  • ¬†Amphiesma stolatum

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 40-50 cm (16-20 in) long.
  • Their coloring is dark gray or black with bold, vertical, cream-colored stripes.
  • The undersides of the head and throat are a vibrant yellow.

 

The Buff-striped Keelback is a nonvenomous terrestrial snake that prefers wet lowland plains. This species isn’t dangerous to humans and rarely bites. But it will put on a show when threatened by flattening its head to form a cobra-like hood.

 

Look for Buff-striped Keelbacks during the day when they hunt for frogs, toads, earthworms, fish, and geckos. They have long rear teeth that easily capture slippery creatures and lock them in their jaws.

 

There are two morphs, both with the same apparent coloring and pattern. The only difference is the coloring between the scales, which is visible when the snake puffs out its body in a defensive move. The “typical” morph has silvery blue coloring between its scales (pictured above), while the second morph’s coloring is a vibrant red.

 


#91. Russell’s Viper

  • Daboia russelii

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 1.24 m (4 ft) long.
  • Their coloring is yellow, tan, or brown, with three vertical series of dark brown spots along the length of the body.
  • The belly is white, pink, or yellow, often with an uneven scattering of dark spots.
  • They have a flat triangular head, distinct from the neck, and a slightly raised snout.

 

The Russell’s Viper avoids dense forests and humid environments, such as marshes, swamps, and rainforests. Instead, look for this species in open, grassy areas, farmland, and forested plantations.¬†This species is also often found in highly urban areas and settlements in the countryside. They are attracted to human habitation because of the rodents in these areas.

When threatened, they tend to form a series of S-loops, raising the first third of their body, and produce a hiss that is louder than any other snake. If you encounter a Russell’s Viper in this stance, back away slowly to avoid its bite.

 

Russell’s Vipers inject venom through backward-pointed fangs, which burrow deeply into the flesh and deposit large amounts of toxin. The potent venom is enough to kill a human with one bite, so maintain a safe distance when observing this snake in Asia.¬†

 


#92. Indian Wolf Snake

  • Lycodon aulicus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 71 cm (28 in) in total length. Females can sometimes be larger than males.
  • Their coloring varies from light brown to black, with thin, light-colored bands along the body.
  • They have fangs in the upper jaw that they use for biting, even though they are nonvenomous.

 

The Indian Wolf Snake is strictly nocturnal, so you won’t have any luck finding this species during the day. It hunts frogs and lizards, specifically skinks, which comprise most of its diet. Its teeth are designed to pierce the smooth scales of skinks and hold on tightly to prevent them from escaping.

 

Even though it is nonvenomous, the Indian Wolf Snake defends itself aggressively by biting with its sharp fangs. It can leave deep, painful puncture wounds and lacerations. Another important defense of the Indian Wolf Snake is its ability to fake death. Individuals will lie completely motionless until the danger has passed.

 


#93. Burmese Python

  • Python bivittatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 5 m (16 ft) in length.
  • They are dark colored with brown blotches bordered by black down the length of their bodies.
  • Females are usually a little longer and heavier than males.

 

The Burmese Python is an excellent swimmer and climber, using its prehensile tail to grip branches as it moves through trees. They can remain underwater for up to 30 minutes but spend most of their time on land. Because of poaching, habitat destruction, and egg hunting for trade, Burmese Pythons are listed as a Vulnerable species by the IUCN in their native range.

Burmese Pythons are often sold as pets since they have attractive color morphs and an easygoing disposition.

 

Unfortunately, irresponsible pet owners have let Burmese Pythons escape, allowing this species to become invasive in the Florida Everglades.¬†The Everglades provide a perfect habitat for these invasive snakes, with plenty of water and flat land. However, there are no predators here to keep the population in check, and they’ve come close to wiping out several native species because of their enormous numbers.

 


#94. King Cobra

  • Ophiophagus hannah

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 3-3.6 m (10-12 ft) long, but the largest specimens can grow up to 5.4 m (18 ft).
  • Their coloring is olive green with black and white bands on the body.
  • They have a prominent hood that opens in a defensive stance and a rounded nose.

 

The King Cobra is the longest venomous snake in Asia.

Despite its size, this species is not considered particularly aggressive. It usually avoids humans and slinks off when disturbed. However, it is known to defend incubating eggs aggressively and strikes intruders rapidly. A single attack can deliver multiple bites.

Interestingly, the venom of hatchlings is as potent as the adults’. The babies are brightly marked, but these colors often fade as they mature. In addition, they¬†are often nervous and alert, which makes them highly aggressive if disturbed.¬†

 

Whether you encounter a juvenile or an adult, it’s best to give this dangerous snake a lot of space. Its bite results in excruciating pain, blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue, and even paralysis. If the bite victim doesn’t receive medical help, they can die from cardiovascular and respiratory failure within 30 minutes of the bite. Stay back!

 


#95. Golden Tree Snake

  • Chrysopelea ornata

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 115-130 cm (45-51 in) long.
  • Their coloring is green, with black cross-hatching and yellow, red, or gold accents.
  • They have slender bodies and flat heads with defined necks.

 

Golden Tree Snakes hunt for bats, lizards, and small rodents during the day. This species is an arboreal snake that lives mostly on tree branches. It has great gliding ability and is an excellent climber, easily moving from tree to tree.

 

It is mildly venomous and uses its venom to subdue its fast-moving prey. The snake stalks after the prey once it’s delivered a bite and seizes it by the neck, which is crushed in its strong jaws. Because their venom is mild, a bite from this species can be irritating and painful to humans but is not life-threatening.

 

Golden Tree Snakes have become increasingly available in the exotic pet trade in recent years. Unfortunately, many imported specimens have heavy parasite loads, and the stress of captivity often leads to untimely death. It’s much better to observe this species in the wild since it does poorly in captivity.

 


#96. Oriental Whipsnake

  • Ahaetulla prasina

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 1.8 m (6 ft) long.
  • This species has a slender body with a long, pointed snout.
  • Their coloring varies from light brown to dull yellow-green and fluorescent green. Some individuals have a checkered pattern of light and dark green scales.

 

The Oriental Whipsnake is one of the most colorful snakes in Asia!

Its impressive range of colors makes it difficult to recognize because individuals look so different from one another. However, the slender body and incredibly large, spade-shaped head should help with your identification.

 

This species is arboreal, so it usually lives in forest edge habitats such as parklands, rural agricultural areas, and wooded residential areas. It’s also a diurnal snake, so the best place to find one is sunbathing or hunting during the day. They eat small nesting birds, lizards, and tree frogs.

 

Oriental Whipsnakes are mildly venomous, but the toxins are not strong enough to hurt humans. If you see one, observe from a respectful distance, but you don’t need to rush away.

 


#97. Reticulated Python

  • Malayopython reticulatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1.5-6.5 m (5-21 ft) long. They weigh 1-75 kg (2-165 lbs).
  • Their coloring is a mix of brown, beige, black, gray, white, and yellow in a complex geometric pattern.
  • The back typically has a series of irregular diamond shapes flanked by smaller markings with a light center.

 

The Reticulated Python is the largest snake in Asia.

Look for this GIGANTIC species in woodlands, rainforests, and grasslands. It can also be found near rivers and lakes, as it is an excellent swimmer.

 

The Reticulated python is an ambush predator. It waits until the prey gets within striking distance, seizes it, and then constricts until the prey’s heartbeat stops. Its usual diet includes mammals and birds, but this species will snatch pets such as cats and dogs if they come across them.¬†

 

This mammoth species is one of only a few snakes that prey on humans. A fully-grown Reticulated Python can open its jaws wide enough to swallow a human, and its powerful body can strangle even large adults rather quickly.

 

Reticulated Pythons are popular zoo attractions, and many zoos claim to have the largest one. However, it’s notoriously difficult to accurately measure this species while it’s alive. Their weight and tremendous strength mean that straightening this species is virtually impossible. Nevertheless, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, a Reticulated Python in Kansas City, Missouri, named “Medusa,” is the largest snake in captivity. It measures an estimated 7.67 m (25 ft) long and weighs 158 kg (348 lb).

 


#98. Small-banded Kukri Snake

  • ¬†Oligodon fasciolatus

Also known as the Fasciolated Kukri Snake or the Small-banded Kukri Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 115 cm (45 in) long.
  • Their coloring is grey-brown or light brown to brownish-red with darker brown crossbands edged in black. The underside is creamy white.
  • This species has a thick, cylindrical body shape and a wide head.

 

Look for the terrestrial Small-banded Kukri Snake in Asia in forested plains and hillsides, agricultural sites, and village outskirts. Though they occasionally move about during the day, this snake is usually nocturnal.

 

Small-banded Kukri Snakes eat frogs, lizards, and turtle eggs. They will even eat roadkill if they come across some while hunting. However, unlike most snake species, they tend to tear their prey apart before eating it. As you might imagine, this snake has sharp teeth that are efficient for cutting open turtle eggs and ripping large prey apart.

 

Keep your distance if you find one of these snakes in the wild, as they’re highly aggressive if disturbed. The bites leave deep puncture wounds that are difficult to clean and may lead to infection. Even though they aren’t venomous, you should still seek medical help if bitten.

 


#99. Kramer’s Pit Viper

  • Trimeresurus macrops

Also known as the Large-eyed Pit Viper and Green Pit Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-71cm (19-28 in) long.
  • Their coloring is bright green, with a red line running over the tail. Their eyes are yellow or light brown and relatively large.
  • Males have a lighter green or blue line underneath their eyes, extending back toward the neck.

 

Kramer’s Pit Vipers are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time in trees. They prefer humid forests, particularly bamboo forests, often close to a water supply.

 

This viper is an ambush predator and usually hunts during the twilight and evening hours. It eats lizards, small birds, and rodents like mice. During the day, Kramer’s Pit Vipers rest among leaves where they are camouflaged thanks to their green color.

 

The venom of this species has hemotoxic properties, but it’s too mild to be dangerous to humans. However, bite¬†victims may experience localized swelling and pain that usually goes away within a couple of days.

 


#100. Indo-Chinese Rat Snake

  • Ptyas korros

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 108 cm (43 in) long.
  • The upper body is olive, orange, or brown, and the belly is yellow. The tail is yellow, edged with black.
  • This species has very large round eyes with round pupils.

 

The Indo-Chinese Rat Snake is active during the day when it hunts lizards, rodents, and sometimes birds. They can adapt to various habitats but prefer forested areas, grasslands, and plantations close to a water source. This species is common to find on walks and hikes because it’s relatively comfortable around people. Watch your step!

 

Indo-Chinese Rat Snakes are non-venomous, but their bite is still painful. Their first response to danger is to flee quickly. If that doesn’t work, they can expand their neck vertically, making them look taller and more imposing to predators. Finally, they will strike if forced into a confrontation.

 


#101. Painted Bronzeback

  • Dendrelaphis pictus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are¬† 60-100 cm (24-39 in) long.
  • Their coloring is brown on top and white below, with a black line, a yellow line, and bright blue markings on the sides.
  • This species is thin and long with a small head and large eyes.

 

The arboreal Painted Bronzeback lives mostly in forested areas near a water source. However, you may also spot one in artificial habitats such as parks and gardens. They rest and sleep high up in trees or bushes and only occasionally come to the ground to hunt. They often prey on lizards and frogs.

 

Painted Bronzebacks are non-venomous and shy; they will usually flee if disrupted. If handled, the snake will inflate its body and flatten its neck laterally to reveal its turquoise color,¬† then open its mouth and show off its bright red tongue. If these scare tactics don’t work, it will give a painful bite.

 


#102. Copperhead Rat Snake

  • Coelognathus radiatus

Also known as Radiated Ratsnake or Copper-headed Trinket Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 150-210 cm (59-83 in) long.
  • Their coloring is brown, copper, gray, or tan, with black stripes that fade toward the tail.
  • This species has a slender head with medium round eyes and round pupils.

 

Despite being non-venomous, this is one of the most aggressive snakes in Asia!

Copperhead Rat Snakes are so vicious they’re often used as training snakes for people looking to get into handling venomous species, especially cobras. They’re highly defensive, making them difficult to control.

 

If they find themselves threatened, they inflate the neck to show bluish skin, bend the anterior half of the body into loops and open the mouth widely. If handled, they have a very quick strike and painful bite. 

 

The Copperhead Rat Snake’s usual habitats are rocky, overgrown open spaces, grassy areas, shrublands, and jogging trails. They are mostly active during the day, so use caution if you go hiking or running in its range.

 


#103. Malayan Pit Viper

  • Calloselasma rhodostoma¬†

Also known as the Malayan Ground Snake, Malayan Moccasin, and Malayan Ground Pit Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 76-91 cm (30-36 in) long.
  • Their coloring is reddish, pale brown, or grayish with a thin dark brown vertebral stripe.
  • The scales around the mouth are pink or yellowish.

 

This snake is known in Asia for being bad-tempered and quick to strike.

 

Even though deaths are not common, the bite of the Malayan Pit Viper is excruciating, and the venom can cause tissue death around the bite wound. Many victims are left with dysfunctional or amputated limbs. Seek medical treatment immediately!

 

Malayan Pit Viper venom is useful for medical purposes despite its dangerous effects on the body. For example, Ancrod, an enzyme in this snake’s venom, can treat blood clots and helps prevent heart attack and stroke.

 


#104. Ussuri Mamushi

  • Gloydius ussuriensis

Also known as Ussuri Pit Viper or Ussuri Mamushi.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 37-64 cm (15-26 in) in length.
  • Their coloring is light brown-gray to black with large, dark, elliptical blotches on the back and sides.
  • The medium-sized eyes have vertical pupils.

 

Look for the Ussuri Mamushi near open grassland, forest edges, or marshes and paddy fields. This terrestrial pit viper spends most of its time on the ground. Since it’s nocturnal, your best chance to see one is while it hunts for frogs and mice at night.

 

However, this is one snake you probably want to avoid rather than go looking for it. It’s a particularly aggressive species and quick to bite if threatened. Its bites cause excruciating pain and produce internal organ hemorrhages and bleeding at bite sites. Victims typically need a hospital stay of up to a week to recover.

 


#105. 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 Asia.

The Brahminy Blindsnake, as its name suggests, is almost completely blind. It has small, translucent eyes that can detect light but not form images.¬†Although native to Asia, this species is naturalized worldwide. It’s transported 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 and live under logs, moist leaves, and stones. Look for them in suburban and even urban gardens and 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.

 


#106. Steppe Ratsnake

  • Elaphe dione

Also known as Dione’s Ratsnake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 able to live in various 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 Asia, the Steppe Ratsnake is non-venomous. Its docile nature makes it one of the most popular options for those looking for a pet snake.

 


#107. 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.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Asia.

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 in the wild! 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.

 


#108. Steppe Ribbon Racer

  • Psammophis lineolatus

Also known as Arrow Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 91 cm (36 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 snake is quick 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.

 


Africa:


#109. Puff Adder

  • Bitis arietans

Also known as the African Puff Adder and Common Puff Adder

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 Africa.

 

This ill-tempered native snake roams savannas, grasslands, and ‚Äď to the great misfortune of inhabitants ‚Äď 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!

 


#110. Cape House Snake

  • Boaedon capensis

Also known as the Brown House Snake and Common House Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 60 cm (24 in) on average, but they can grow up to 120 cm (47 in).¬†
  • They are various shades of yellow and brown, but some individuals are brick red.
  • You will notice two white lines on the head: one from the back of the eye to the tip of the mouth and the other from the nose to the back of the head.
  • The belly is creamy white, with stripes running along the body.¬†

 

The Cape House Snake is frequently seen in grassy and suburban areas, but it doesn’t stop there. As its name suggests, it has a habit of appearing in houses unannounced, especially at night!

Luckily, these snakes are harmless to humans. They slowly drag themselves around at night to catch unsuspecting rodents, lizards, and birds. Without venom to paralyze their prey, Cape House Snakes constrict their prey with strong muscles along their bodies.

 

The Cape House Snake is popular among exotic pet owners due to being low-maintenance. However, owners should be careful to keep these snakes separated. In captivity, they breed up to six times per year as opposed to two times in the wild.

 


#111. Boomslang

  • Dispholidus typus

Also known as Common African Tree Snake, Kivu Boomslang, and Kivu Large Green Tree Snake 

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Africa 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.

 


#112. Cape Cobra

  • Naja nivea

Also known as Yellow Cobra and Black Spitting Cobra

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Their typical length is between 120-140 cm (47-55 in), but some have been recorded to grow up to 188 cm (74 in).
  • Male Cape Cobras are slightly larger than females.
  • Their colors vary, ranging from bright yellow, dark brown, and reddish black to speckled.¬†
  • Juveniles have dark bands from the throat to the belly for their first two years.

 

The Cape Cobra is found along savannas, shrublands, and deserts. Although it’s mostly a terrestrial snake that hunts on land, this venomous species is surprisingly agile near water or atop trees.

Be extra careful if you find yourself within Cape Cobra territory. Among snakes in Africa, it’s considered one of the most dangerous because its venom targets the respiratory and nervous systems. Seek immediate treatment if bitten because victims have been reported to die within an hour.¬†

 

Like most snakes, the Cape Cobra prefers to flee than fight. However, it can strike without notice if it feels trapped. Be especially wary during this cobra’s mating period in September and October, when it’s more aggressive than usual.

 


#113. Spotted Bush Snake

  • Philothamnus semivariegatus

Also known as Spotted Green Snake and Variegated Green Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • They are typically 60-130 cm (24-51 in) long.
  • Spotted Bush Snakes have small heads, golden yellow eyes, and blue tongues.
  • The upper half of the body can be yellow, green, or blue, while the tail-end is brown. You might also find black spots or stripes.¬†

 

You might encounter the Spotted Bush Snake in Africa in forested areas or suburban gardens.

These beautifully-patterned snakes have keeled, or ridged, belly scales, allowing them to easily climb walls, trees, and bushes. Curiously, they’re fantastic swimmers as well!

Often misidentified as the more dangerous Green Mamba, Spotted Bush Snakes are non-venomous and harmless to humans. Instead, they’re patient hawk-eyed hunters, staying completely still before swiftly attacking lizards, geckos, and frogs in daylight.

 

Spotted Bush Snakes are alert, nervous animals and will immediately flee upon sensing danger. They don’t have established territories and are noted to travel far and wide in pursuit of their prey. So if¬†you find one astray in your home, leave a window open, and it’ll leave soon!

 


#114. Stripe-bellied Sand Snake

  • Psammophis subtaeniatus

Also known as Western Yellow-bellied Sand Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Their average length is 70-140 cm (28-55 in).
  • As its common name suggests, it has prominent stripes along the body from head to tail. The belly is yellow.
  • Look for a slender head and large eyes.¬†

 

Try not to blink, or you might miss seeing one of the fastest snakes in Africa!

Stripe-bellied Sand Snakes are swift enough to successfully hunt birds, lizards, rodents, and even other snakes. But thankfully, it poses no threat to humans.

The Stripe-bellied Sand Snake frequents arid habitats such as savannas and rocky hillsides. Here, it indulges in one of its favorite pastimes‚Äď basking in the sun! Consequently, it’s¬†most active during the hottest hours of the day.

 

Interestingly, they share a trait commonly seen in house geckos. If a predator catches its tail, the snake snaps it off and slithers away to nearby shrubs and trees for safety. The tail grows back, but it’s usually less colorful and shorter than before.

 


#115. Black Mamba

  • Dendroaspis polylepis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 200-450 cm (79-177 in).¬†
  • Its coloring is usually brown, olive green, or yellow. Black specimens with purplish scales are very rare.
  • Juveniles are usually gray or green, but they darken with age.

 

In small woodlands and rocky outcrops of sub-Saharan Africa lurks what many consider the world’s deadliest snake. The Black Mamba is named after the inky coloring of the inside of its mouth, something you should hope never to see! It likes to nest in burrows, so stay alert around suspicious holes.

The fatally potent venom of the Black Mamba targets the nervous system and the heart. Difficulty breathing can occur within 10 minutes. If you get bitten, it’s a race against time, so get medical attention immediately!¬†

 

In addition to their highly toxic venom, Black Mambas are terrifyingly fast. They can move 16 kph (10 mph) for short distances and even lunge at prey or attackers.

 

Contrary to popular belief, these snakes are rather shy and will choose to escape when given a chance. They raise their heads, spread their cobra-like neck hoods, and hiss loudly as a warning to would-be attackers. So the¬†best thing to do if you encounter the Black Mamba is to slowly back away, making sure it doesn’t feel cornered.

 


#116. Red-lipped Snake 

  • Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia

Also known as Common Herald Snake, White-lipped Herald Snake, Savanna White-lipped Snake, Black-templed Cat Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • This snake can grow to 70-100 cm (28-39 in) long.¬†
  • Coloration is usually olive green or gray on the back, sometimes speckled white. Its head is notably black.¬†
  • True to its name, it has a bright red (sometimes orange or yellow) upper lip most prominently displayed when it feels threatened.
  • The head is broad and triangular, while the tail is short.¬†

 

You’ll find Red-lipped Snakes near marshlands, bogs, and lowland forests in Africa.

They also gravitate towards the suburbs, so you might bump into one in your backyard after an evening rain. 

Most active during the night, these land snakes prey on amphibians such as toads and frogs. Their venom is mild, effective only on their chosen prey, and harmless to humans. They also have a mild and shy demeanor.

 

Don’t test your luck, though. Red-lipped snakes have a trigger-happy temper when provoked. So even though its venom isn’t dangerous, its bite is still painful!

 

Interestingly, the Red-lipped Snake got its other common name, the Herald Snake, from a newspaper story. It was first mentioned in the Eastern Cape’s Herald newspaper!


#117. Ball Python

  • Python regius

Also known as the Royal Python

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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. 

 


#118. 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. 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!

 


#119. Desert Horned Viper

  • Cerastes cerastes

Also known as Saharan Horned Viper, North African Horned Viper, Greater Cerastes

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Africa, 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.

 


#120. Egyptian Cobra

  • Naja haje

Also known as the Brown Cobra

Identifying Characteristics:

  • On average, these snakes are 140-259 cm (55-102 in) long.
  • The easiest way to recognize the Egyptian Cobra is through its broad, flattened head distinct from its long, ribbed neck, which expands to form a hood when it feels threatened.
  • Coloration varies geographically, but the most common is brown. However, some snakes are red, gray, or black.

 

The Egyptian Cobra is as deadly as it is famous. It can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where Pharaohs used it to symbolize their power to take life. Today, you’ll find this snake in Africa swimming in shallow waters or resting in abandoned animal burrows.¬†

The venom of the Egyptian Cobra has neurotoxins and cytotoxins that assault the nervous system. Respiratory failure and death may happen in the worst-case scenario. The venom is slow-acting, so seek treatment if you get bitten, even if you don’t immediately show symptoms.¬†

 

Foraging for food sometimes brings the Egyptian Cobra to human settlements. However, it will favor escaping if confronted. Its favorite meals are toads, but it will also go for lizards, birds, and other snakes.

 


#121. Algerian Whip Snake

  • Hemorrhois algirus

Also known as Algerian Grass Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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!

 


#122. Sahara Sand Viper

  • Cerastes vipera

Also known as Sahara Hornless Viper, Lesser Cerastes, Common Sand Viper, Egyptian Asp, Cleopatra’s Asp, Avicenna Viper

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Africa.

 

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!


#123. Gaboon Viper

  • Bitis gabonica

Also known as Gaboon Adder, Forest Puff Adder, Butterfly Adder, Whisper, Swampjack

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Their typical size is 80‚Äď205 cm (31-81 in) long.
  • Females are heavy and stout, while males have longer tails in proportion to their body length.
  • You’ll see faded, rectangular blotches down the snake’s back, with yellowish hourglass-shaped marks along the gaps.

 

The Gaboon Viper boasts the longest fangs of any snake in Africa!

Incredibly, they can grow up to 6 cm (2.3 in) long. This is one snake you definitely want to steer clear of!

Interestingly, its fangs aren’t the only unusual thing about this species. It also has the highest venom yield of any snake worldwide because of its hunting style. Unlike most vipers, it doesn’t release once it engages in a bite, injecting massive amounts of venom into its prey.

 

Watch your step because this nocturnal viper has near-perfect camouflage. It’s practically invisible amid fallen leaves on the forest floor and can remain motionless for hours hunting small birds and mammals.

 

The Gaboon Viper’s venom can be fatal in large doses or cause severe necrosis in the bite area. Fortunately, bite incidents are rare. These snakes are normally non-aggressive, sluggish, and are only encountered in dense rainforests.

 


#124. Rock Python

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach impressive lengths of 350-750 cm (138-295 in).
  • It has two noticeable lines from the nose to the back of the head.
  • Striped blotches decorate the body, colored olive, brown, or yellow.¬†
  • There is a distinct yellow inverted “V” marking under the eyes.

 

The Rock Python is the longest snake in Africa!

 

Found near bodies of water, this heavyweight python enjoys environments such as forests, savannas, swamps, and semi-deserts.

Range map of both Rock Python subspecies.

Rock Pythons may be non-venomous, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security. This species is strong enough to kill a human with its powerful constriction. Additionally, they routinely swallow antelopes, monkeys, and monitor lizards whole.

 

Unlike most snakes, African Rock Pythons are protective mothers. They fiercely guard their nest after laying eggs, protecting their young from predators and lashing out at unsuspecting passersby. They’re even known to be territorial of a nest after the eggs have hatched!

 


#125. Rhinoceros Viper

  • Bitis nasicornis

Also known as Butterfly Viper, Rhinoceros Horned Viper, River Jack, Horned Puff Adder

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to 60-120 cm (24-47 in).
  • You can easily identify this viper by its striking geometric markings in shades of blue, green, yellow, and black. These patterns can be oblong or diamond in shape.
  • The colors appear duller after shedding its skin, allowing silt to cover the rough scales.

 

The Rhinoceros Viper is named for its elongated scales on top of its nose, which resemble rhinoceros horns. It prefers forested and marshy areas and is mostly terrestrial. However, it’s also excellent at climbing trees and swimming in shallow bodies of water.

If patience is your virtue, then you might appreciate this ambush predator. Most of the Rhinoceros Viper’s life is spent lying motionless, waiting for prey to pass by. It feeds on small mammals in forests or amphibians and fish in wetlands.

 

This snake’s venom is incredibly potent and lethal to humans. The poison attacks cell tissue and blood vessels, leading to internal bleeding. Luckily, the Rhinoceros Viper has a calm disposition and you will be warned with a prolonged hiss if you come close, which means you NEED to back away slowly.

 


#126. Olive Whip Snake

  • Psammophis mossambicus¬†

Also known as Olive Grass Snake, Olive Sand Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 100-180 cm long (39-71 in) on average.
  • It’s mostly olive-brown, but some specimens are black.¬†
  • There are dark-edged scales along the neck and body. The underside is yellow.

 

This snake in Africa is a common resident of grasslands and swamplands.

You might find the Olive Whip Snake prowling near water sources during the day, so keep a keen eye out! Be alert around trees and shrubs, too, because it’s an adept climber.

The Olive Grass Snake is not nearly as venomous as the Black Mamba, but it often gets mistaken for one. This is due to its size and tendency to lift its forebody off the ground to an impressive height. Its food sources are also similar to the Black Mamba: lizards, rodents, frogs, and fellow venomous snakes.

 

Despite its weight, the Olive Grass Snake moves incredibly fast. And while it prefers a speedy retreat when sensing danger, it may choose to lunge and bite. Fortunately, its venom is mild for humans. 

 


#127. Blanding’s Tree Snake

  • Toxicodryas blandingii

Also known as Blanding’s Cat Snake, Black and Yellow Tree Snake, Brown Tree Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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.

 


#128. Emerald Snake

  • Hapsidophrys smaragdinus

Also known as Emerald Tree Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These snakes are 76-122 cm (30-48 in).
  • Their coloring is emerald green, with some aqua blue scales.
  • The short head is strongly arched between the eyes.¬†

 

As an arboreal species, the Emerald Snake in Africa spends most of its life climbing, hunting, and traveling from tree to tree. Its deep green camouflage and slender vine-like appearance make it nearly invisible among vines and foliage! Consequently, you’ll have to look hard if you want to catch it in action.

Emerald Snakes have a particularly interesting defense mechanism that starts with inflating the skin of its neck. Once inflated, a pattern of black skin, light blue spots, and green scales are revealed, startling and confusing the predator. This display gives the Emerald Snake a chance to retreat into the tangle of leaves and branches quickly.

 

Emerald Snakes are non-venomous and non-aggressive, but their bites may cause rashes and itchiness. Because of their docile nature and bright coloring, they are sometimes sold as pets, living 10-15 years in captivity.

 


#129. Forest Cobra 

  • Naja melanoleuca

Also known as Central African Forest Cobra, Black Cobra, Black and White-lipped Cobra

  • A. Morph #1 (for forests): Glossy black body with broad cross-bars and blotches. There are black and white bars on the lips. The underside is white.
  • B. Morph #2 (for savannas): The body has black and yellow bands with a black tail. The head, lips, and throat are yellow.
  • C. Morph #3 (for coastal plains): Black body fades to brown towards the tail. The belly is creamy yellow and heavily speckled. Some specimens are completely black.

 

If you want to avoid this snake in Africa, don’t go peeking around holes in the ground!

This DANGEROUS venomous species likes to nest in burrows. The Forest Cobra is the largest cobra species in the world, attaining lengths of 140-320 cm (55-126 in), and prefers living in wet woods. However, it adapts easily to drier environments as long as there’s access to a body of water.

These snakes eat a wide variety of food. Being semi-aquatic, they sometimes enjoy hunting for fish and amphibians. But they also spend time hunting rodents, lizards, and other snakes on land. However, tree-dwellers aren’t safe either. The Forest cobra will nimbly climb trees to eat insects and bird eggs.¬†

 

A bite from a Forest Cobra delivers large quantities of highly potent venom, capable of killing a human within 30 minutes. Therefore, extreme caution is advised in the presence of this highly aggressive and dangerous snake.

 


#130. 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 Africa.

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.

 


#131. Brown Forest Cobra

  • Naja subfulva

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 200-275 cm (79-108 in) long on average.
  • They are mostly brownish yellow on the head, darkening to pitch black on the tail. There are light-colored spots all over the body.
  • Other notable characteristics are black stripes under the eyes and a band of small black dots near the throat.¬†

 

Brown Forest Cobras are mostly limited to savanna woodlands in Africa. This highly alert and intelligent cobra leaves its lair when the sun is out. If it’s not busy basking in the heat, it goes hunting for its usual lunch: birds and small mammals.

Thankfully, snakebite incidents are rare because Brown Forest Cobras live far away from human civilization. Even if you encounter them, their first instinct is to flee. Nonetheless, stay back as their venom can cause tissue damage, difficulty breathing, and even death if left untreated.

 


#132. 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 Africa 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.


#133. Horned Adder

  • Bitis caudalis

Also known as Horned Puff Adder, Horned Viper, Sidewinding Adder, Common Single-horned Adder

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 30-51 cm (12-20 in) long.
  • Body coloration appears in shades of brown, gray, yellow, and red.
  • Males have more vibrant colors, while females are significantly larger.

 

Horned Adders are one of the smallest snakes in Africa, but they are fierce when disturbed.

 

This species owes its common name to the prominent horn-like scale above each eye. Horned Adders inhabit scrublands and semi-deserts because their repetitive sidewinding motion is efficient in sandy terrain.

As an ambush predator, this adder will bury itself into the sand just deep enough for its eyes to poke out. Then, it uses its black-tipped tail to lure prey in the form of geckos, rodents, and birds. Horned Adders are most active at dusk. In the daytime, they enjoy the shade of rocks and bushes.

 

The venom, containing mild cytotoxins, has been known to cause serious pain and skin ulcers. Listen carefully for angry hisses as you might accidentally cross paths with a Horned Adder already in striking position!

 


#134. Twig Snake

  • Thelotornis capensis

Also known as Cape Twig Snake, Savanna Vine Snake, Southern Bird Snake, Cape Twig Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These are slender snakes with very long tails, measuring 100-168 cm (39-66 in) in total length.
  • Look for a flattened bluish-green head, keyhole-shaped pupils, large black fangs, and a reddish-black tongue.
  • Body coloration is brown or gray with blotches.

 

As the name suggests, you might mistake this snake in Africa for a twig!

 

Twig Snakes hang perfectly still on branches of low shrubs, waiting for passing chameleons, frogs, and birds. They are patient predators and can maintain this posture for hours. When disturbed, they inflate their necks like a balloon as a scare tactic.

Take great care when trekking through coastal forests and woodlands. Its coloration allows it to blend in with the bark and branches of trees. Although it’s unassuming, the Twig Snake is venomous and very dangerous.

 

The Twig Snake’s venom is a slow-acting poison that can cause profuse bleeding and hemorrhage. One German herpetologist named Robert Mertens died 18 days after being bitten by his pet Twig Snake. So, get quick medical treatment for a bite even if you don’t have immediate symptoms.

 


#135. Mole Snake

  • Pseudaspis cana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 207 cm (81 in) long.
  • Colors are commonly gray, red, or black on the body. The belly is white, speckled with dark spots.
  • Juveniles are light brown with white zig-zags or spots.¬†
  • They use their small heads, pointed snouts, and narrow necks to hunt underground.

 

Look for Mole Snakes in Africa in scrublands and mountainous regions.

You are most likely to find one near rodent burrows where it spends the day foraging for its next meal. In fact, this species was named after the Golden Moles it loves to feast on.

A curious quirk of this muscular snake is that it’s viviparous. So instead of laying eggs as most reptiles do, the Mole Snake will give birth to live babies. Incredibly, a single mole snake can give birth to up to 95 babies at once!

 

Mole Snakes may be non-venomous, but you should still be careful if handling one. With strong, very sharp teeth, they can inflict deep wounds that need stitches. In addition, they’re extremely aggressive. They are often mistaken for Cape Cobras because of their short tempers and notorious ferocity.

 


#136. Common Slug-Eater

  • Duberria lutrix

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to only about 40 cm (16 in).¬†
  • Typically, they have black-striped green or brown backs, white and yellow bellies, and gray sides.¬†

 

Common Slug-Eaters are non-venomous snakes endemic to the damp grasslands of Southern Africa. True to their name, they feed on a specialized diet of snails and slugs. They have a calm demeanor, and they pose no danger to humans.

This snake is known to hunt its prey down by following slime trails. Once it locates a meal, it quickly swallows the soft body before the snail or slug can secrete foul, defensive mucus. In the case of snails, Common Slug-eaters are known to bash the hard shell against a rock to break it open.


#136. Sand Boa

  • Eryx jaculus

sand boa

Also known as the Javelin Sand Boa.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • It can grow as large as 80¬†cm (31 in).
  • The head has no distinction from the body. A dark stripe runs from the eyes to the neck.
  • Coloration is cream, beige, and yellow to bright orange. Irregular dark blotches line the back, and small spots cover the sides.

 

These African snakes are not typically found in sandy areas despite their name. Instead, the best places for them are savanna-like habitats with loam soil or rocky slopes (if there is enough loose soil).

Sand Boa Range Map

sand boa range map

Credit: RepFocus

 

Sand Boas are hard to see 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! And as the Greeks conquered new territories, the range of Sand Boas also increased. ūüôā


Europe:


#137. Smooth Snake

  • Coronella austriaca

smooth snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow between 60 cm – 75 cm (23.5 – 29.5 inches) long.
  • On the top of the head is a dark marking which is often in the shape of a crown.
  • Usually dark brown or gray in color. Two rows of indistinct dark spots run down its back.
  • As the name suggests, the scales of Smooth Snakes are very smooth and flat to the touch.

 

These small and slender snakes can be hard to find in Europe because they are secretive.

 

Even when Smooth Snakes bask in the sun, they intertwine amongst plants to keep camouflaged. They are sometimes found after rain showers when individuals must leave their hiding places to escape the water and bask more openly.

Smooth Snake Range Map

Their primary prey is other reptiles, such as small lizards. But they will eat small mammals and birds occasionally. When threatened, they try to remain motionless and undetected, but Smooth Snakes won’t hesitate to bite when captured.

 

Interestingly, Smooth Snakes are ovoviviparous. This term means that the eggs are incubated internally, and they give birth to live young!

 


#138. Adder

  • Vipera berus

adder

Also known as the Common European Adder / Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults average around 55 cm (22 in) long.
  • Color varies and can be brown, red, or light grey with a zigzag stripe on the back. But some individuals are entirely black.
  • The head is fairly large and distinct and has a distinctive dark V or X on the back.

 

Despite being venomous, Adders are not considered an incredibly dangerous snake in Europe.

 

Luckily, they are not very aggressive and rarely bite unless stepped on, picked up, or provoked. If you are bitten, their venom is quite painful and causes swelling, internal hemorrhaging, and necrosis. While the venom can be lethal, deaths are incredibly rare.

Adder Range Map

Adders are found in many habitats, such as forest clearings, marshlands, heathlands, pastures with hedgerows, and even alpine meadows in the Alps. They mostly eat small mammals, but lizards, birds, and frogs are taken when available.

 

Because of their large distribution and a broad range of habitats, the population of Adders is currently not threatened. But their numbers are decreasing slightly due to habitat loss for agriculture and collecting them for the pet trade and venom extraction.

 


#139. Grass Snake

  • Natrix natrix

grass snake

Also commonly called the Ringed Snake or Water Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can grow up to 150 cm (59 inches) long.
  • Coloration is usually olive-green, brown, or greyish.
  • 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 Europe!

 

Being strong swimmers, look for them near wet areas, such as ponds, lakes, streams, ditches, and marshes. But it’s not surprising to find a Grass Snake in drier habitats, such as backyard gardens, open woodlands, and grasslands.

Grass Snake Range Map

grass snake range map

They are NOT venomous and rarely bite when captured or threatened. Instead, you can expect them to hiss and spray a smelly substance 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 a cobra, where they raise the front of their body and flatten their heads to resemble a hood!

 

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 without the use of constriction. 

 


#140. Aesculapian Snake

  • Zamenis longissimus

aescuplupian snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A long and slender snake that grows up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) in length.
  • It is typically a dark bronze color with very smooth scales, which give it a metallic sheen. But adults can also be olive-yellow, brownish-green, or almost black.
  • White freckles appear on the body of many individuals.

 

The best place to look for Aesculapian Snakes in Europe is humid forests.

 

Make sure to look up because they are excellent climbers, having no problem ascending vertical tree trunks without branches. They don’t try to avoid humans, and they are sometimes found in sheds, gardens, and stonewalls.

Aesculapian Snake Range Map

Their main food source comes from small rodents, but they will eat birds and their eggs when given the chance. Being constrictors, they suffocate their prey before consuming it.

 

Despite being fairly common, Aescuplapian Snakes are rarely seen due to their secretive nature. They blend in well with their surroundings, in addition to spending lots of their time in tree canopies. When they are found, they first try to sneak away to hide instead of standing their ground aggressively like other types of snakes.

 


#141. Dice Snake

  • Natrix tessellata

dice snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Their typical size is 100 – 130 cm (39‚Äď51 in) long.
  • Their color varies from greyish green to brownish or almost black, with dark spots on the back.

 

To find this snake in Europe, it’s best to look in the water!

 

In fact, the Dice Snake is such a great swimmer and spends so much time in aquatic habitats, it’s also commonly called the Tessellated Water Snake. In addition, its primary food is fish, although amphibians are sometimes consumed too.

Dice Snake Range Map

dice snake range map

 

If you ever see underneath a Dice 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 name!

 


#142. Barred Grass Snake

  • Natrix helvetica

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Dark grey-green upper body with characteristic black barring along the flanks.
  • A distinctive yellow and black collar around the neck.
  • It can grow over a meter (3.3 feet) in length.

 

Look for this snake in Europe living near water!

 

Barred Grass Snakes are active when searching for food, using their sight and sense of smell to find their prey, which is primarily frogs, toads, and salamanders. These amphibians are eaten live without the aid of constriction.

Barred Grass Snake Range Map

barred grass snake range map

While these common snakes are not venomous and rarely bite, I would caution against picking one up as they have some interesting defense mechanisms. First, you may smell a nasty garlic odor from a fluid released through their anus. Or you may notice blood secreting out of their mouth and nose. And if that’s not enough, then the individual snake may regurgitate what they have been eating onto you. Hissing and striking without opening their mouth are also common.

 

Until a few years ago, the Barred Grass Snake (Natrix helvetica) was considered the same species as the Common Grass Snake (Natrix natrix), but a more in-depth study concluded there are enough differences to be considered separate species. Here is how to tell them apart:

  • Common Grass Snakes have a bright yellow collar, which Barred Grass Snakes lack.
  • Barred Grass Snakes are more grey than their olive green cousin.

 


#143. Green Whip Snake

  • Hierophis viridiflavus

green whip snake

Also called the Western Whip Snake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A slender snake with a small but well-defined head.
  • They are greenish-yellow with heavy, irregular bands of dark green or black, which fade as you move towards the back.
  • Maximum size is around 150 cm (59 in).

 

Due to their adaptability, this snake is common in Europe!

 

You can find Green Whip Snakes in a wide variety of habitats, including trees, since they are great climbers. In addition, they will eat almost anything, including reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and small birds and eggs.

Green Whip Snake Range Map

green whip snake range map

When threatened, these snakes can become quite aggressive. Be careful as they will try to strike you repeatedly. Luckily, they are not venomous, but they do bite fairly hard. ūüôā

 


#144. Viperine Snake

  • Natrix maura

viperine snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Colors range between gray, brown, or reddish.
  • Down its back, look for a black, zig-zag stripe. Along the sides are black circles.
  • Adults can grow to 85 cm (33.5 in).

 

Despite its name, Viperine Snakes are NOT venomous. But they do share many behavioral similarities with Adders (which ARE venomous), along with looking alike, which is how they got their name.

Viperine Snake Range Map

viperine snake range map

To find this snake in Europe, you must head to an aquatic habitat as they are water snakes. They are strong swimmers and primarily hunt and eat fish and frogs.

 

While Viperine Snakes are fairly common, they are sensitive to changes and pollution in their wetland habitats. In addition, they are often killed by people who mistake them for being a venomous viper.

 


#145. Asp Viper

  • Vipera aspis

asp viper

Other common names include European Asp, European Viper, Black Asp, Central Italian Asp, and Southern Italian Asp.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Fairly small, as adults only average a length of 60-65 cm (23.5 – 25.5 inches).
  • The head is broad, triangular, and distinct from the neck. The tip of the snout is slightly upturned.
  • Colors range from light grey to brown to various shades of orange. Some individuals are melanistic and completely black!
  • They have darker marks on their back, which form an irregular zig-zag pattern.

 

Be careful if you find this snake in Europe, as it is VENOMOUS.

 

Bites from the Asp Viper are both painful and dangerous, with about 4% of untreated bites being fatal. If bitten, go to the hospital immediately, as the venom has both coagulant and anticoagulant effects. Severe hemorrhagic necrosis occurs after a few hours, along with impaired vision due to the degradation of blood vessels and blood around the eyes.

Asp Viper Range Map

asp viper range map

According to the IUCN Red List, populations of the Asp Viper are stable, and it’s not currently threatened. These snakes live in a broad range of habitats and have a wide distribution. In general, look for them in areas with plenty of sun, vegetation for cover, and dry soil.

 

While we will never know for sure, many people think that the Asp Viper was the type of snake that bit and killed the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra!

 


#146. Western Montpellier Snake

  • Malpolon monspessulanus

western montpillier snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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, grey, or olive, often followed by a bluish or dark grey “saddle” on the back.

 

Despite being venomous, these snakes are not considered a threat to humans in Europe.

 

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. In fact, 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.

 


#147. Ladder Snake

  • Zamenis scalaris

ladder snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A medium-sized snake that reaches up to 160 cm long (63 in).
  • Color ranges from yellowish to dark brown, with two darker stripes running down the length of the body from neck to tail.
  • Pointed snout. Dark eyes.

 

Naturally, Ladder Snakes are fairly abundant in Europe in areas with scrubby, brushy cover with lots of sunshine. They have adapted well to human environments and are often seen living in orchards, vineyards, and overgrown stone walls. Look for them hiding inside rodent burrows, hollow trees, or piles of stones.

Ladder Snake Range Map

Being a “rat snake,” most of their diet comprises small mammals, such as mice, rabbits, and shrews. Although they also prey on birds and are known to climb to search for nests.

 

When threatened, Ladder Snakes are aggressive and become very defensive. You can expect them to hiss and lunge forward with their mouths open. If you decide to continue to pick them up, expect them to bite repeatedly, in addition to releasing a smelly odor on you.

 


#148. Horseshoe Whip Snake

  • Hemorrhois hippocrepis

horseshoe whip snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Usually grows to around 160 cm (62 in) in length.
  • Yellow, beige, olive, or grey. They get darker with age.
  • A row of round dark spots on the back. Smaller dark patches on each side.
  • Dark horseshoe-shaped marking on the neck and a dark band between the eyes.

 

Look for Horseshoe Whip Snakes in southwest Europe in dry, rocky, sunny areas with open vegetation. They are also sometimes found in urban areas and rural gardens, especially near stone walls.

Horseshoe Whip Snake Range Map

These snakes are incredibly agile and fast-moving. So it should be no surprise that they actively hunt their prey, which includes small mammals, lizards, birds, and invertebrates.

 

Horseshoe Whip Snakes are shy and usually run away quickly at the first sign of danger. This wariness, combined with their fast speed, means getting a good look at one can be hard. If they do become cornered and can’t escape, they will flatten their head, hiss loudly, and bite readily!

 


#149. Four-lined Snake

  • Elaphe quatuorlineata

four lined snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • As the name suggests, they have four dark stripes running along a yellowish brown body.
  • A black line runs from the corner of the eye.
  • Adults can reach lengths of 180 cm (5 ft 11 in).

 

Four-lined Snakes are one of the largest snakes found in Europe!

 

Not only are they long, but they are also heavy, as individuals can weigh anywhere between 250 to 1,400 g (0.6 to 3.1 lb). The best places to find them are areas with lots of vegetation, such as meadows, edges of deciduous forests, and scrubby areas around swamps and lakes. Four-lined Snakes are also excellent climbers, so make sure to look up!

Four-lined Snake Range Map

Despite their large size, these slow-moving snakes are normally calm. They rarely bite, even when handled.

 


#150. Nose-horned Viper

  • Vipera ammodytes

nose viper

Also commonly called Horned Viper, Long-nosed Viper, and Sand Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The average total length is 50‚Äď70 cm (19.5‚Äď27.5 in), but some individuals grow larger.
  • Colors vary (silver-grey, beige, red, brown, dark grey), but there is almost always a dark zigzag on the back.
  • Often a row of round dots on the sides.

 

This species is the most dangerous snake in Europe!

 

First, their venom is highly toxic, with both neurotoxic and cytotoxic components that cause swelling and severe pain. In addition, they have LONG fangs (~13mm / .5 in) to deliver their potentially lethal venom. Luckily, they are not easily agitated and typically only bite when handled or accidentally stepped on.

Nose-horned Viper Range Map

As the name suggests, Nose-horned Vipers have a distinctive single “horn” on the snout. This feature makes them easy to identify. Look for them near rocks and stones, including stone walls, that provide some cover from vegetation.

 

Interestingly, unlike most snakes, males and females look slightly different. First, females usually have more brownish or reddish shades, with males being more greyish. Second, females normally lack the dark blotch or V marking on the back of the head that the males have.

 


#151. Leopard Snake

  • Zamenis situla

leopard snake

Also commonly called the European Ratsnake.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Morph #1: Gray or tan with a series of reddish or brown blotches down the back, which are outlined in black (pictured above).
  • Morph #2: Longitudinal lines decorate the back instead of blotches.
  • There is usually a Y-shaped marking on the back of the head. Also, a black streak from the corner of the mouth extends towards the edge of the eye.
  • Typically grows to around 90 cm (35.5 in) in length, but some individuals grow even larger.

 

Look for Leopard Snakes in fairly dry, stony habitats. It’s also common for them to live near human-altered environments, such as vineyards and olive groves that include stone walls or old ruins. To find one of these snakes, you will probably need to uncover them from underneath natural and man-made objects.

Leopard Snake Range Map

Credit: RepFocus

 

As their other name suggests (European Ratsnake), mice form a major part of their diet. Before consuming, they kill their prey using constriction.

 

Leopard Snakes are typically calm. They may rattle their tail at you when they feel threatened, but they don’t bite often.

 


#152. Caspian Whipsnake

  • Dolichophis caspius

caspian whip snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A large, strong snake that grows up to 200 cm / 79 in.
  • They are silver-grey to beige-brown.
  • Poorly defined, longitudinal lines along the body.

 

This species is the LONGEST snake in Europe!

 

While the average Caspian Whipsnake grows to around 140-160 cm  (55-63 in), the record individual was around 250 cm (98 in) in length! Look for them during the day in a wide variety of warm and sunny habitats.

 

Not only are they long, but Caspian Whipsnakes are also fast and actively hunt their prey, which includes small mammals, birds, and reptiles. In addition, they are valued by farmers as natural pest control for their ability to eat large numbers of rodents.

 

Luckily, these snakes are not venomous because they are VERY aggressive. When they feel threatened, they raise their body while hissing loudly, and they may even jump toward you. And be careful if you handle one because they will bite quickly and readily.

 


#153. Balkan Whip Snake

  • Hierophis gemonensis

balkan whip snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A long, slender snake that is usually under a meter long.
  • Color ranges from silver-grey to beige-brown.
  • The head has dark patches. There is often a light streak connecting the eyes.

 

Balkan Whip Snakes live in Europe in dry, stony habitats that have Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation. Rural gardens and pastures are also great places to find these snakes.

 

Balkan Whip Snakes are diurnal and incredibly fast and agile! They mainly prey on small mammals and lizards. In their range, they are common and seen often.

 

I wouldn’t recommend handling them, as they can be aggressive when threatened and will bite persistently if needed.

 


#154. Dahl’s Whip Snake

  • Platyceps najadum

dahls whip snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • A VERY slender snake that grows up to 120 cm / 47 in long.
  • The head and first quarter of the body are usually grey with round, black circles on the sides that decrease in size.
  • The rest of the body is a uniform beige-brown.

 

Dahl’s Whip Snake can be found in Europe in dry, stony habitats with low vegetation.

 

They are also seen in cultivated areas, such as olive groves and vineyards, especially if they have stone walls. These snakes are extremely fast and actively hunt lizards, both on the ground and on walls. The best time to find one is during the day, except when it gets very hot, then they become more active in the morning or evening.

 

Interestingly, Dahl’s Whip Snakes are not considered a venomous species because they don’t have fangs. BUT, if you are bitten, you may experience poisoning symptoms if the skin is penetrated and their saliva has time to work its way into the wound! Humans typically experience swelling near the bite, but some individuals also have lymph node swelling.

 


#155. Cat Snake

  • Telescopus fallax

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Fairly slender and usually less than 100 cm (39 in) in length. The eyes have vertical pupils.
  • Their body is beige or gray with large dark bars or blotches on their back and smaller ones on the sides.
  • A dark collar often extends to the middle of the head.

 

Cat Snakes live in warm rocky areas, such as stone steppes and rocky slopes. But you may also find them in open deciduous forests, backyard gardens, orchards, or other habitats near humans, especially if there is a stone wall available to hide inside.

 

It’s fairly hard to see a Cat Snake in Europe because they rarely show themselves during the day. Instead, they are almost completely nocturnal, which is when they hunt for lizards and geckos while they sleep. Your best chance of finding one is turning over stones during spring or autumn.

Cat Snake Range Map

Credit: RepFocus

 

Cat Snakes are venomous, but luckily there have been no cases of one of them injecting venom into a human. They have rear fangs, which make it very hard to envenomate a person. In addition, the venom has low toxicity unlikely to harm more than small prey. Lastly, they are calm snakes and normally don’t bite or hiss, even when handled.


South America:


#156. Garden Tree Boa

  • Corallus hortulana

Also known as Amazon Tree Boa, Macabrel, Common Tree Boa

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 53-188 cm (21-74 in), but they can grow up to 220 cm (87 in).
  • They are famous for being polymorphic. Some snakes have patternless bodies, while others are marked with bands, chevrons, and speckles everywhere.
  • Morph #1¬†(“Colored” morph): Bright colors such as red, orange, and yellow
  • Morph #2¬†(“Garden” morph): Lackluster tones such as black, gray, brown, or olive

 

Look for this snake in South America in humid jungles, dry savannas, and riversides.

As you can probably tell from its name, the Garden Tree Boa feels most at home in the protection of trees. Here, it hunts birds, lizards, frogs, and small mammals.

 

Unlike most other reptiles, female Garden Tree Boas give birth to live young. These babies are impressively self-sufficient! They can fend for themselves immediately after being born. After only three years, they’re fully grown and ready to repeat the reproduction cycle.

 

Although Garden Tree Boas are non-venomous, you may want to keep your hands off. They are known to bite at the slightest provocation, and a bite can really hurt! This makes them more suited for experienced snake keepers, but there’s plenty of time to learn; they live for up to 20 years in captivity.

 


#157. Common Blunt-headed Snake

  • Imantodes cenchoa

Also known as Fiddle-string Snake, Neotropical Blunthead Treesnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • They grow to be 80-150 cm (31-59 in).
  • They have slender bodies, narrow necks, and large heads.
  • Brown and black patches alternate along the body.

 

This small, cartoonish snake slithers among low vegetation in rainforests in South America. If you look closely, you’ll notice its bizarre set of eyes! They are comically large with vertical slits for pupils. This gives the Common Blunt-headed Snake better vision than other snakes.

 

Wide awake at night, they feed on sleeping lizards, amphibians, and reptile eggs. When the sun comes out, you might find Common Blunt-headed Snakes coiled and resting on vines and bushes. They like cool, wet environments and are more active in the rainy seasons.

 

Common Blunt-headed Snakes have mild venom and docile natures. Therefore, they pose no danger to humans. However, they don’t do well in captivity, so it’s better to observe this snake in the wild instead of keeping one as a pet.

 


#158. Fer-de-lance

  • ¬†Bothrops atrox

Also known as Common Lancehead, Barba Amarilla

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can grow 75-125 cm (30-49 in) in length.
  • Look for a series of trapezoids across the body.
  • Coloration is usually olive, gray, or brown. They have light-colored bellies, commonly white or cream.
  • These snakes have golden irises and black tongues.

The Fer-de-lance is responsible for most of the snake bites in South America.

So, it’s best to tread carefully if you find yourself in the Amazon region. While these snakes live primarily in dense forests, they also wander into coffee plantations when hunting.

 

As with other pit vipers, the Fer-de-lance has heat sensors below its eyes to track prey. They easily devour smaller prey like frogs and tarantulas. However, when it comes to larger prey, these snakes bite and then let go. The venom eventually kills the animal while the lancehead tracks it down again.

 

This snake isn’t only dangerous to its prey, either. A bite from the Common Lancehead targets the circulatory system and can cause serious internal bleeding to humans. Interestingly, the younger snakes have faster-acting venom. Either way, you should seek medical attention quickly if you get bitten by this aggressive species.

 


#159. Green Anaconda

  • Eunectes murinus

Also known as Giant Anaconda, Common Anaconda, Common Water Boa, Water Kamudi, Sucuri

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Green Anacondas can grow¬†500 cm (16.4 ft) long and weigh about 30-70 kg (66-154 lbs).
  • Females are much larger than males.
  • Their bodies are olive green with dark blotches, but some are brown and yellow.
  • The eyes are on top of their heads to help them look around while submerged.

 

The Green Anaconda is the largest, heaviest snake in South America and worldwide!

Adults can grow as long as a small school bus when stretched from head to tail. You can find them submerged in swamps or hidden deep in rainforests. 

With their sheer size, Green Anacondas can ambush large animals that go for a drink near the water’s edge. Deer, capybaras, or even jaguars can fall victim to this relentless predator! Their hunting style is perfectly designed to take down a large meal.

 

First, these snakes latch onto prey with a bite from their large, sharp fangs. Then they coil themselves around their prey to make escape impossible. Finally, they slowly swallow their meal whole. Green Anacondas take time to digest such a large meal, surviving for weeks without eating again. Though they are large enough to eat humans, there are no official reports of such cases. What a relief! ūüôā

 


#160. Yellow Anaconda

  • Eunectes notaeus

Also known as Paraguayan Anaconda, Southern Anaconda

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow 330-440 cm (130-173 in) long.
  • Females are larger than males.
  • From head to tail, they are colored tan or yellow with dark streaks and overlapping blotches.

 

Yellow Anacondas are one of the largest snakes in South America.

Be careful around river banks and marshlands! These huge reptiles like to loiter around wet areas in wait for passing prey. Additionally, their mottled coloring makes them almost impossible to see. They have a taste for deer, peccaries, and wading birds that they ambush from under water.

 

In the mating season, females release pheromones, attracting many suitors to compete for the chance to breed. The male snakes fight to prove their strength, and the strongest and largest snake wins the right to breed with the female. Yellow Anacondas give birth to live young, having up to 80 live babies at once!

 

Though non-venomous and non-aggressive, this species is noted for being unpredictable. There are accounts of captive snakes attacking their handlers. Therefore, it’s best to keep your distance if you find one in the wild!

 


#161. Western Rainbow Boa

  • Epicrates cenchria

Also known as the Slender Boa

Identifying Characteristics:

  • They are usually 120-180 cm (47-71 in) long.
  • Their skin refracts light, creating patches that look like an oil slick.
  • Body coloration ranges from brown to reddish brown, with dark rings on their backs and blotches at the sides.
  • There are three parallel stripes on the head.

This strikingly beautiful snake in South America is a common resident of woodlands.

The colorful sheen of its scales is hard to miss, and this is how the Western Rainbow Boa got its name! Its visual appeal and lack of venom make it a popular pet among reptile lovers.

 

Western Rainbow Boas are versatile travelers. They can crawl across the land or take to the trees, but they aren’t only agile on land. They’re also strong swimmers and spend time in lakes and large rivers. Their ability to move through all these environments allows them to feed on a wide variety of prey, including birds, lizards, and amphibians.

 

Though harmless to humans and generally shy, Western Rainbow Boas don’t like to be handled. Hatchlings can be particularly feisty! They will bite as a warning to stay away and attempt to constrict if that fails.¬†

 


#162. Boa Constrictor

  • Boa constrictor

Also known as Red-tailed Boa, Common Boa

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These snakes grow 400 cm (157 in) long on average.
  • Females are longer and wider than males.
  • Coloration depends on their habitat. They can be varying shades of tan, brown, green, and even yellow or red.
  • They have distinctive geometric patterns with ovals, diamonds, bands, and stripes.

 

The Boa Constrictor is so famous it doesn’t need a common name! Instead, people easily remember it by its scientific name, Boa Constrictor! Hailing from the humid tropics, this heavyweight snake can be spotted in trees and burrows.¬†

Don’t let its large size fool you! The Boa Constrictor is an ambush predator that can strike with blinding speed. It enjoys feasting on monkeys and wild boars. This snake is also a remarkable swimmer, so don’t be surprised to find one near a river or stream.

 

Boa Constrictors are a popular attraction in zoos all over the world. In captivity, they can live for over 40 years. They’re generally docile, but they’ll still deliver a warning bite if they feel threatened. Thankfully, they’re non-venomous.

 


#163. Terciopelo

  • Bothrops asper

Identifying Characteristics:

  • On average, these vipers are 120-180 cm (47-71 in) long.
  • Terciopelos have wide, flat heads.
  • Females can grow up to 10 times larger than males.
  • They range from brown to gray. Patterns include dark spots and stripes that form triangles along the body.

 

The Terciopelo, which is also referred to as a Fer-de-lance in its range, is a venomous species you can find in tropical rainforests and lowlands. They have a fierce reputation and are responsible for many of the snakebites that occur in South America. They also have large fangs and an exceptionally high venom yield. This snake is impressive but also terrifying and has been nicknamed “the ultimate pit viper”!

This large pit viper is a patient predator. It will disguise itself among leaf litter for long periods, then bite swiftly once prey comes in range. The Terciopelo’s usual meal includes various insects, rabbits, and crayfish.

 

The venom of a Terciopelo is dangerously potent. Unfortunate victims can experience fevers, internal bleeding, and even death in extreme cases. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you think you’ve been bitten. If the Terciopelo is cornered, it will strike faster than you can react. So always¬†keep a respectful distance!

 


#164. South American Bushmaster

  • Lachesis muta

Also known as Atlantic Forest Bushmaster, Mapepire Zanana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 200-250 cm (79-98 in) long.
  • They have broad heads.
  • Their coloring can be yellowish, tan, or gray-brown.
  • Look out for a scaly diamond pattern and a pale-colored underside.

 

True to its name, the South American Bushmaster loves to hide in the bushes and undergrowth of forests with frequent rain. This stealthy snake lurks near animal trails, waiting to ambush rodents, birds, and other smaller reptiles.

 

Bushmasters are solitary creatures. In fact, they are so elusive that herpetologists are still arguing about how dangerous they are. When they’re not hunting, these pit vipers rest in hollow logs and small burrows. So, don’t go peeking inside unless you’re prepared to come across one!

 

Loud rustling among fallen leaves can indicate the presence of a South American Bushmaster. They usually try to escape if disturbed but stay cautious nonetheless! Most researchers agree that they’re highly venomous. Untreated bites are thought to be potent enough to kill.

 


#165. Mountain Keelback

  • Helicops angulatus

Also known as Brown-banded Watersnake, Water Mapepire

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to a maximum length of 78 cm (31 inches).
  • Their eyes and nostrils are situated at the top of their heads.
  • These snakes tend to be olive or grayish brown. Dark, jagged bands cover their bodies.

 

The Mountain Keelback is one of the slowest snakes in South America!

These sluggish travelers only move about a few meters each day. If you want to find one in action (or non-action, because of their slow speed), look in the freshwater bodies of the Amazon basin.

 

Because of its slow-moving nature, this species prefers to ambush unsuspecting prey. At night, Mountain Keelbacks lie in wait for unlucky animals swimming by. Smaller fish, frogs, and tadpoles are all on the menu. However, sometimes they are the unlucky ones as they are common prey for herons and larger snakes.

 

Mountain Keelbacks are only mildly venomous. However, they can be very irritable when disturbed. In defense, they will coil into an S position before lunging into a bite. They can’t kill you, but their bites are still quite painful. Hands off!

 


#166. Fire-bellied Snake

  • Erythrolamprus epinephelus

Also known as Fire-bellied Smooth Snake, Golden-bellied Snakelet

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The longest length these snakes can reach is 78 cm (31 in).
  • They have rounded snouts and round pupils.
  • Body coloration can be olive, brown, orange, or yellow. You might also notice black-striped markings along the back.
  • Their bellies are typically yellow.

 

This colorful snake in South America is found in pastures, shrublands, and forests.

It belongs to the genus commonly called “false coral snakes.” They mimic the colors of the more dangerous coral snakes, but they’re not equipped with venom.

 

Fire-bellied Snakes have developed other traits to survive in the harsh wild. Impressively, their favorite food is the Golden Dart Frog‚Äď the world’s most poisonous animal. They’ve developed an immunity to the toxins of this frog. As a result, they can withstand a poison that can easily kill an adult human!

 

Besides its interesting adaptations and eating habits, little is known about this extremely obscure snake species. It’s shy and cryptic, making research and observation next to impossible. If you see one in the wild, consider yourself extremely lucky!

 


#167. Cloudy Snail-eating Snake

  • Sibon nebulatus

Also known as Slug-eating Snake, Cloudy Snail Sucker, Clouded Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Not bigger than 71 cm (28 in), these snakes can fit in the palm of your hand.
  • They have wide heads and large eyes, and their¬†tails are more slender towards the tip.
  • Coloration is usually gray or brown, patterned with dark bands and spots.

 

The humid forests of South America are home to Cloudy Snail-Eaters. Pay attention to the forest floor, where these tiny snakes crawl along the carpet of dead leaves at night. They’re especially active after a good rain.

 

Cloudy Snail-Eating Snakes are quite crafty hunters and have a perfect system to catch a meal! First, they track down the scent of their favorite prey. Then, when they catch one, they’ll drag the snail until its shell gets stuck between rocks. Finally, they’ll pull the soft body out and swallow their prize.¬†

 

Cloudy Snail-Eaters are a non-venomous species. and they’re too small to cause serious damage when biting. Instead, they’ll secrete a foul odor to defend themselves against attackers.

 


#168. Giant Parrot Snake

  • Leptophis ahaetulla

Also known as Parrot Snake, Lora

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These slim-bodied snakes can grow to 172 cm (68 in) long.
  • Typically, the coloration is bright green or bronze with a lighter underside. Yellow stripes are sometimes seen at the sides.
  • They have noticeably large, yellow eyes with round pupils.
  • Look for a black lining along the eyes on both sides of the head.

 

Among the trees and underbrush of South American jungles, you might encounter what you think is a moving vine. However, a closer look would reveal it to be the Giant Parrot Snake! It’s a long, slender snake whose name refers to its vivid colors.¬†

 

Parrot Snakes are only mildly venomous. Their fangs are set at the back of their mouths, so it’s harder for them to deliver venom. Even so, don’t tempt a bite! The bacteria in their mouths can cause a serious infection that requires medical attention.

 

Despite being narrow and seemingly harmless, Parrot Snakes are fierce predators. They hunt during daylight hours, taking down small birds and tree lizards with aggressive agility. Occasionally, if food is scarce, they are known to cannibalize each other. 

 


#169. Black-backed Snake

  • Erythrolamprus melanotus

Also known as Shaw’s Dark Ground Snake, South American Black-backed Smooth Snake, Squirrel Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • They are fairly small and slender snakes that can grow to 43-60 cm (17-24 in) long.
  • Their snouts are rounded.
  • As you might have guessed from the name, these snakes have a black stripe that runs along the back from snout to tail.
  • The rest of their bodies are lighter in color, commonly yellow, white, or orange.

 

You might see this snake in South America in freshwater rivers treading in the currents.

The Black-backed Snake is primarily a land-dwelling species, but it’s also an excellent swimmer.

 

Black-backed Snakes are active during the day when they chase after small lizards on dry land. In the water, they forage for fish and frogs. They’re also common on cacao plantations, where they seem comfortable around humans. But don’t be alarmed; they are non-venomous and don’t pose any danger to us.

 

On their native island of Trinidad, these snakes are called Beh belle chemin. This translates to “beauty of the road.” The black and yellow stripes intricately lining their body indeed make them a thing of beauty!

 


#170. Forest Flame Snake

  • Oxyrhopus petolarius

Also known as False Coral, Calico Snake

Credit (left image): Mateo.gable, (right image): Ubirat√£ Souza, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • They can reach a total length of 91 cm (36 in).
  • Some specimens can mimic the patterns of coral snakes. They’re usually black with brightly colored bands in red, orange, and white shades.
  • Some are plain brown with shiny scales.
  • They have round, bulging eyes.

 

The Forest Flame Snake lives in forests, foothills, and lowlands in South America. This snake is mainly a night-time hunter, stalking rodents, lizards, and sleeping birds. Sometimes, it will raid birds’ nests to feast on eggs. Its venom is particularly toxic to Anole Lizards, one of its favorite foods.

 

When the sun comes out, Forest Flame Snakes will retreat into the shade for rest. However, they like warm places, so you might find one hiding in a hollow log where it’s easier to preserve heat.

 

They are only mildly venomous snakes and pose no danger to humans. On the contrary, Forest Flame Snakes are quite calm even when handled. Their first instinct upon sensing threats is to flee instead of fight.

 


#171. Central American Boa

  • Boa imperator

Also known as Boa Constrictor Imperator, Common Northern Boa, Colombian Boa

Credit (left image): Hersson Ramírez, (right image): Esteban Alzate, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These large reptiles are generally 130-250 cm (51-98 in) long.
  • Female boas are much larger than males.
  • You might notice a dark streak that extends from their eyes to the back of their jaws.

 

The Central American Boa prefers humid rainforests, but they occasionally inhabit drier environments like savannas. It is a stealthy hunter, slow-moving and well-camouflaged. At dusk, it ambushes birds, lizards, and smaller mammals, constricting them until they stop breathing.

As one of the most territorial snakes in Central America, this species lives most of its life in isolation.

Most of the time, they only interact with each other to breed. If you encounter one in the wild, remember that it won’t hesitate to strike repeatedly in rapid succession. Even though they aren’t venomous, their bites can still hurt. Watch your step!

 

These snakes are quite popular as pets because of their flashy patterns and lack of venom. Some snake keepers breed them to produce unique-colored morphs. These days, you might even find a Central American Boa that’s entirely white.

 


#172. Banded Cat-eyed Snake

  • Leptodeira annulata

Also known as Cat-eyed Night Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These snakes are very slender. They can reach lengths of 75 cm (30 in).
  • Their eyes are large with vertical-slit pupils.
  • Coloration is typically in shades of brown, though some are yellowish or orange.
  • They have dark spots and blotches. When overlapping, these can form zigzags across the body.

 

The Banded Cat-eyed Snake often gets mistaken for a South American Bushmaster, but it’s nowhere near as venomous. Its mild venom only immobilizes its prey and has little effect on humans. You can find this snake in South America near sources of water in scrublands and other forested areas.

 

Banded Cat-eyed Snakes are nocturnal hunters. In the cover of darkness, they set out to feed on unsuspecting lizards and rodents. Their semi-aquatic nature allows them to also hunt frogs and toads. During the day, they slither into the protection of hollowed logs to hide from hawks.

 

These docile snakes seldom bite, even when handled. They always try to escape first upon suspecting danger. If cornered, they will secrete a putrid odor against predators. Cover your nose!

 


#173. Patagonian Racer

  • Philodryas patagoniensis

Also known as Patagonia Green Racer

Credit (left image): Frederico de Alc√Ęntara Menezes, Arthur Diesel Abegg, Bruno Rocha da Silva, Francisco Lu√≠s Franco, Renato Neves Feio, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These are slender-bodied snakes growing up to 150 cm (59 in) long.
  • They have big, round pupils, rounded snouts, and¬†prominent scaled markings from head to tail.
  • Coloration is various shades of olive green or brown. Their bellies are white.

 

The Patagonian Racer is a widespread snake in South America.

It lives in steppes and grasslands across the continent. This reptile is not considered venomous, but it does have toxic saliva. It has a nasty bite, so it’s best to observe this snake from a distance.

 

Juvenile Patagonian Racers prefer cold-blooded prey like frogs and lizards. Adults, on the other hand, prefer warm-blooded prey such as birds and small mammals. They spend most of their time hunting in trees during the day. At night, they retreat to land crevices to avoid Barn Owls.

 

This stealthy snake has a habit of startling hikers with its astounding burst of speed! It can blend almost perfectly into the forest floor or tree cover. 

 


#174. Yellow-bellied Liophis

  • Erythrolamprus poecilogyrus
Credit (left image): Otavio A.V. Marques, (right image): Otavio A.V. Marques, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These snakes can grow between 55-100 cm (22-39 in) long.
  • Some specimens mimic the striped patterns of more venomous snakes.
  • As their name implies, they have yellow-colored undersides. The rest of their bodies are commonly a solid brown, olive, or black.

 

Yellow-bellied Liophises are speedy snakes you can find racing on dry land and grass fields. They are skilled swimmers, too, staying in shallow water to feed on frogs and toads. While adults eat lizards and small mammals, babies prefer tadpoles and insects.

 

This fascinating snake has adaptations to help it survive, both as a predator and as prey. For example, the Yellow-bellied Liophis will vomit to protect itself if it accidentally swallows a poisonous animal. Another handy defense mechanism is mimicking the colors of venomous coral snakes. In truth, this species is generally harmless. Still, it will bite when irritated, so don’t test your luck!¬†

 

The unique appearance of Yellow-bellied Liophises makes them popular in the pet trade. They’re bred to produce even more diverse color patterns.¬†

 


#175. Yarar√° Lancehead

  • Bothrops jararaca

Also known as Jararaca, Yarar√°

Credit (left image): Fausto E. Barbo, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can reach lengths of 60-160 cm (24-63 in).
  • Their heads are flat with sharp ridges that meet towards the front. You can spot a dark marking behind each eye, running back to the angle of the mouth.
  • Coloration varies significantly. These include brown, gray, olive, and yellow with trapezoidal markings.

 

If you find a snake in the forests of South America, be extra cautious of the Yarar√° Lancehead. You wouldn’t want to meet this highly venomous and aggressive species. It’s responsible for many snake bites because it frequents agricultural fields while searching for food.

 

Lanceheads are ambush predators. They blend well on the forest floor, waiting to catch unsuspecting rodents. Juvenile Yarar√°s use their white-colored tail tips to lure frogs and arthropods. Once they strike, they bite to inject their potent venom, which quickly kills the prey.

 

Astonishingly, this viper’s venom has helped save lives! Despite being deadly on its own, it was used to create the world’s first ACE inhibitor. This drug is used to treat patients with high blood pressure and certain types of heart failure.

 


#176. Neotropical Rattlesnake

  • Crotalus durissus

Also known as South American Rattlesnake, Central American Rattlesnake, Cascabel Rattlesnake, Guiana Rattlesnake, Aruba Island Rattlesnake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically 150 cm (59 in) long on average.¬†
  • There is a prominent stripe at the base of their heads, intersecting each eye.
  • Scales protrude from their body.
  • They usually appear in shades of brown and gray. Sometimes, patterns of diamonds and triangles form across the body. Bellies are yellowish or white.

 

Neotropical Rattlesnakes in South America are residents of grasslands and tropical forests.

You might also find them in drier areas if a shortage of prey drives them to find food. These snakes are most active at dusk, stalking rodents and other reptiles. They’re equipped with heat-sensing pits below their eyes to track down prey.

These rattlesnakes are dangerously venomous. Left untreated, bite victims can experience muscle paralysis and difficulty breathing. In the worst cases, victims can end up with organ failure and death. Therefore, if¬†you receive a bite from a Neotropical Rattlesnake, it’s vital to get medical help as soon as possible.

 

A Neotropical Rattlesnake can move with remarkable speed, but its first instinct is not to attack. To warn you, it might make a rattling sound with its tail or raise its forebody into a defensive striking posture. When this happens, it’s best to respect the warning, back away slowly, and then leave the area.

 


#177. Urutu Lancehead

  • Bothrops alternatus

Also known as Urutu, Crossed Pit Viper, Wutu

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 80-120 cm (31-47 in) in length.
  • Their heads are distinctly broad and lance-shaped.
  • They’re brown, olive, and gray with a unique “mirrored” body pattern that can form cross-like shapes enclosed in large blotches.

 

Widely found in swamps and rainforests, the Urutu Lancehead is a member of the pit viper family. This highly venomous snake is drawn to the body heat of its prey using special organs in its head called “pits.” It blends into leaf litter to sneak up on unsuspecting mammals like opossums and mice.

 

Urutu Lancheads are short-tempered, contributing to many bites in humans. Its venom can cause serious tissue damage around the the bite wound. In severe cases, amputation of the affected limb is needed. Go to a hospital immediately if you find yourself bitten by this snake!

 

Although they usually live far away from civilization, Urutu Lanceheads can stray into farmlands in search of prey. Sadly, farmers are often forced to kill these snakes to protect their livestock.

 


#178. Gunther’s Striped Snake

  • Lygophis anomalus
Credit (left image): Romi Galeota Lencina, (right image): Romi Galeota Lencina, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Fairly small and slender, adults grow only 45-72 cm (18-28 in) long.
  • Body coloration includes brown, olive, cream, and gray. These colors alternate to form spots and stripes. Their bellies are creamy yellow.
  • Two white lines run parallel to each other along the back.

 

Even though they’re small, Gunther’s Striped Snakes are numerous, so you have a good chance of spotting one. Don’t panic if you do. These snakes are harmless to humans and are more likely to flee than attack. They often inhabit grasslands, staying close to streams and lagoons.

 

During the winter, Gunther’s Striped Snakes hibernate to avoid the worst of the cold weather. Incredibly, they go for months without food! They can hibernate alone but prefer staying in groups, which helps them preserve body heat. So don’t be surprised to find large groups of these snakes during the spring as they wake up from their long nap. ūüôā

 

Gunther’s Striped Snakes like to make lairs out of rodent burrows. Here, they’re protected from the elements as well as predators. If cornered, these striped snakes will expel a foul liquid as a warning. Watch out!

 


#179. South American Hognose

  • Xenodon dorbignyi

Also known as South American Pig-nosed Snake

Credit: Juan Anza, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults measure 45-80 cm (18-31 in) in length.
  • They get their name from their upward-facing snouts, shaped like a pig’s nose.
  • Coloration varies from yellowish, brown, black, and gray. Body patterns form a series of spots and blotches with light borders.

 

You might mistake a South American Hognose for a milk snake or coral snake. Despite being unrelated, they share a similar three-color skin pattern. This mimicry of the highly venomous coral snake helps scare off predators. But don’t worry; this species isn’t nearly as dangerous.

 

The upturned snouts of South American Hognoses allow them to make burrows to rest and hide in. These reptiles like sandy areas that aren’t too far from wetlands because the loose, moist soil is easier for them to dig. Their favorite prey is toads, but they’re known to eat fish in captivity.¬†

 

The South American Hognose has poisonous saliva. Note that this isn’t the same as typical snake venom; it’s much milder, and it poses no harm to humans. These snakes are mild-mannered, making them popular among exotic pet keepers.

 


#180. False Water Cobra

  • Hydrodynastes gigas

Also known as False Cobra, Brazilian Smooth Snake, South American Water Cobra

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are typically 200 cm (79 in) long but occasionally up to 300 cm (118 in).
  • They can flatten their necks and other sections of their bodies.
  • Typical coloration is olive or brown, patterned with dark spots and bands. Undersides are lighter in color.

 

False Water Cobras favor the high humidity of forests and marshlands. Here, they are highly alert hunters preying on fish and amphibians in the daytime. Take note of how unpredictable these snakes can be. Some individuals are mild-mannered, while others can be quite aggressive. To be safe, it’s best to observe this species from a distance.

 

As their name suggests, False Water Cobras aren’t true cobras. They can, however, puff up their neck and flatten the skin to mimic a cobra’s hood. You can tell them apart because False Water Cobras can’t raise their forebodies off the ground as real cobras do.

 

False Water Cobras are unique because their fangs don’t hold a large amount of venom. As a result, they must repeatedly chew on their prey to incapacitate it. Consequently, bites on humans are usually not serious since we can get away before this happens. Symptoms may include swelling and bouts of muscle paralysis, so it’s still important to see a doctor.

 


#181. Painted Lancehead

  • Bothrops diporus
Credit (left image): Silvio Montani, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • On average, adults are 65 cm (26 in) long, but rare specimens nearly double that length have occurred.
  • Their heads are flat and lance-shaped.
  • Brown and gray colors are common. You’ll also notice dark trapezoids, triangles, and blotches alternating along the body.

 

These abundant snakes in South America are well known for their intricate patterns and dangerous venom.

The Painted Lancehead is hard to spot on land because of how well it can camouflage itself. As such, it’s highly successful in catching passing frogs, lizards, and rodents.

 

Painted Lancheads, like other pit vipers, have special heat-sensing pits below their eyes. These pits allow them to find warm-blooded animals before they can see them. Of course, since humans are warm-blooded, they will sense you if you’re in range, too!

 

Great caution is advised when dealing with Painted Lanceheads. They are highly venomous, and untreated bites occasionally kill humans. If you encounter one, don’t attempt to confront or trap it because you’ll only make it angry! Back away from the snake slowly and leave the area instead.

 


#182. Leopard Keelback

  • Helicops leopardinus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These small snakes are only 48-100 cm (19-39 in) long.
  • They have slender, tapered tails.
  • Their base colors are usually black, brown, or gray. They have a series of dark orange or yellow spots and bands.

 

If you find yourself in the wetlands of South America, you may have an encounter with the Leopard Keelback. This nocturnal species has quite a temper, so try not to disturb it! The good news is their bite is non-venomous. Pain and swelling are the worst symptoms, but a bite from one of these angry snakes would put a damper on your hike.

 

Leopard Keelbacks are great swimmers, even in fast-flowing streams. They take advantage of aquatic plants as cover to sneak up on unwary frogs and fish.

 

Unlike most reptiles, female Leopard Keelbacks are viviparous. This means they give birth to live young! Birthing cycles coincide with rainy seasons to take advantage of flooding. When the young Leopard Keelbacks are born, they hitch a ride on floating plants to ensure a large range and distribution. How fun!

 


#183. Brown Vinesnake

  • Oxybelis aeneus

Also known as Mexican Vine Snake, Pike-headed Tree Snake, Horse Whip

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 190 cm (75 in) in length.
  • They have incredibly slim bodies and long heads with narrow, pointed snouts.
  • Gray or brown colors are common. Undersides are pale or yellow. The inside of the mouth is black.

 

Brown Vinesnakes in South America are an arboreal species, living most of their lives in trees and shrubbery. You might find them in forested areas, hunting for prey when the sun is out. Their favorite meals are tree lizards, birds, frogs, and small rodents.

 

With slender, dark-colored bodies, Brown Vinesnakes are practically undetectable when camouflaged against twigs! This camouflage allows them to hide from predators. However, if confrontation can’t be avoided, these reptiles will open their ink-black mouths as a threat display.¬†

 

The venom of the Brown Vinesnake is only effective against small prey. Humans, on the other hand, would have almost no symptoms aside from mild pain from the bite itself. Occasionally, these snakes may expel a foul order to dissuade attackers.

 


#184. Brazilian Lancehead

  • Bothrops moojeni

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These heavy-bodied snakes are about 160-230 cm (63-91 in) long.
  • They have broad, lance-shaped heads.
  • The coloring is gray, brown, and olive. Body markings are a series of trapezoids or triangles in contrasting colors.

 

South American forests are home to this snake, a particularly angry member of the pit viper family. Stay alert around streams! The Brazilian Lancehead likes to keep a water source nearby. At night, it lurks in lush vegetation, feeding on small mammals, birds, and amphibians.

 

Young Lanceheads tend to latch on to their prey, biting and not letting go until the victim is incapacitated. As they grow, they learn to release their bite to avoid injury from flailing prey. Instead, they track their victim down again as the animal succumbs to the venom. 

 

Brazilian Lancehead venom causes immediate pain. It also thins the blood, causing dangerous internal bleeding in bite victims. In the worst cases, stroke and death are possible. Seek immediate treatment if you get bitten!

 


#185. Eyelash Viper

  • Bothriechis schlegelii

Also known as Eyelash Pit Viper, Eyelash Palm Viper, Schlegel’s Viper, Eyelash Lancehead, Eyelash Mountain Viper, Horned Palm Viper, Parrot Snake

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are generally 55-82 cm (22-32 in) long.
  • Their heads are broad and triangular.
  • Coloration depends on habitat. These include bright yellow, green, orange, or pink. You might also see dark speckles dotted all over the body.

 

Look for this small snake in South America in forests and woodlands. 

 

The fancy-looking Eyelash Viper earned its name from the pair of modified scales above its eyes which resemble eyelashes. A myth tells of this viper winking at its victims after biting them. Of course, snakes don’t have eyelids, so they can’t actually wink!

 

Did you know that Eyelash Vipers are resourceful creatures? To hydrate, they drink the water droplets that gather on leaves. In addition, they use their tails to grab onto branches, positioning themselves to hunt rodents, lizards, and small birds at night.

 

Eyelash Vipers are generally docile but will strike in defense if threatened. They’re moderately venomous, and while there are no recorded human deaths, their bites can still be very painful. Be careful if you happen to find one!

 


Which of these kinds of snakes have you seen before?

 

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