What Types of Snakes Live In The Desert?

Are you curious about the different habitats of snakes?

You know some snakes like more humid environments and some like dryer environments, but you don’t know which ones.

What types of snakes live in the desert?

All types of snake, including rattlesnakes, adders, vipers, boas, and cobras, live in deserts worldwide. Snakes do well in this environment due to their cold-blooded nature, the ability to eat only once every couple of weeks, and the ability to conserve and absorb water from different sources.

what types of snakes live in the desert

Desert Snakes Around The World

While all types of snakes live in the four types of desert worldwide, some are endemic to specific regions—endemic means they are only found in one location on the planet.

The Americas

There are four major deserts in the United States: the Mojave, Chihuahuan, Sonoran, and Great Basin.

The Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts also stretch into Northwest Mexico.

South America has desert regions along its West coast, stretching partially into Bolivia.

Many snakes live in these regions across these two continents.

The Mojave Desert sidewinder is a small rattlesnake with tan, white, and black patterned scales and two horns at the front of its head.

Adults tend to be an average of 20″ inches (51 cm) long.

This sidewinder lives primarily in the Mojave Desert, in areas from the Southwest of North America to the Northwest of Mexico.

Though its body waves back and forth, it moves sideways across the sand, leaving a distinctive j-shaped trail.

This type of movement helps with avoiding skin burns from the hot sand.

While it is venomous, its bite is not usually fatal to humans.

These North American deserts are also home to a diverse family of rattlesnakes.

Rattlesnakes like Western Diamondbacks, Mojave rattlesnakes, and Mojave green rattlesnakes, are most abundant in the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico.

While they usually grow to lengths of 1-6′ feet (1.8 m), some specimens have been found 8′ feet (2.4 m) long.

These snakes typically keep to themselves and are very shy in temperament.

However, they are also very dangerous if bothered. 

A small species of boa, the rosy boa, lives in the Southwestern United States, Baja, California, and Sonora, Mexico.

Rosy boas are nonvenomous and grow to about 17-34″ inches (86 cm) in length.

They have three distinctive stripes along their back, which come in multiple color variants from pet breeders.

Glossy snakes, also called faded snakes, are a category of nonvenomous colubrid constrictor with several subspecies.

They are most common in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico.

They grow to be about 42″ inches (107 cm) long.

Glossy snakes look similar to gopher snakes, with their triangular heads and dark scale patterning on tan scales, but are generally smaller.

Gopher snakes, another nonvenomous colubrid species, live in all four deserts of the Southwestern United States.

However, they have also adapted to different environments, including prairie, brushland, woodlands, and cultivated agricultural land.

Adults reach anywhere from 36-96″ inches (2.4 m) in length.

Gopher snakes have multiple subspecies.

Several species of coral snake live throughout South America.

The desert coral snake, brightly colored in black, white, red stripes, lives in the deserts of West Peru, Northwest Bolivia, and Southwest Ecuador.

Adults reach a length of 35″ inches (89 cm).

Desert coral snakes are extremely venomous.

Africa And The Middle East

While the largest desert in Northern Africa is the Sahara, the continent also has semiarid land in Ethiopia.

The Sahara stretches into the Sinai and Arabian Peninsulas of the Middle East.

Many snakes thrive here and in cultivated human habitats.

Africa has its own group of sidewinders, generally referred to as horn or pit vipers.

The desert horned viper and Sahara sand viper live in the Sahara and the Sinai Peninsula, while the Arabian horned viper lives in the Middle East and the Arabian Desert.

The name pit viper refers to heat-seeking pits on their heads, which help them sense their prey.

The Kenyan sand boa lives in the semiarid deserts, scrub savannahs, and rock outcroppings of Northern Africa.

This is a smaller species of boa, with males only about 15″ inches (38 cm) long and females 26-32″ inches (81 cm) long.

These snakes spend much of their lives buried in the sand.

The Egyptian cobra lives in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the deserts of North Africa.

This snake is dangerous and venomous.

It is often found in cultivated areas, searching for prey in homes and on farmland.


Eastern Asia has three prominent deserts, the Gobi, The Karakum, and the Thar.

A few snake species live in the Gobi Desert.

The Gobi Desert has two endemic pit vipers: the Central Asian pit viper and Haly’s pit viper.

These are both venomous snakes which also use their heat-seeking pits for hunting their prey.

Haly’s pit viper measures 20-28″ inches (71 cm) long as an adult. 

The European adder, also found in the Gobi Desert, has a widespread habitat range from Europe to Japan.

Adults measure at about 22″ inches (56 cm) long.

They are venomous, but their bites are rarely fatal to humans.


Australia is almost exclusively arid or semiarid desert.

Many snake species live in Australian deserts.

Among them are some of the most dangerous venomous snakes in the world.

The desert death adder is one of the most venomous land snakes in the world.

They live in remote areas and rocky outcrops of Central and Western Australia.

Adults grow to about 28″ inches (71 cm) long.

This species is under threat due to habitat destruction.

The inland taipan is endemic to semiarid regions of central east Australia, specifically the black soil plains.

Adult snakes average almost 6′ feet (1.8 m) in length, with larger specimens reaching 8′ feet (2.4 m).

This taipan has the most toxic venom of any reptile when tested on human heart cell culture.

Australia has its own group of thirteen species of coral snakes, called simoselaps.

These are venomous colubrid snakes which live in arid regions across the continent.

These subspecies include the northern desert banded snake, the Australian coral snake, and a subgroup of shovel-nosed snakes.


We hope you have enjoyed learning what types of snakes live in the deserts of the world.

All types of snakes have adapted to living in desert habitats.

Snakes do particularly well in the dry heat due to their cold-blooded nature and the ability to survive on eating less frequently. 

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