7 Snake Species found in Namibia

The Namibian environment can be divided into 5 biomes: the Namib desert (1), that occurs like a narrow strip along the Atlantic ocean coast. It is an ancient desert, composed of high sand dunes near the coast and gravel plains inland. There are scattered grass and specialized succulent plants with stunted Acacia trees in the rivers courses. The offshore Benguela Current is responsible for the cold fogs that may extend up to over 50 kilometres inland. The Noma bushy Karoo shrubland (2) is a typical semi-desert habitat which occurs inland of the Namib desert. It has poor and rocky soils with dwarf woody scrub. The succulent Karoo (3) covers the extreme South-western area between the South African border. It has many succulent plants adapted to the contrast between the hot and dry summers and the cool and rainy winters. 99 The generic arid savannah biome (4) is represented by mopane woodland in the North-western area and by thorn Acacia woodland in the central area. Both are open grassy habitats adapted to low rainfall and cold dry winters. The moist savannah (5) covers the eastern regions of higher rainfall and warmer winters (featured image – read below).

Leptotyphlops occidentalis (Family Leptothyphlopidae): It has a slender cylindrical body of light grey-brown colour. It is a small burrowing snake that lives in arid savannah and desert, where it burrows underground and it catches ants and termites. It is possible to find it from Kaokoland to the southern area – within the reptile habitat, it is accepted that this species is endemic of Namibia.

Leptotyphlops occidentalis – Photo from Flickr

Psammophis (Family Colubridae): Many snakes belonging to Psammophis genus live in Namibia: they are commonly called ‘Sand Snakes’, ‘Grass Snakes’ or ‘Whip Snakes’. All have the head distinct from the neck and large eyes with two grooved fangs at the back of the eye. They are fast diurnal snakes and they mainly eat lizards, agamas and small rodents. They are common in arid scrubland and savannah. In spite of this speed, it was possible to recognize them through the many typical brown stripes along the body. For this reason, it is likely to think that one sees the Western Sand Snake (Psammophis trigrammus) or the Stripe-bellied Sand Snake (Psammophis subtaeniatus) or the Leopard Grass Snake (Psammophis brevirostris) in the northern area: precisely at Damaraland and Kaokoland. It is not excluded that they could be also the Striped Skaapsteker (Psammophylax tritaeniatus), which is present in that area. Very often the other two Psammophis in the central and southern area, exactly near Keetmanshoop and along the Namib Naukluft Park, often and most probably misinterpreted with the Karoo Sand Snake (Psammophis notostictus) or the Namib Sand Snake.

Psammophis trigrammus – Photo from University Bonn

Naja nivea (Family Elapidae): The Cape Cobra is indeed very venomous elopid (neurotoxic venom), which lives especially in central and southern Namibia. It is considered endemic of the Southern African Subcontinent. Its habitats are mainly the Noma bushy Karoo shrubland, the thorn Acacia woodland and the Succulent Karoo. It is a slender snake with the variable colouration of the body, generally, which has its body of o light yellow colour. The ‘speckled’ phase of this specific snake is very beautiful and it is characterized by a bright golden-brown colour with a lot of darker flecks.

Naja nivea – Photo from Fotocommunity

Naja nigricollis woodi (Family Elapidae): Also in the South of Namibia, the Black Spitting Cobra. It is widespread in the same zone as the Cape Cobra: it likes the rocky and arid Nama bushy Karoo shrubland. As with the Cape cobra, it is endemic of the Southern African subcontinent. Its venom is less dangerous than the Cape’s but the Black Spitting Cobra can readily spit it. It is uniformly black on all of the body.

Naja nigricollis woodi – Photo from Pinterest

Naja nigricollis nigricincta (Family Elapidae): Often encountered in the northern region, a Western Barred Spitting Cobra (Naja nigricollis nigricincta). This Snake is generally very fast and often hides under a heap of big rocks near roads or mountain hiking trails. They are very often a light colour with a lot of typical black bands on the body. This particular pattern attribute gives this Cobra the name of ‘zebra snake’. As with Naja nigricollis woodi, the Western Barred Spitting Cobra is also able to spit its venom, it is not as dangerous as that of the Cape Cobra. The Western Barred Spitting Cobra is also endemic of the Southern African subcontinent.

Naja nigricollis nigricincta – Photo from Flickr

At Naja Etosha annulifera National anchietae Park, often found in the Okaukuejo Restcamp (Etosha National Park). The Snouted Cobra or Angolan Cobra (Naja annulifera anchietae): once it was called Naja haje annulifera but now it is separated from the species Naja haje and it is recognized as Naja annulifera. Only the subspecies Naja annulifera anchietae lives in Namibia, where it is quite common in mopane woodland, in thorn acacia bushveld and in moist savannah. It is also called the Western Snouted Cobra: the subspecies Naja annulifera lives in the great eastern region that includes South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Notwithstanding these changes of its technical names, it is still known with the most common name of Egyptian Cobra. In every case, this beautiful cobra is characterized by two morphs – the ‘typical’ one has the body of a yellow-grey colour, while the ‘banded’ one has some yellowish bands along its body.

Naja annulifera anchietae – Photo from Goruma

Aspidelaps lubricus lubricus (Family Elapidae): In Namibia, there are three different subspecies of Coral Snake: Aspidelaps lubricus occurs in the southern area, Aspidelaps lubricus infuscatus in the central area and Aspidelaps lubricus cowlesi in the extreme North-western area hear Angola. All have a body of a reddish-orange colour with some black crossbands. They like the Nama bushy Karoo shrubland and the succulent Karoo habitats. It is still not clear if their venom is fatal for humans or not.

Aspidelaps lubricus lubricus – Photo from VenomLand     

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