7 Types of VENOMOUS Snakes in Egypt! (2024)

Do you want to learn about the types of venomous snakes in Egypt?

Types of venomous snakes in Egypt

If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the MOST COMMON venomous snakes you can expect to see. If I missed any, please leave a Comment at the bottom of the page. 🙂

You’ll see that the venomous snakes in Egypt are very different from each other. They have different sizes, habitats, and even different types of venom. In addition, certain snakes are common to find living around people. For each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!

7 Venomous Snakes that Live in Egypt:

#1. Egyptian Cobra

  • Naja haje

Also known as the Brown Cobra.

Types of venomous snakes in Egypt

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults 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 Egypt 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 Egyptian Cobras near human settlements. However, it will favor escaping if confronted. Its favorite meals are toads, but it will also go for lizards, birds, and snakes.

#2. Sahara Sand Viper

  • Cerastes vipera

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

Types of venomous snakes in Egypt

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 venomous snake in the deserts of Egypt.

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!

#3. Desert Horned Viper

  • Cerastes cerastes

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

Types of venomous snakes in Egypt

  • Adults are only 30-85 cm (12-33 in) long on average.
  • They commonly display body colors such as yellow, gray, brown, and sometimes pink and red. Along the back and sides, there is a prominent pattern of dark rectangular blotches.
  • Desert Horned Vipers got their name from the pair of sharp, unmistakable “horns” protruding from each eye.

In the deserts of Egypt, you might find a pattern of strange S-shaped markings in the sand. Tread carefully! These markings might mean that a Desert Horned Viper is nearby.

Most active during the night, Desert Horned Vipers are patient hunters. They lie motionless for hours while buried in the sand with nothing but their eyes and horns sticking out. Then, they strike quickly when an unsuspecting lizard or rodent passes by.

When this venomous snake feels threatened, it will rub its keeled scales together to make a rasping sound. If you hear this, it’s best to respect the warning and back away slowly. Unlucky victims of the Desert Horned Viper could face intense pain, swelling, and hemorrhage. Seek medical treatment at once if you are bitten!

#4. Field’s Horned Viper

  • Pseudocerastes fieldi

Also known as False Horned Viper, Field’s Viper.

Types of venomous snakes in Egypt

  • These stout-bodied snakes are 46-122 cm (18-48 in) long on average. Their short, slender tails are visibly black on the tip.
  • Their heads are pear-shaped and flattened, visibly distinct from their necks. Their snouts are short and blunt.
  • The horn-like protrusions above this viper’s eyes aren’t as remarkable as other related viper species. That’s why it has another common name, the “False Horned Viper.”

Look for this venomous snake in Egypt among deserts and shrublands. If you find S-shaped markings on the sand, it might mean that a Field’s Horned Viper is nearby, moving in a sidewinding pattern. Be particularly watchful near rock crevices and animal burrows where this viper likes to nest.

Field’s Horned Viper Range Map

Field’s horned viper. (2023, September 25). In Wikipedia.

Field’s Horned Vipers are masters of the night. In the cover of darkness, they set out to hunt unsuspecting lizards, mice, small mammals, birds, and spiders.

Their venom is neurotoxic, and victims who get bitten may experience extreme pain, swelling, and even paralysis.

Though they’re typically shy and live far from human civilization, Field’s Horned Vipers won’t hesitate to attack if they feel cornered. First, they will hiss at you to announce a warning. If that happens, it’s best that you back away and leave the area before they get a chance to strike!

#5. Moila Snake

  • Malpolon moilensis

Also known as False Cobra, Hooded Malpolon, Talheh Snake.

Types of venomous snakes in Egypt

  • Adults are 80-140 cm (31-55 in) on average, but longer specimens reach 190 cm (75 in) long.
  • Their eyes are big and round.
  • They are light tan or straw in color. There’s a checkered pattern of brown spots across their bodies. Their bellies are paler in contrast.

Look for this venomous snake in Egypt near stony deserts and dry shrublands.

It feeds on lizards, gerbils, beetles, and small birds during the day. However, it may adapt to hotter weather by hunting at night.

Curiously, the Moila Snake is sought after in the exotic pet trade despite being venomous. However, think twice before you decide to keep this snake as a pet. Some individuals are calm, while others are short-tempered, and Moila Snakes are notoriously volatile. Therefore, only experienced keepers can safely handle them.

If threatened, this species will flatten and spread its neck into a hood as a means of intimidation. This behavior is how it earned its other common name, the “False Cobra.” The venom isn’t strong enough to kill a human, but it can cause excruciating pain and swelling.

#6. Painted Saw-scaled Viper

  • Echis coloratus

Also known as Arabian Saw-scaled Viper, Mid-East Saw-scaled Viper, Burton’s Carpet Viper, Palestine Saw-scaled Viper, and Painted Carpet Viper.

Types of venomous snakes in Egypt

  • Adults are 75-83 cm (30-33 in) long on average.
  • These vibrant snakes vary in color according to their environment. In rocky terrains, some are yellowish-gray or brownish-gray. Where there’s red sandstone or granite, they are reddish brown or pink.

The venomous Painted Saw-scaled Viper loves to hang out in the rocky deserts and hillsides of Egypt. Though it prefers to prowl among rocks and bushes on the ground, it’s surprisingly adept at climbing trees as well! When the weather gets hotter, this viper digs and hides in deep burrows to keep cool.

Most active during the night, Painted Saw-scaled Vipers sit next to desert oases and wait for their prey. They have a taste for birds, lizards, mammals, and large invertebrates. They use their long, hollow fangs to subdue their prey quickly. When not in use, they can fold these against the roof of their mouths.

Although bites by the Painted Saw-scaled Viper are common, they’re rarely reported to have serious effects. Regardless, keep your wits about you and stay alert in this viper’s territory. Its venom can cause swelling, severe bleeding, anemia, and, in extreme instances, kidney failure. Rush over to a medical facility if you’ve been bitten!

#7. Western Black Desert Cobra

  • Walterinnesia aegyptia

Also known as Desert Cobra, Desert Black Snake.

Credit (left image): Ltshears, (right image): Harold van der Ploeg, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Adults are 50-130 cm (20-51 in) long on average. They have short tails.
  • As their common name suggests, these snakes are completely black all over. Their bodies are covered with shiny black scales.
  • They have small, flattened heads which are distinct from their necks. They also have sharp snouts and small eyes.

If you want to avoid this dangerous snake in Egypt, be extra careful when you’re in rocky deserts, scrublands, and foothills. Sometimes, Western Black Desert Cobras can stray into farmlands in search of prey. Thankfully, these shy, solitary snakes prefer to escape rather than attack when disturbed.

Lizards, toads, other snakes, mice, and birds are all on the menu for the Western Black Desert Cobra. Also, this snake won’t waste the chance to eat dead food when available. Interestingly, this snake species doesn’t exclusively rely on its deadly venom to subdue its prey. It can also lunge from short distances, bite sideways, and use constriction techniques.

The bite of a Western Black Desert Cobra is no joke, even more venomous than the famous Indian Cobra from Asia and the iconic Cape Cobra from Africa! There have not been enough clinical reports to fully understand the effects of this cobra’s venom. However, we do know that it targets the nervous system and can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, and intense pain. Keep your distance!

Did you know that snakes are considered venomous, NOT poisonous?

There currently is a common misconception between poisonous and venomous, one is ingested, and the other is injected. So, for example, If you eat something that makes you sick, then it is considered “poisonous.” But if an animal, like a snakes, delivers its toxins when it bites, then it’s considered “venomous.”

Check out these guides to other animals found in Egypt!

Which of these venomous snakes have you seen before in Egypt?

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