13 Types of VENOMOUS Snakes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo! (2023)
Do you want to learn about the types of venomous snakes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
#1. Egyptian Cobra
- Naja haje
Also known as the Brown Cobra.
- 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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.
- 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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. Jameson’s Mamba
- Dendroaspis jamesoni
- Adults are 1.2-2.1 m (4-7 ft) long.
- Their coloring is dull green mottled with black and yellow, and they have a cream underside.
Jameson’s Mambas are highly venomous snakes that primarily inhabit rainforests, woodlands, and savanna. They also use mango and nut plantations, parks, and farmlands and are occasionally found around buildings.
If you want to see this venomous snake in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you may have to spend a long time searching. This shy species is primarily arboreal and spends most of its days in the dense vegetation of trees, hunting birds, lizards, bats, and small mammals. However, if you’re lucky (or unlucky), you may spot one on the ground as they bask or move between trees.
Jameson’s Mambas have a highly potent neurotoxic venom. Unfortunately, they are sometimes confused with common, harmless green snakes, which can be a deadly mistake. Without immediate treatment, this snake’s bite can kill a human within four hours!
Thankfully, they are generally not aggressive, and bites are rare. If confronted, their first instinct is to flee. They may also put on a threat display and flatten their neck to mimic a cobra.
#4. 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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.
#6. Gaboon Viper
- Bitis gabonica
Also known as Gaboon Adder, Forest Puff Adder, Butterfly Adder, Whisper, Swampjack
- Their typical size is 80–205 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 venomous snake in the Democratic Republic of the Congo!
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.
#7. Rhombic Night Adder
- Causus rhombeatus
Also known as Demon Night Adders, Cape Night Adders, African Night Adders, and Cape Vipers.
- 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 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.
#8. Black Mamba
- Dendroaspis polylepis
- 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 lurks what many consider the deadliest venomous snake in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, if not the world. 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 to warn 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.
#9. 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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.
#10. 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 venomous snake in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, don’t go peeking around holes in the ground!
This DANGEROUS venomous species likes to nest in burrows. The Forest Cobra is HUGE, 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.
#11. 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.
#12. 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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.
#13. African Bush Viper
- Atheris squamigera
Also known as the Variable Bush Viper, Leaf Viper, Green Bush Viper, or Hallowell’s Green Tree Viper.
- Adults are 50-81 cm (20-32 in) long.
- They have keeled scales, broad triangular heads, and large eyes.
- Their coloring is commonly sage green, dark green, pale green, olive, bluish, or dark brown. In rare cases, they may be yellow, gray, or reddish.
If you see this venomous snake in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you will notice it has a rough textured appearance.
It’s due to the keeled scales on their heads and bodies. These scales have a ridge down the center rather than being flat. Reptile experts think that keeled scales have two benefits: they help camouflage the snakes and allow them to grip trees and branches better.
Look for African Bush Vipers in tropical forests with dense vegetation and abundant prey. These masterful hunters spend most of their nights curled around low branches or twigs, waiting to ambush small mammals. Once their prey is in range, these snakes strike with incredible speed. Then they inject their prey with venom from their two hollow, retractable fangs, rendering their victim helpless.
While it isn’t common, African Bush Vipers will occasionally strike humans. Unfortunately, these snakes often remain still in a tree or on the ground, and humans accidentally step on them. A single bite can cause fever, hemorrhaging, and even death. It’s incredibly important to seek medical help immediately!
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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo in these ID Guides:
The Most Common Birds Found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Common Spiders That Live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Which of these venomous snakes have you seen before in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
Leave a COMMENT below!