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Poisonous animals
Cnidarians (Jellyfish, Corals and Anemones)
Venomous fish
Hymenopterans (Bees, Wasps and Ants)
Sea snakes
Terrestrial snakes
Miscellaneous animals
North America
Mexico and Central America
South America and the West Indies
North Africa, Near and Middle East
Central and Southern Africa
The Far East
Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia
Australia and the Pacific Islands

Biological features of terrestrial snakes

North Africa, Near and Middle East



Description of the most important representatives:


General behaviour Habitats
Defensive behaviour Factors relevant to envenoming

Naja sp.


primarily nocturnal



except for desert areas, found everywhere, especially in open habitats; can be found close to human settlements; also in plantations

relatively solid body, wide head, but not substantially distinct from the body; length up 1.5–2 m or more

raising the first third of the body; neck region is spread out into a flat hood (Fig. 4.57)

dangerous snake often found close to humans; responsible for a large number of bites; also enters houses and is known to have bitten victims during the night

Atractaspis sp.





live underground; surface at night or after heavy rainfall

from tropical forests to desert regions

largest species up to 90 cm, small head

non-aggressive during the day – roll themselves into a ball

"bites" occur in victims walking around at night or while handling these snakes; the venom fangs are projected laterally, with the mouth virtually closed, and the fangs are stabbed into the victim via sidewards movements of the head

Bitis arietans


nocturnal, but often lie sunning themselves during the day



common in savannas and grasslands

solid body that appears short; on average barely more than 1 m, although in East Africa up to 1.5 m

loud puffing (thus the name Puff adder); they rarely flee and rely on their markings for camouflage

responsible for large numbers of bites; many bites occur when the snakes are accidentally trodden on

Cerastes sp.


primarily nocturnal



vor allem nachtaktiv


sandy deserts and stony regions with sparse vegetation

Sandwüsten und steinige Gebiete mit schütterer Vegetation

sturdy body; length on average 35–50 cm; "side-winders"

they rub the coils of their body together to produce a clearly audible warning sound, as in Echis spp.

not known

Echis sp.



primarily nocturnal, in cooler weather also active during the day



dry regions, such as sand deserts, semi-arid rocky deserts, steppes and savannas, but also in agricultural areas and gardens

small snakes with an average length of 35 cm (max. 80 cm); slender to sturdy body; "side-winders" 

by continuously rubbing the coils of their body together they produce a clear warning sound similar to that made when two pieces of sandpaper are rubbed together; from this position, they dart forwards rapidly and may strike repeatedly

extremely nervous and agitated; rarely flee; although small, they are among the most dangerous snakes of all; in some areas extremely common and responsible for the most snakebites by far

Vipera sp. 

Macrovipera sp.


nocturnal in warm weather, diurnal in cool



prefer dry and stony habitats; steppes, mountainous areas; but also in forests, agricultural areas and gardens; V. palaestinae prefers damp habitats and is often found close to human settlements

sturdy body with a length of up to 1–1.6 m in the larger species

body is coiled into a taut S-shape; repeated hissing

primarily the larger species are dangerous; V. palaestinae responsible for the most snakebites in Israel by far