Nigeria is not left out from the list of countries infested with poisonous snakes. In this article, I’ll be revealing the top 10 most dangerous snakes in Nigeria. You’ll also get to see the most dangerous snakes in West Africa, the most dangerous snakes in Africa and snake death toll on humans.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria popularly referred to as the “Giant of Africa” stands as the most populous country on the African continent. It also has the biggest infrastructural development in Africa and it is the economic capital of Africa.
Nigeria boasts of diverse landscapes, open fields, rural, sub rural and urban environs and climatic conditions, from deserts to rainforest, coastal plains, mangroves, and vast savannah.
These diverse habitats hold some of Nigeria’s wide array of flora and fauna, including snakes. The Bible says that God made man and serpent enemies. There are over 250 species of snakes found in Nigeria.
Top 10 Most Deadly Snakes In Nigeria
Some snakes have been notorious and have earned themselves a bad reputation such as the Black Mamba and others that are harmless like the Spotted Bush Snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus).
Don’t let your fear of snakes stop you from exploring Africa’s breathtaking scenery and checking out some of the most beautiful places in Nigeria.
Not everyone is a big fan of snakes. Some prefer to kill them, eat them and a handful of Nigerians keep snakes for a pet but whichever way you prefer to treat snakes these are by far the most dangerous snakes found in Nigeria.
1. West African Carpet Viper (Very Venomous)
The West African Carpet Viper also known as the Ocellated carpet viper (Echis ocellatus) is a venomous serpent, endemic to the countries of West Africa is responsible highest number of snakebite-related fatalities in Africa. This Carpet Viper stands as the most dangerous snake in Nigeria. This snake accounts for 69% of snake bite-related death in Nigeria, causing over 1,450 deaths nationwide.
The West African carpet viper is a very small snake approximately 20 inches in length. Carpet Vipers are typically yellowish-brown in color with dark spots along the side of their bodies. These spots are designed to confuse potential predators.
The carpet viper is found in the Northern parts of Nigeria where it attacks farmers who come to harvest crops. Echis Ocellatus has haemotoxic venom which causes internal bleeding and destroys the circulatory system add death occurs in days.
The carpet viper usually forms coils and rubs itself together to create a loud sizzling sound to alerts predators of its presence.
2. African Rock Python (Very Dangerous)
The Python sebae also called African Rock Python is a very large non-venomous snake native to Nigeria and found across the African continent. Like all pythons, the African Rock python kills its prey by constriction and swallowing them whole.
Although it very rarely kills humans, this snake is usually feared because of its enormous body and strength. Large pythons (usually found in Western Africa & India) “would have no difficulty in eating adult humans.” – Wikipedia.
Phythons have been sited all over Nigeria from Lagos, Abuja, Ondo, Benin, Port Harcourt, Anambra and Benue states. this is one of the most popular snakes in Nigeria.
That notwithstanding, the African Rock Python is worshiped/respected in some part of Nigeria, Kenya, and other Sub Saharan Africa Countries, while others see them like wild game and a good source of protein.
The African Rock Python is one of the 6 largest snake species (Green Anaconda, Reticulated Python, Burmese Python, Indian Python, And Amethystine Python) which are all found in mangrove and rainforest across the world.
3. Puff Adder (Very Venomous)
The Bites Arietans commonly known as the Puff Adder is known to be one of Africa’s deadliest snake and among the most venomous snakes in the world. Puff Adders hold the highest human fatalities from snakebite in Africa.
This is a common species of snake in Nigeria but is usually found in populated rural communities. Puff adders stretch 1-2 meters in length and have a distinctive face and nose.
They are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, these snakes can blend into any environment as their color patterns vary depending on where they live. It is found in rural areas and contraction sites all around Nigeria.
Puff adders use its exceptional camouflage ability for protection and remain still instead of fleeing from predators and danger. Because of this, people are bitten after accidentally stepping on them.
4. Gaboon Viper (Very Venomous)
The Gaboon vipers (Bitis Gabonica) are one of the most dangerous snakes in Nigeria. This snake is popular in the eastern part of Nigerian, also found across East and West Africa where its camouflage ability makes it also invincible and attacks farmers who step too close.
Gaboon Vibers are popular in Anambra states. Where they have frequent encounters with farmers. The Gaboon Viper lies still on the forest floor where its brown skin blends with dry grass.
The most distinctive features of the Gaboon Viper are the horns slightly above its nose/snort, leaf shape head, fat short body (4 to 6 feet), triangle patterns and of course long fangs.
The Gaboon vipers possess the longest fangs (up to 2 inches, the length of your pinkie finger) in the serpent world. The gaboon viper is responsible for over 200 snakebites related to death in Nigeria each year.
5. Egyptian Cobra (Very Venomous)
The Egyptian cobra (Naja haje) is one of the largest species of venomous snakes in the world, with lengths of around 6-8 feet. It is found in North Africa above the Sahara, and in some parts of West and East Africa. There have also been frequent sightings in Lagos, Ondo, Benin and the eastern parts of Nigeria.
This snake comes in a variety of colors from brown to black and sometimes copper-red. The Egyptian cobra is known for its deadly neurotoxin venom and large hollow fangs that cause death due to respiratory failure once bitten.
When threatened, Egyptian cobras will assume an upright posture and spread their characteristic cobra hood as a warning before striking and live close to human settlement where they hunt for their favorite meal, rats.
6. Boomslang (Mildly Venomous)
Dispholidus typus commonly known as the Boomslang or “Green Snake in Green Grass” in Nigeria and “tree snake” in Afrikaans, stands as one of the most dangerous snakes in Nigeria and lives very close to humans.
The Boomslang is native to sub-Saharan Africa and known as one of the most venomous snakes on the continent. This snake has exceptionally large eyes and measures around 5 – 6 feet.
Its venom is haemotoxic, which disturbs the body’s natural blood-clotting mechanism causing uncontrollable external and internal bleeding if not treated immediately but human fatalities are rare.
It lives its holes (in fences or on the floor) and trees where it hunts for lizards, rats, poultry and other small birds. The males are usually green with black scales and females are brown.
7. Black-Necked Spitting Cobra (Highly Venomous)
The Black-Necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis) is a highly venomous snake responsible for many human fatalities resulted from snakebite every year in its range from Nigeria to Namibia.
This olive-brown colored snake has a black back and a yellow to red belly with a broad, dark-colored hood usually spits when provoked. It can grow up to 7 feet But has a little encounter with humans because it is nocturnal (sleep in the day and hunts at night).
8. Mali Cobra (Highly Venomous)
The Mali cobra (Naja katiensis) also called the Katian spitting cobra, is a species of spitting cobra found in West Africa. This snake is closely related to the Black-Necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis).
This snake is an invasive species that was smuggled into the country by foreign herbalist and is one of the most dangerous snakes in Nigeria.
The Mali cobra is found in tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and scrublands from Northern Ghana, to Cameroon, with recorded sightings in Nigeria, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo, Southwestern Niger, and Senegal.
9. Horned Adder (Super Venomous)
The horned adder (Bitis caudalis) is a small venomous viper (30cm) species found in Nigeria. The horned adder is known for its scaly eyelashes (series of horns above each eye).
Horned adders are believed to have been smuggled into the county and have been branded an invasive species. They are usually sited in the Northern parts of the country in vegetated deserts and farms.
This species of vipers are also found in arid regions of southwest Africa with include Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Mali, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
10. Jameson’s Mamba (Highly Venomous)
Jameson’s mamba is one of the most dangerous snakes in Nigeria. This snake is responsible for over 1,200 deaths in the African plain. Popular in Benue State, it is known for attacking children and farmers who wander too close.
Unlike other venomous snakes that are small in sizes, Jameson’s mamba can grow up to 7 feet and are very very fast in striking and chasing prey and even predators. The Jameson’s mamba is good tree climbers and swimmers.
The Jameson’s mamba is found in deforested areas, rainforests, woodland, forest-savanna and rural communities close to forests throughout Central, West and East Africa.
Jameson’s mamba is a common and widespread snake, especially in West Africa. In Nigeria, it is popular in the Eastern parts of the nation where some know it as the sleeping tree snake. It is often found around buildings, parks, farmlands, and plantations.
According to an article published on NCBI (Snake Bite in Nigeria), only 8.5 percent of snakebite victims in Nigeria seek medical attention in a hospital.
Although the mortality rate for untreated snake bites is unchecked, there have been documented to take between 1 -10 hours due to respiratory failure.
These are some of the most dangerous snakes found in Nigeria and the African continent.