5 Types of VENOMOUS Snakes in Sierra Leone! (2023)
Do you want to learn about the types of venomous snakes in Sierra Leone?
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 Sierra Leone 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 Sierra Leone:
#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 Sierra Leone 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.
- Dispholidus typus
Also known as Common African Tree Snake, Kivu Boomslang, and Kivu Large Green Tree Snake
- 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 Sierra Leone.
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.
#3. 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 Sierra Leone 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.
#4. 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 Sierra Leone!
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.
#5. 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 Sierra Leone 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 Sierra Leone in these ID Guides:
Which of these venomous snakes have you seen before in Sierra Leone?
Leave a COMMENT below!