7 Types of VENOMOUS Snakes in Ethiopia! (2023)

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

Types of venomous snakes in Ethiopia

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 Ethiopia 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!

Venomous Snakes that Live in Ethiopia:


#1. Egyptian Cobra

  • Naja haje

Also known as the Brown Cobra.

Types of venomous snakes in Ethiopia

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 Ethiopia 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. Puff Adder

  • Bitis arietans

Also known as the African Puff Adder and Common Puff Adder.

Types of venomous snakes in Ethiopia

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 venomous snakes in Ethiopia.

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

Its distinctive yellow, white, and brown chevron pattern 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 poison and tendency to loiter around footpaths make this snake one to avoid. Watch your step!


#3. Spotted Night Adder

  • Causus maculatus

Also known as Forest Rhombic Night Adders or West African Night Adders.

Types of venomous snakes in Ethiopia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 30-71 cm (12-28 in) long.
  • They are small, thick, and have broad, rounded snouts.
  • Their coloring is brownish, but they may also be gray, olive, or light green with dark brown or black patches down their back.

You can find these venomous snakes in Ethiopia in nearly every habitat!

They occupy forests, savanna, and semi-desert. Across this wide range of habitats, we also see a range of coloration. Some individuals may have different patterns, and especially in arid regions, they may have no pattern at all.

Despite the name, Spotted Night Adders are active during the day and at night. They move across the landscape slowly but can strike with incredible speed. Even though they’re a terrestrial or ground-dwelling species, they will occasionally pursue a frog or toad into a shrub.

While venomous, Spotted Night Adders don’t pose a serious risk to humans. Bites generally result in relatively mild symptoms, including pain, swelling, and mild fever. Typically the symptoms disappear within three days, but you should still see a doctor if bitten.


#4. Boomslang

  • Dispholidus typus

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

Types of venomous snakes in Ethiopia

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 venomous snake makes its home in low-lying trees in Ethiopia.

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.


#5. Rhombic Night Adder

  • Causus rhombeatus

Also known as Demon Night Adders, Cape Night Adders, African Night Adders, and Cape Vipers.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 60-94 cm (24-37 in) long.
  • Their base color is usually brown but may also be pinkish-brown, grayish-brown, or olive green. They have 20 to 30 dark rhombic blotches with pale edges along their backs.
  • They have a blunt snout and a characteristic dark V-shaped mark on their heads.

Despite being venomous, Rhombic Night Adders are considered docile. That said, they will put up an impressive defense when threatened. Most of their defensive display is designed to make them look like cobras.

For example, they coil up and inflate their bodies, flattening the neck area like a hood. They may move forward with their tongue extended like a cobra as well.

It’s a good idea to heed their warnings! If their defense doesn’t work, they’ll strike repeatedly and aggressively, sometimes so violently that it lifts their entire body off the ground.

Thankfully, bites from Rhombic Night Adders are less severe than other venomous snakes in Ethiopia. Their bites typically cause pain, minor swelling, and minimal necrosis. The symptoms appear to clear in most adults in two to three days, but you should still see a doctor to be safe.


#6. Red Spitting Cobra

  • Naja pallida

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 0.75-1.5 m (2.5-5 ft) long.
  • They have completely black eyes, a neck hood, and teardrop markings under the eyes.
  • Their coloring is typically bright salmon-red with a broad, dark throat band.

They may not be considered deadly, but you’ll still want to look out for these venomous snakes in Ethiopia! Red Spitting Cobras prefer warm lowland areas such as savannas and semi-deserts. However, they occur across a large and diverse range and occasionally venture into wetlands and even populated areas. Unfortunately, they often enter houses seeking prey.

Unlike many snakes that use an ambush hunting technique, Red Spitting Cobras actively hunt and chase down prey. They can accurately spit venom from a range of about 2.5 m (8 ft) to blind their target. Before striking, these cobras will also make erratic movements to disorient their victim. Once they’ve caught something, they swallow it whole.

Their ability to spit venom is an incredibly effective defense mechanism, meaning these cobras have no true predators. If threatened, Red Spitting Cobras stand up tall, hiss, spread their hood, and spit at an attacker up to 40 times in two minutes! Their venom contains cytotoxins and neurotoxins, which will damage the eyes and cause blindness if left untreated, so it’s best to give these snakes plenty of space!

If you get within range, Red Spitting Cobras will strike without hesitation. Victims should seek medical treatment immediately and often require anti-venom. A bite from a Red Spitting Cobra can cause pain, swelling, and tissue damage.


#7. Ashe’s Spitting Cobra

  • Naja ashei

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 1.3–2.0 m (4.3–6.6 ft) long.
  • They have thick bodies, broad heads, and dark throat bands.
  • Their color varies and may be light brown, mustard, dark brown, or light gray with a pale underside.

As their name suggests, Ashe’s Spitting Cobras can spit venom at their attacker’s eyes. Watch out! They can hit their target from 2 m (6.5 ft) away and will continue spitting for hours if they remain cornered. Their powerful venom can destroy the cornea and cause permanent blindness if not treated immediately.

These dangerous cobras also bite, and their strike contains more venom than most other types of spitting cobras. Their venom contains neurotoxins and cytotoxins known to have a necrotizing effect, killing tissue around the wound. If bitten or spit on, seek medical attention immediately!

While their defensive behavior may earn them a fearsome reputation, Ashe’s Spitting Cobras and other related spitting cobras may be helpful to humans. Their venom contains antimicrobial and antibacterial compounds. Scientists are testing these compounds against bacteria in the hope that they may be helpful against superbugs as more antibiotic-resistant bacterias evolve.


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.”


Learn more about animals found in Ethiopia in these ID Guides:


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

Leave a COMMENT below!

Leave a Reply