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10 Snakes That Live In The Desert – #1 Scary!

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key point

  • Snakes don't need much water to survive, so they're especially well-suited to living in deserts.
  • The western diamondback and rattlesnake are rattlesnakes that live in the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
  • Desert habitats are home to two species of snakes with distinct horn-like features on their heads: the horned viper, found in the deserts of southwestern Africa, and the desert viper, found in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East.
  • There are various lizards and a range of animals such as dromedary camels, roadrunners, saigas and sand cats, which also call the desert home.

Deserts are one of the harshest environments on Earth. Most get little to no rain, and when they do, the rain can be severe enough to cause flash flooding. Few creatures live in the desert, but for the few that do, they have to watch out for one thing: desert snakes.

Desert-dwelling snakes inhabit every desert on Earth. From the Australian outback to the deserts of southwestern North America, you're sure to find at least one species of potentially dangerous snake. Unlike mammals, snakes require little to no water to survive, and they're especially well-adapted to life in the desert.

Let's take a closer look at ten of the funniest snakes that live in the desert.

10. Arizona Coral Snake

10 snakes that live in the desert are scary 1
The Arizona coral snake is also known as the western coral snake or coral snake.

© Matt Jepsen/Shutterstock.com

The Arizona coral snake is one of the most brightly colored snakes in the desert. They can grow up to two feet long and have brightly colored red, black and cream stripes on their bodies.

These snakes live in Arizona, New Mexico, and the desert southwest of Mexico. Their diet consists mainly of other snakes and lizards. Although small, they have a strong venom and bites require a trip to the hospital.

9. Western Rattlesnakes

Western rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
The western diamondback ( Crotalus atrox ) is also known as the diamondback or rattlesnake.

©Alexander Wong/Shutterstock.com

The average length of the western diamondback rattlesnake is 5 feet, but can be as long as 7 feet. They have triangular heads, large fangs, and a rattle on the tip of their tails. They have a light brown body with diamond-shaped markings and white and black spots on their tails.

The western diamondback is one of the deadliest snake species in North America. They are venomous snakes that not only sense heat but also deliver a deadly bite that can be fatal if left untreated. They live in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

8. Murga Snake

murga snake
The mulga snake ( Pseudechis australis ), also known as the common king brown snake, lives throughout Australia.

©Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock.com

One of the deadliest snakes that live in the desert, the mulga snake, can grow to be nearly 10 feet long. They are brown all over, with light, round, red eyes underneath. Males grow much larger than females.

Mulga snakes live throughout Australia and can be found in both the outback and the coast. They mainly feed on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and bird eggs. They are highly venomous and have been known to "chew" their victims as they poison them.

7. Angle Adder

angle adder
The largest horn adders grow to two feet.


The horned viper lives in the deserts of southwestern Africa. They are very small, with the largest growing nearly two feet. They have a tan body with dark brown markings and a triangular head with tusks.

Although they are venomous, bites are extremely rare.

6. Mexican bobtail snake

The Mexican bobtail snake ( Sympholis lippiens ) is a rare and little-known species of desert snake.

© Andrew DuBois/Creative Commons – Licensed

These short snakes are the least known of all the snakes that live in the desert. They are only found in the deserts of Mexico. They can be up to 20 inches long and have a stocky body and a short tail. Their bodies are characterized by alternating black and cream stripes.

5. Sonoran gopher snake

gopher snake
The Sonoran gopher snake ( Pituophis catenifer affinis ), also known as the gopher snake, resembles a rattlesnake.

© Matt Jepsen/Shutterstock.com

The Sonoran gopher snake is a desert gopher snake native to the southwestern United States. They can grow up to six feet long and bear a striking resemblance to the more dangerous rattlesnake. Unfortunately, this has resulted in many Sonoran gopher snakes being killed by horrific humans. They have distinct diamond-shaped markings on their bodies, but no rattles.

4. Desert Viper

Saharan horned viper
The desert horned viper has a heavy triangular head and a sand-colored body.

© reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

The desert horned viper is named for the horn-like scales above its eyes. They live in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East. A member of the venomous snake family, they are highly venomous but only as short as three feet long. They have heavy triangular heads and sandy bodies covered in dark brown stripes.

3. Thorn hook-nosed snake

The thorny hook-nosed snake is only found in northern Mexico and southern Arizona.

© Matt Jepsen/Shutterstock.com

Although not well known, these snakes may have one of the most intricate colors and patterns of any snake that lives in the desert. They are over a foot long and have red, black and white markings on their bodies. They only live in northern Mexico and southern Arizona.

2. Rattlesnake Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake crawling in the sand
The rattlesnake ( Crotalus cerastes ) is one of the deadliest snake species in the desert.

© iStock.com/Josh Mitchell

Rattlesnakes are one of the deadliest snakes in the desert. They are common in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They can be distinguished from similar but less dangerous snakes by their heat pits behind the nostrils, large fangs, and rattle.

1. Inland Taipan

fierce snake
The inland taipan is the most venomous snake in the world.

© reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

Number one on our list of snakes that live in the desert is what is known as the most venomous snake in the world. Inland taipans, despite their reputation for having a deadly bite, would rather hide or flee from humans than bite. They live in the deserts of central and eastern Australia.

Inland taipan vary in color from sandy to dark brown, depending on the time of year. They can grow to nearly six feet long, making them one of the largest desert snakes on our list. Unlike some desert-dwelling snakes, the inland taipan eats only small to medium mammals — no birds, reptiles or amphibians.

other reptiles that live in the desert

A gecko from the Namib Dunes, Namibia. Pachydactylus rangei, a reticulate palm gecko in its natural desert habitat. Lizard in the Namib desert, blue sky and white clouds, wide angle. Nature of wild animals.
There are many lizards that are well suited to living in hot, dry deserts.

© Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

There are many kinds of lizards living in the desert. These include side-spotted lizards, zebra-tailed lizards, desert iguanas, chakwala lizards, collared lizards, and leopard lizards. The side-spotted lizard lives in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of North America. It is small and has 3 stripes on each side of its body.

Zebratail lizards are found throughout the southwestern United States and Mexico's Baja California peninsula. This species has a striped pattern on its tail, hence its name, and a dark stripe on its back.

Desert iguanas inhabit parts of the western United States, from California to Texas and south through Mexico, in dry areas such as creosote scrub and sand.

Chuckwallas are large lizards that inhabit rocky outcrops or valleys in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, while collared lizards inhabit open woodlands near streams or rocky hillsides from the south-central United States to northern Mexico. Finally, there's the leopard lizard, which inhabits arid regions such as the wormwood brush that flanks California's Sierra Nevada and stretches all the way to Oregon's Great Basin region.

other animals found in the desert

Besides snakes and lizards, there are many other amazing animals that also make their home in the desert.

One of the most iconic desert animals is the dromedary, known as the "ship of the desert" due to the fact that its humps are used to store fat and serve as a source of food and water when one of them is scarce. boat”, suitable for the hottest and driest habitats. In cool weather, camels can survive for up to seven months without needing water.

The sand cat has also evolved to require little water, as it gets most of its moisture from its food and can move through sand with ease thanks to the thermal protection provided by its dense paw pads.

Another example of an animal adapted to extreme heat is the saiga, a species of antelope known for its large nose, which cools the air that escapes through its nose in summer and heats it up in frigid temperatures.

Another desert creature is the roadrunner. The cuckoo, made famous by the Looney Tunes cartoon, can reach speeds of 20 mph or faster and fly away when needed. Learn more about this incredible desert animal here.

Amazing Desert Animals: Sand Cats
Sand cats evolved for life in the desert and don't need much water at all.

© slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

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The most venomous snake in the world - the inland taipan

© Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock.com

about the author

Brandi Allred

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She has degrees in English and Anthropology and writes horror, science fiction and fantasy stories in her spare time.

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