snakes – image, size, distribution, habitat, food, breeding, important notes(venomous or not)


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Chris Mattison

Photographic consultants

David and Jean Hosl<ing




An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd.

1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF First published in 1995

Revised edition 2006 Copyright © Chris Mattison 1995

Chris Mattison hereby asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work and the publisher undertakes to observe such assertion and to impose the same condition on its licencees.

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Source ISBN: 9780007211708

Ebook Edition © JULY 2017 ISBN: 9780007555260

Version: 2017-07-18


Cover Title Page Copyright

Contents Key Introduction

Primitive Burrowing and Specialised Snakes

Western Blind Snake Brahminy Blind Snake Schinz’s Beaked Blind Snake Black Shield-Tailed Snake Asian Pipe Snake

Red Pipe Snake Sunbeam Snake

American Sunbeam Snake

Primitive ‘Boas’ Haitian Wood Snake Cuban Wood Snake Banana Boa

Round Island Boa

Boas (Boidae) Dumeril’s Boa Common Boa Pacific Ground Boa Pacific Boa

Rubber Boa

Baja Californian Rosy Boa Mexican Rosy Boa Emerald Tree Boa Amazon Tree Boa

Cuban Boa

Brazilian Rainbow Boa Javelin Sand Boa Green Anaconda Yellow Anaconda

Rough-Scaled Sand Boa African Sand Boa Madagascan Tree Boa

Pythons (Pythonidae) Children’s Python Spotted Python Papuan Python

Black-Headed Python Calabar Ground Python White-Lipped Python Macklot’s Python

Amethystine (or Scrub) Python Diamond Python

Carpet Python Green Tree Python

Borneo Short-Tailed Python Blood Python

Burmese Python Burmese Python

Royal (or Ball) Python Reticulated Python African Rock Python

Typical Harmless and Back-Fanged Snakes

Arafura File Snake Long-Nosed Tree Snake

Asian Slug-Eating Snake Glossy Snake

Trans-Pecos Ratsnake Mangrove Snake

Brown Tree Snake Scarlet Snake Banded Sand Snake

Western Shovel-Nosed Snake Ornate Tree Snake

Paradise Tree Snake Mussurana American Racer Smooth Snake

Southern Smooth Snake

West African Egg-Eating Snake African Egg-Eating Snake Painted Bronzeback Snake Ringneck Snake

Catesby’s Snail-Eating Snake Boomslang

Large Whipsnake

Indigo Snake Japanese Ratsnake Fourlined Snake Russian Ratsnake Fishing Snake False Coral Snake Mandarin Ratsnake Red-Tailed Racer Horseshoe Snake

Western Hognose Snake Eastern Hognose Snake Southern Hognose Snake Balkan Whipsnake

Dark Green Whipsnake Spotted Night Snake Slender Vine Snake Grey-Banded Kingsnake

Prairie Kingsnake Californian Kingsnake Speckled Kingsnake Mexican Kingsnake

Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake Pueblan Milksnake Honduran Milksnake Sinaloan Milksnake

Californian Mountain Kingsnake Aurora House Snake

Brown House Snake Cat-Eyed Snake Parrot Snake Montpellier Snake Sonoran Whipsnake Coachwhip Snake Viperine Snake

Grass Snake Dice Snake

Green Water Snake Banded Water Snake Northern Water Snake Brown Water Snake Rough Green Snake Smooth Green Snake Vine Snake

Everglades Ratsnake or Eastern Ratsnake

Baird’s Ratsnake Plains Ratsnake

Corn Snake or Red Ratsnake

Grey Ratsnake or Central Ratsnake Fox Snake

Spotted Green Snake

Saddled Leaf-Nosed Snake Sonoran Gopher Snake Northern Pine Snake Dahl’s Whipsnake

Namib Sand Snake Hissing Sand Snake Mole Snake

Central American Ratsnake Asiatic Ratsnake

Ladder Snake Long-Nosed Snake

Western Patch-Nosed Snake Centipede Snake

Rosalia Ratsnake

Clouded Slug-Eating Snake South American Tiger Snake DeKay’s Snake

Red-Bellied Snake Black-Headed Snake European Cat Snake African Tiger Snake

Black-Necked Garter Snake Terrestrial Garter Snake Chequered Garter Snake Western Ribbon Snake Plains Garter Snake Eastern Ribbon Snake Eastern Garter Snake

San Francisco Garter Snake Twig Snake

Lyre Snake Aesculapian Snake Leopard Snake

Burrowing Asps (Atractaspidae)

Cape Centipede-Eater Corpulent Burrowing Asp

Cobras, Mambas, Kraits, Coral Snakes and Sea Snakes (Elapidae)

Death Adder African Coral Snake

Australian Copperhead Banded Krait

Green Mamba Black Mamba

Rinkhals or Spitting Cobra Blue Malayan Coral Snake

Arizona (or Western) Coral Snake Southern Coral Snake

Texas Coral Snake

South American Coral Snake Forest Cobra

Mozambique Spitting Cobra Indian (or Spectacled) Cobra Indonesian Spitting Cobra Black Tiger Snake

Tiger Snake King Cobra

Inland Taipan or Fierce Snake Taipan

King Brown Snake or Mulga Western Brown Snake Australian Coral Snake Bandy-Bandy

Desert Black Snake Sea Krait

Pelagic Sea Snake

Vipers and Pit Vipers (Viperidae) Hairy Bush Viper

Sedge Viper Puff Adder Horned Adder

Many-Horned Adder Gaboon Viper Rhinoceros Viper Peringuey’s Viper Spotted Night Adder Desert Horned Viper Russell’s Viper

Saw-Scaled (or Carpet) Viper Milos Viper

Nose-Horned Viper Asp

Adder Lataste’s Viper Palestine Viper

Cantil Copperhead Cottonmouth

Striped Palm Viper Eyelash Viper Common Lancehead

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Sidewinder

South American Rattlesnake Canebrake Rattlesnake Banded Rock Rattlesnake Black-Tailed Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake Mojave Rattlesnake

Tiger Rattlesnake Western Rattlesnake

Hump-Nosed Viper Bushmaster Massasauga

Pygmy Rattlesnake Pope’s Pit Viper

Sri Lankan Green Pit Viper Index

About the Publisher


The snakes of the world are grouped into 18 families, each containing from one to about 1700 species. Species in the same family are closely related to each other and less closely related to species in other families. Three families comprise small thread-like burrowing snakes that are rarely seen, and these are grouped together in this book. Another family contains two rare snakes known only from a couple of specimens each and details are lacking. Otherwise, each family is represented here by at least one species, with the oldest families first and the most recently evolved ones last. Within each family, the species are listed

in alphabetical order of the scientific names; this keeps similar species together and avoids confusion where a species has more than one common name.


Blind Snakes and Thread Snakes (Anomalepididae, Typhlopidae and Leptotyphlopidae) (See here) are small burrowing snakes, rarely seen on the surface. They are restricted to warmer tropical and subtropical regions. One species is found in south-east Europe.

Dwarf Pipe Snakes (Anomochilidae) are two species of secretive burrowing

snakes from South-east Asia. They have cylindrical bodies and smooth, shiny scales. Very rare and poorly known.

Shield-tailed Snakes (Uropeltidae). Mostly small species, many of which have strange shield-shaped scales at the tip of their tails. Burrowing snakes with cylindrical bodies and smooth shiny scales. They occur in southern India and Sri Lanka.

Asian Pipe Snakes (Cylindrophiidae). Cylindrical burrowing snakes with short tails and smooth scales from Sri Lanka and South-east Asia.

Red (South American) Pipe Snake

(Aniliidae) (See here) is the only

member of its family and is found in northern South America.

Asian Sunbeam Snakes (Xenopeltidae) (See here) are two Asian species with smooth, highly iridescent scales.

Central American Sunbeam Snake (Mexican Burrowing Snake) (Loxocemidae) (See here) is the only member of its family and comes from Central America.

Boas (Boidae). Small, medium, and very large snakes occurring in South and Central America, Africa, Madagascar, and Asia, including the Southwest Pacific region. They live in burrows, on the ground, and in trees. Powerful

constrictors that have live young.

Pythons (Pythonidae). Many large snakes as well as medium-sized ones, from Africa, Asia and Australasia. They live on the ground and in trees. Powerful constrictors that lay eggs.

Round Island Boas (Bolyeriidae) (See here) are found only on Mauritius and adjacent islands in the Indian Ocean. There is one surviving species and one other that is probably extinct.

Wood Snakes or West Indian Dwarf Boas

(Tropidophiidae) (See here) are found in the West Indies, with a few species in Central and South America.

File Snakes (Acrochordidae) (See here) are completely aquatic species found in fresh and marine waters in Asia and Australasia.

Typical harmless and back-fanged snakes (Colubridae) (See here) include three-fifths of all snakes. They are found throughout the world except for the coldest regions and a few small islands. There is great variation in their shapes and sizes and some species are venomous.

Vipers and Pit Vipers (Viperidae) (See here) are venomous snakes with long, hinged fangs. They are found in most parts of the world except Australasia and Madagascar.

Stiletto Snakes and Burrowing Asps (Atractaspidae) (See here) are poorly known burrowing snakes, some of which are venomous. They are found in Africa and the Middle East.

Cobras, Mambas, Kraits, Coral Snakes and Sea Snakes

(Elapidae) (See here) are all venomous snakes. They are found throughout most of the warmer parts of the world except Europe and Madagascar.


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