23 Venomous Snakes found in the Middle East (2024)

Believe it or not, you can find 23 types of venomous snakes in the Middle East.

venomous snakes in the middle east

But please don’t live in fear, thinking that you are going to be bitten. In general, snakes try to avoid any contact or interaction with people. If you leave them alone, you shouldn’t have any trouble!

Did you know that snakes are venomous, NOT poisonous? If you eat something that makes you sick, then it’s considered “poisonous.” If an animal, like a snake, delivers its toxins when it bites, it’s considered “venomous.”

*If you encounter any of these species, PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB! Venomous snakes are dangerous animals and should be left alone. The more you agitate them, the more likely you will get bitten. DO NOT RELY ON THIS ARTICLE to correctly identify a snake that has recently bitten you. If you have recently been bitten, GO DIRECTLY to the nearest hospital to get help and to determine if the snake is venomous.*

Venomous Snakes in the Middle East:


#1. Saw-scaled Viper

  • Echis carinatus

Also known as Indian Saw-scaled Viper, Phoorsa, Little Indian Viper, or Sindh Saw-scaled Viper.

venomous snakes in the middle east

  • Adults average 38-80 cm (15-31 in) long. 
  • They have flat, broad heads and very short snouts, with a cross-shaped marking on their heads and remarkably large eyes.
  • Their coloring is gray, olive, and red to match their ground habitat. A series of spots, stripes, and dark borders decorate the body.

The Saw-scaled Viper is one of the venomous snakes in the Middle East responsible for serious bite incidents. It is quite small, but make no mistake! One bite from this viper can cause internal bleeding and death within a few hours.

You’ll find Saw-scaled Vipers in shrublands and deserts. They like to rest inside burrows and fallen logs during the day. They feed on rodents, lizards, scorpions, and centipedes at night. When it rains, adults scramble up to higher trees, shrubs, and cacti. 

Look out for strange S-shaped indents in the sand or listen for loud rasping noises. These are the tell-tale signs that there’s a Saw-scaled Viper nearby. They are highly aggressive and capable of lunging to deliver a bite.


#2. Arabian Horned Viper

  • Cerastes gasperettii

Also known as Gasperetti’s Horned Sand Viper, Horned Viper.

venomous snakes in the middle east

  • These small, stout-bodied snakes can grow 30-60 cm (12-24 in) long.
  • Like most vipers, they have flat triangular heads. In addition, most specimens have horn-like scales above their eyes.
  • Their coloring is tan or gray, perfect for blending into the sand. They have white bellies and a series of dark bars along their backs.

Scorching deserts are home to this devilish-looking venomous snake in the Middle East.

The Arabian Horned Viper is a patient predator, lying in wait beneath the sand with only its eyes protruding. As unwary rodents, beetles, or lizards pass by, this viper strikes with deadly accuracy. 

Cerastes gasperettii. (2023, September 11). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerastes_gasperettii

Arabian Horned Vipers are most active at night, escaping the heat like other desert creatures. When the sun is high, they seek shelter in abandoned animal burrows. Early in the day, however, you might find one basking in the morning sun.

Listen carefully! These venomous vipers will tell you if you’re straying too close to their territory by hissing loudly.

Bite symptoms are serious and include excessive bleeding and convulsions, potentially leading to death. Seek medical assistance at once if you’ve been bitten.


#3. Central Asian Cobra

  • Naja oxiana

Also known as Caspian Cobra, Ladle Snake, Black Cobra, Brown Cobra, Russian Cobra, Oxus Cobra, Trans-Caspian Cobra, and Acellate Cobra.

venomous snakes in the middle east
Caspian cobra. (2023, August 30). In Wikipedia.
  • These heavy-bodied snakes reach 100-140 cm (39-55 in) long. 
  • Their snouts are blunt and short with large nostrils.
  • They are shades of brown or yellow with dark bands across their throats.

The Central Asian Cobra is INCREDIBLY VENOMOUS. One bite is potent enough to kill 40 adult humans! Fortunately, it avoids humans and prefers to escape if approached. 

Look for this venomous snake in the Middle East in rocky foothills, shrublands, and forests far from civilization. Central Asian Cobras are fantastic climbers and capable swimmers. They feed on rodents, amphibians, fish, and birds, then hide in tree hollows to rest. 

Central Asian Cobras are terrifyingly aggressive if cornered, especially juveniles. First, they will spread their hoods and sway from side to side while hissing a warning. Then, as a last resort, they repeatedly strike with astonishing speed. Stay back!


#4. Alburzi Viper

  • Vipera eriwanensis

Also known as the Armenian Steppe Viper.

venomous snakes in the middle east
Credit (right image): ttadevosyan76 via Wikimedia Commons
  • These small snakes are only 29 cm (11 in) long on average.
  • Body colors range from gray to brown, with distinctive black zigzag bands from their necks to their tails. 
  • On each side of the body, there are dark patches arranged in a checkered pattern.

The Alburzi Viper makes its home in the Middle East in rocky grasslands and subalpine dry steppes. This snake has a mild disposition, and you might find one lazily basking in the sun. It’s most active during the day, hunting for small lizards as its favored meal choice.

Although the Alburzi Viper is an obscure species that hasn’t been studied much, you best tread with caution if you come across one. Its venom is reported to cause pain, swelling, necrosis, respiratory distress, convulsions, and even death. 

Seek medical care right away in the event of a bite!


#5. Armenian Viper

  • Montivipera raddei

Also known as the Armenian Mountain Adder, Armenian Mountain Viper, Caucasus Viper,  Radde’s Mountain Viper, and Rock Viper.

venomous snakes in the middle east
Credit (left image): Tim Vickers, (right image): Harold van der Ploeg, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Adults grow to an average length of 79-99 cm (31-39 in), with males being larger.
  • There is a single large scale on each eye, looking like a slightly protruded eyebrow.
  • The head is marked with deep black bands that extend from the back of each eye toward the neck. There are also teardrop markings on the top.

This venomous snake hangs out in the Middle East in rocky landscapes, grasslands, and forests. Occasionally, it finds its way into agricultural lands, searching for its favorite meal—mice and locusts. 

Armenian Viper Range Map

Montivipera raddei. (2023, June 30). In Wikipedia.

Armenian Vipers are nocturnal hunters. When the sun sets, they set out to ambush sleeping lizards, small mammals, rodents, and birds.

As soon as baby Armenian Vipers hatch, these juvenile snakes are already equipped with venom potent enough to seriously harm an adult human! Although fatalities are rare, the bite of an Armenian Viper can cause intense pain, swelling, internal bleeding, necrosis, and respiratory failure. Watch out!


#6. Borkin’s Carpet Viper

  • Echis borkini

Also known as the Yemen Carpet Viper.

Look at pictures of this venomous snake here!

  • These small, scaly snakes are 30-90 cm (12-35 in) long on average.
  • Body colors include shades of brown, gray, and orange. In some specimens, there are dark-edged blotches along the back. 
  • Their pear-shaped heads are easily distinguishable from their necks. They also have slender tails.
  • The snout appears short and rounded, while the eyes are relatively large.

Borkin’s Carpet Vipers are found exclusively in the dry desert regions of Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the Middle East. These nocturnal hunters come out when the sun sets, tracking down food in the form of mammals, birds, lizards, scorpions, centipedes, and other snakes.

Borkin’s Carpet Viper Range Map

Echis borkini. (2022, November 18). In Wikipedia.

Don’t let the unassuming size of the Borkin’s Carpet Viper fool you! This small but terrible snake is irritable, aggressive, and is packed with highly lethal venom. When threatened, a Borkin’s Carpet Viper will move its body into C-shaped folds, rubbing its scales together to make a hissing sound. When it does, respect its warning and back away slowly.

Victims who get bitten by the Borkin’s Carpet Viper might get lulled into a false sense of security. This snake’s venom takes time to work its way into the body. However, a few days after the bite, blood clotting and hemorrhage may occur. It’s crucial to seek immediate treatment if you’ve been bitten!


#7. Desert Horned Viper

  • Cerastes cerastes

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

  • 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 the Saharan Region and the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East, 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! 


#8. Field’s Horned Viper

  • Pseudocerastes fieldi

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

  • 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 the Middle East 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!


#9. Khosatzki’s Saw-scaled Viper

  • Echis khosatzkii

Also known as Dhofar Carpet Viper.

  • Adults are 40-46 cm (16-18 in) long on average.
  • This species is usually light brown or tan, with dark crossbands or spots on the back. The belly is plain and lighter in color than the rest of its body. 
  • Some specimens have narrow heads, while some have broad heads, depending on their natural range.

Khosatzkii’s Saw-scaled Vipers are a rare species you can only find in Oman and Yemen in the Middle East. Amidst the dry, rocky deserts, these snakes thrive by staying close to water sources. Occasionally, they even find their way into people’s gardens!

Echis khosatzkii. (2022, November 18). In Wikipedia.

Come feeding time, Khosatzkii’s Saw-scaled Vipers prey on the land’s fattest, juiciest lizards. Unlike other snakes that hide under rocks or burrows, these vipers are not afraid to hang out above ground among bushes. They’re highly venomous, fierce, and can hold their own!

When it feels threatened, the Khosatzkii’s Saw-scaled Viper rubs its specialized scales together, producing the raspy “sawing” sound that it’s named for. If you get bitten, watch out for initial symptoms such as blistering, headache, and vomiting. If left untreated, these could lead to seizures, necrosis, and hemorrhage. Hurry to the nearest hospital if you suspect a bite from this snake!


#10. Latifi’s Viper

  • Montivipera latifii

Also known as Iranian Valley Viper, Lar Valley Viper, and Damavandi Viper.

Credit (left image): Omid Mozaffari, (right image): Mohammad Amin Ghaffari, via Wikimedia Commons
  • These vipers are small, only growing up to 70-78 cm (28-31 in) long.
  • Some specimens have a dorsal midline stripe, while others have a zigzag pattern or blotches on their backs. 
  • They have thick bodies and short tails. The head is slightly elongated, triangular, and distinct from the neck. 

The Latifi’s Viper is a truly rare wonder from the Middle East. This venomous snake only occurs in the Lar Valley of the Alborz Mountains in Iran. What makes them even more special is that nowadays, you can only find this species within the Lar National Park, a highly protected sanctuary. 

Latifi’s Viper Range Map

Montivipera latifii. (2023, October 23). In Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, the Latifi’s Viper is an endangered species urgently facing the threat of extinction. Many factors are to blame, including habitat loss due to excessive herd grazing and shrub burning. On top of that, these snakes are being collected too frequently for antivenom production.

In the daytime, Latifi’s Vipers prowl the land for grasshoppers, mice, and lizards. They may move sluggishly throughout the day, but don’t let that fool you. These venomous snakes can strike quickly! Their bites can result in extreme pain, vomiting, and respiratory distress. In the worst cases, necrosis or death may occur, so consult a doctor immediately if you get bitten!


#11. Arabian Cobra

  • Naja arabica

  • Adults grow up to 240 cm (94 in) long.
  • Their heads are broad and flattened with round snouts.
  • The coloring is brown, copper, or dark gold, with pale throats and bellies.

It’s rare to see this venomous snake in the Middle East.

That’s because Arabian Cobras live in remote areas in the hottest deserts of the world! They stay close to the sparse vegetation and bodies of water in oases. During the day, they hunt frogs, small mammals, birds, and other snakes.

Guard your eyes! The Arabian Cobra can spray venom from 8 feet (2.4 m) away. As with other cobras, it will raise its forebody off the ground and spread its neck hood when confronting threats. This snake can be wildly unpredictable, so stay away.

Arabian Cobra venom is neurotoxic, attacking the nervous system and causing paralysis. Within hours, the lungs can shut down, resulting in death. There might not be pain or swelling in the bite area, but don’t let that fool you. Seek medical attention immediately!


#12. Lebanon Viper

  • Montivipera bornmuelleri

Also known as Bornmueller’s Viper.

Credit: Mickey Samuni-Blank via Wikimedia Commons
  • These small snakes are 47-75 cm (19-30 in) long on average, with males being larger and brighter in color. 
  • Their body colors range from gray, tan, and brown to black. You’ll notice a fragmented pattern of bars and blotches on their backs. 
  • Their tails are short, with a yellow tip. They have large, triangular heads distinct from their necks. 

Hidden in the heart of cedar forests, alpine grasslands, and shrublands in the Middle East is the extremely rare Lebanon Viper. Every September, these snakes take to the top of rocky mountains to hibernate for the winter. Then, by May, they migrate downhill to spend their summers where it’s lush and warm. 

Lebanon viper. (2023, April 16). In Wikipedia.

Sadly, Lebanon Vipers are endangered. Their natural habitats are threatened by herd overgrazing, development of roads, and tourism activities. With fragmented populations, it becomes harder for them to find a mate.

Be careful around animal burrows and tall bushes where Lebanon Vipers might be hunting for mice, voles, lizards, and small mammals. These vipers are highly venomous, and one bite can send a healthy adult to an urgent trip to the hospital! Symptoms may include dizziness, respiratory distress, internal bleeding, and heart failure. Remember, timely administration of antivenom is crucial to save lives!


#13. Palestine Viper

  • Daboia palaestinae

Also known as Palestinian Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow 70-90 cm (28-35 in) long.
  • They are stout-bodied snakes with short, tapered tails, flat heads, and blunt snouts.
  • You can find dark V-shaped markings on the top and on both sides of the head.
  • Their coloring is brown, gray, and olive, with dark bands and zigzags.

This highly venomous viper makes its home in the Middle East in forests, hills, marshlands, and coastal plains. Palestine Vipers are nocturnal predators, ambushing rodents, small mammals, birds, and lizards that sleep at night. 

The Palestine Viper prefers places where rat populations and water sources are abundant. Unfortunately, these tend also to be places where humans live and farm, and this species is responsible for most of the snake bites in its native range.

To steer clear of this venomous snake in the Middle East, listen carefully for loud hissing noises! Palestine Vipers often loiter on tree branches high above the ground. Thankfully, they aren’t immediately aggressive and prefer to escape if disturbed. 


#14. Levantine Viper

  • Macrovipera lebetinus

Also known as the Lebetine Viper, Levant Viper, Lebanese Viper, Blunt-nosed Viper, West-Asian Blunt-nosed Viper, Mountain Viper, Coffin Snake.

  • Adults are 150 cm (59 in) long on average. 
  • Usual body colorations include gray, beige, or tan. They’re spotted or striped brown and blue along their bodies.
  • True to their common name, “Blunt-nosed Viper,” they have blunt snouts. They also have flat, broad, triangular heads.

Lurking among the mountain valleys, rocky hills, and shrublands of the Middle East is the Levantine Viper, a true master of disguise. By day, this snake hides under the cool shade of trees or stakes out near water holes.

When the sun goes down, the Levantine Viper positions itself to catch lizards, birds, and rats (juvenile vipers, on the other hand, prefer to eat insects). Though sluggish and unmoving for the most part, this viper will strike with astonishing speed at any passing prey! 

Unfortunately, this highly venomous species frequently finds its way into urban areas searching for mice. Bite incidents from Levantine Vipers are common, causing abdominal pain, blistering, internal bleeding, and death in the worst cases. If you get bitten, seek medical help at once!


#15. Moila Snake

  • Malpolon moilensis

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

  • 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 the Middle East 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.


#16. Mount Bulgar Viper

  • Montivipera bulgardaghica

Also known as Bolkar Viper, Bulgardagh Viper, Central Turkish Mountain Viper, and Kulmac Daglari Viper.

Credit (left image): Tim Vickers, (right image): Tim Vickers, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Adults are 67-89 cm (26-35 in) long on average. 
  • Body colors are gray or light brown, contrasted by blotches and dark zigzag bands along the back. This zigzag strip merges into a single line towards the tail. 
  • Its triangular head is distinctly larger than its thin neck and is covered with small ridged scales.

Named for its exclusive habitat in the Bulgar Dagh mountains of Turkey, the Mount Bulgar Viper is an incredibly elusive species whose biology isn’t fully known. What we do know is that it thrives in rocky landscapes where bushes and trees are abundant. Rarely, some specimens have found their way into nearby farms and suburbs!

Mount Bulgar Viper Range Map

Mount Bulgar viper. (2022, November 18). In Wikipedia.

Mount Bulgar Vipers have quite the temper, and captive specimens are recorded to feed aggressively on rodents. They’re most active in the daytime, especially during their mating seasons between May to September.

Though the venom of Mount Bulgar Viper is not sufficiently studied, you’d be wise to stay alert in its natural range. After all, viper bites, in general, are known to be extremely painful and can be deadly in a short amount of time. Keep your wits about you, and rush to the nearest hospital if you are bitten by any snake!


#17. Oman Saw-scaled Viper

  • Echis omanensis

Also known as Oman Carpet Viper.

Credit (left image): L.neymark via Wikimedia Commons
  • Adults are 61 cm (24 in) long on average, with males being slightly larger. They have long tails.
  • They’re typically dark brown or gray. Along the back, there are prominent dark blotches and rectangular bands.
  • They are dark bands running from the nostrils towards the eyes and even further back. 

If you find yourself in the Hajar Mountains of the Middle East, you might encounter the elusive Oman Saw-scaled Viper. In the winter, this snake species hibernates at the top of rocky terrains. But when it gets warm, it migrates downhill to hunt among trees and shrubs near water sources. 

Oman Saw-scaled Viper Range Map

Echis omanensis. (2023, August 13). In Wikipedia.

Oman Saw-scaled Vipers are ambush predators. Particularly excited after a light rain, they position themselves near mountain wadis and shallow ponds. Here, they patiently wait for their favored prey: frogs and toads emerging from the water! Birds who come in for a drink aren’t safe, either. 

These venomous vipers pick out their favorite hunting grounds and resting spots, and they stay within the vicinity for several years. 

Not much is known about the venom of the Oman Saw-scaled Viper. Of course, it’s best to treat them with caution like the rest of their deadly viper cousins. In one recorded bite incident, the patient experienced extreme pain and swelling. Thankfully, he was quickly treated with polyvalent antiserum.


#18. 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.

  • 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 the Middle East. 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! 


#19. Persian Horned Viper

  • Pseudocerastes persicus

Also known as the Persian Horned Desert Viper, False Horned Viper, and Eye-horned Viper.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can range between 45-116 cm (18-46 in) in length. They have stout bodies and short, slender tails.
  • There are scaly horn-like protrusions above their eyes, but not as prominent as their horned cousins. Hence, the common name “False Horned Viper”.
  • They have broad, flat heads distinct from their necks and short, rounded snouts.

Sandy, limestone deserts, and rocky hills are home to Persian Horned Vipers in the Middle East. They’re shy creatures who prefer to stay far away from human habitations. You’ll find them hiding underneath boulders, inside rodent burrows, and amidst tall grasses.

Persian Horned Vipers have quite the appetite. Their favorite meals include lizards, mice, birds, small mammals, and arthropods. Plus, they’re not one to waste dead food if they come across one! These vipers are generally sluggish, but they can move sideways, straight forward, or in S-shaped curves to suit the terrain. 

Although Persian Horned Vipers prefer to escape when confronted, they won’t hesitate to bite if they feel cornered. First, they will loudly hiss at you to announce a warning before coiling into a striking position. Their venom is still poorly studied, but it’s reported to cause intense pain, swelling, and internal bleeding. Thankfully, antivenom is available for this species.


#20. Razi’s Viper

  • Macrovipera razii

Also known as Iranian Giant Viper.

You can see pictures of this venomous snake HERE!

  • These robust vipers are about 150 cm (59 in) long on average.
  • Some specimens have shiny black backs with dark bellies that are faintly spotted. 
  • In other regions, specimens have brownish-gray bodies with a crossbanded pattern on the back. Their bellies are pale colored with small black dots.
  • They have broad, triangular heads that are distinct from their necks. Their blunt, rounded snouts are covered with heavily ridged scales. 

This highly elusive venomous snake in the Middle East is a resident of dry, rocky mountains.

Razi’s Vipers spend their long, cold winters hiding in deep cavities on top of rocky canyons. When spring comes, they move downhill to hunt for food near springs, wetlands, and lush greenery.

When it’s time to dine, the Razi’s Viper has quite the appetite. It preys on rodents, birds, small mammals, lizards, and even fellow snakes.

If a Razi’s Viper feels threatened, it will hiss loudly and coil its body into an S-shaped stance. When this happens, respect the snake’s warning and back away slowly. This snake is ill-tempered, and its bite can be extremely painful.

Scientists have yet to study the full effects of this rare species’ venom, but it’s best to keep your distance from this deadly viper!


#21. Spider-tailed Horned Viper

  • Pseudocerastes urarachnoides

Also known as Spiny-tailed Horned Viper, Iranian Spider Viper, Iranian Spider-tailed Viper, False Horned Viper. 

  • Adults are 55-86 cm (22-34 in) long on average. 
  • Their bodies are covered with heavily ridged scales and are mostly colored brown, gray, tan, or cream.
  • Also nicknamed “False Horned Viper,” this species has minor horn-like scales on top of their eyes.
  • The surest way to identify this snake is to look for its orange bulb-like tail, surrounded by long droopy spikes (unmistakably looking like a spider in action)! 

The Middle East is teeming with unique and beautiful creatures, and among its most spectacular inhabitants is the Spider-tailed Horned Viper. As its name promises, this viper employs a hunting technique to attract prey like no other: a tail disguised as a moving spider!

With its body full of scales, the Spider-tailed Horned Viper sits perfectly camouflaged among cracks and holes in the rocks. Then, it repeatedly moves the tip of its treacherous tail into a number 8 figure, catching the attention of passing birds and snakes.

rbrausse, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sure enough, these predators get close enough to strike at what they think is a vulnerable spider. Finally, the true hunter strikes faster than the victims can realize that they’re actually the prey!

Unfortunately, the populations of this magnificent creature are dwindling in the wild. The Spider-tailed Horned Viper’s natural range is very limited, to begin with, and it’s highly coveted and poached by snake collectors.

The venom of this species is both cytotoxic and neurotoxic, which means it targets the cells and the nervous system of its victims. Thankfully, there has never been a recorded case of a human being bitten by the Spider-tailed Horned Viper in the wild. 


#22. 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 the Middle East, 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!


#23. Halys Pit Viper

  • Gloydius halys

Also known as the Siberian Pit Viper, Halys Viper, Pallas’s Pit Viper, Asiatic Pit Viper, Asiatic Moccasin, and Mongolian Pit Viper.

  • The Halys pit viper can grow to a maximum length of 59 cm (23 in).
  • Their coloring is gray, red, pale brown, or yellow, with large dark spots, crossbars, and a white belly speckled with gray or brown.

The Halys Pit Viper is a venomous snake found in the Middle East.

Its habitat includes montane slopes and plains or rocky high mountain plateaus. It is a terrestrial snake, mostly found on the ground. Look for this species during the day, which is its preferred time to hunt. Its diet includes lizards, rodents, snakes, birds, and frogs.

Keep a respectful distance if you see the Halys Pit Viper! This is an incredibly dangerous snake. Its venom contains neurotoxins, which affect the brain and nerves, and necrotoxins, which cause bleeding and infection.

Bite symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the amount of venom exposure. Victims have reported excruciating pain, severe swelling, bruising, blistering, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, respiratory distress, dizziness, collapse, or convulsions. The best way to avoid being bitten is to be cautious in this snake’s range and back away slowly if you discover one.


Make sure to check out these guides to other animals found in the Middle East!


Which of these venomous snakes have you seen before in the Middle East?

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