6 Types of VENOMOUS Snakes in Ghana! (2023)
Do you want to learn about the types of venomous snakes in Ghana?
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 Ghana 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 Ghana:
#1. Spotted Night Adder
- Causus maculatus
Also known as Forest Rhombic Night Adders or West African Night Adders.
- 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 Ghana 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.
#2. 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.
- The average length is 1-2 m (3-7 ft).
Look for these venomous snakes in Ghana near streams and rivers.
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 7 m (23 ft) 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.
Although it’s a different variety of spitting cobra, the video below shows the power of a spitting strike.
#3. Rhinoceros Viper
- Bitis nasicornis
Also known as Butterfly Viper, Rhinoceros Horned Viper, River Jack, Horned Puff Adder
- 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 the 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.
#4. Forest Night Adder
- Causus lichtensteinii
- Adults are 30-71 cm (12-28 in) long.
- They have a narrow head, blunt snout, and weakly-keeled scales with a velvety texture.
- They’re typically olive or greenish, with backward-pointing chevrons running down their back.
You’re most likely to find these venomous snakes in Ghana in swampy areas or around bodies of water. They spend their days hunting insects, frogs, toads, and other amphibians. A Forest Night Adder’s diet changes as it grows. They select prey relative to their size; larger snakes hunt larger prey and may give up smaller prey items like insects entirely.
Unlike other snakes in the rainforest, Forest Night Adders are terrestrial and spend most of their time on the ground. However, they don’t mind getting into the water when necessary. These snakes are excellent swimmers that have even colonized some of the islands in Lake Victoria.
When threatened, Forest Night Adders can put on an intimidating display despite their small size. They puff up their bodies and make loud hissing noises to ward off any would-be attackers. If they feel cornered, they may strike with surprising speed.
#5. Western Green Mamba
- Dendroaspis viridis
- Adults are 1.5-2.5 m (5-8 ft) long.
- They have slender bodies, long tapering tails, and round pupils with yellowish-green irises.
- Their coloring is bright green, fading to yellow or orange toward the tail, and each scale has a prominent black margin giving the snake a webbed pattern.
Western Green Mambas are beautiful but deadly venomous snakes in Ghana!
They prefer to live in forested habitats where their intense coloring acts as camouflage. You might also find them in deforested areas, parklands, and suburbs with sufficient vegetation.
Although active during the day, these snakes can be tough to find. Western Green Mambas spend most of their time gracefully moving along branches in the high forest canopy. They sleep in densely leaved branches and hunt tree-dwelling rodents and birds.
They usually retreat when threatened, but you don’t want to disturb one. Western Green Mambas have extremely potent venom that contains neurotoxins, cardiotoxins, and other poisons. Symptoms include local pain, swelling, necrosis, headaches, dizziness, low blood pressure, and trouble breathing.
Without treatment, severe symptoms can progress rapidly and eventually result in paralysis of the respiratory muscles causing suffocation. Deaths within 30 minutes have been reported.
#6. Green Bush Viper
- Atheris chlorechis
Also known as Western Bush Vipers or West African Leaf Vipers.
- Adults are about 50 cm (20 in) long.
- Their coloring is light green with a pale green underside and pairs of faint yellow spots running down their back about 2.5 cm (1 in) apart.
- They have slender bodies, triangular heads, and intensely keeled scales.
Look for this venomous snake in Ghana in dense forests.
Green Bush Vipers spend most of their time in branches 0.9-1.8 m (3-6 ft) off the ground. Their coloring allows them to remain hidden amongst the foliage to avoid predators and ambush prey like rodents, lizards, and tree frogs.
While they’re not aggressive snakes, a bite from a Green Bush Viper can have serious consequences. Their venom can result in internal hemorrhaging and renal failure, which can be fatal if left untreated.
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 Ghana in these ID Guides:
Which of these venomous snakes have you seen before in Ghana?
Leave a COMMENT below!