The Stiletto Snake is a venomous species belonging to the family Lamprophiidae. It is also known as Side-Stabbing Snake, Bibron’s Mole Viper or formerly Bibron’s Burrowing Asp.

This African endemic reptile is responsible for the most bites on humans on the continent after the Puff Adder and the Black-Necked Spitting Cobra.

Currently, there is no subspecies of the Stiletto Snake.

Stiletto Snake Appearance

The Stiletto Snake has a rather atypical appearance for a venomous species. Because of this, many confuse it with other totally harmless species.

Its cylindrical body is very slender and ends in a small pointed tail. Its main color is often uniform, with variations that go from light brown to black. Before its moulting period, it takes a bluish appearance.

Its ventral scales are white or pale yellow. Some specimens also have dark spots all over their belly. Its dorsal scales have a smooth and shiny appearance.

Its head is small and conical, which makes it difficult to distinguish from its neck. Its snout is prominent and forms a slight point. Its eyes are rather small and its pupils are round.

Its fangs are quite big in this species and have the ability to turn on themselves. They are connected to large venom glands that produce its poison.

When the reptile’s mouth is half open, its large venomous fangs come out and allow it to inject its venom without having to open it completely.

Stiletto Snake Size

The Stiletto Snake is one of the smaller snakes. On average, a specimen is only 1ft to 1.5ft (30cm to 45cm), although some specimens reach 2.6ft (80cm).

Stiletto Snake Habitat

The range of the Stiletto Snake is quite large on the African continent. It can be found in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe and Somalia.

This snake is adapted to live in many different habitats. Its favorite places are savannah, woodlands, desert or semi-desert areas and coastal areas.

It also likes to hide in bushes, under rocks, under tree trunks and in termite mounds.

Stiletto Snake Behaviour

Stiletto Snake is a burrowing animal. This nocturnal reptile only comes out of the ground during warm and humid nights to search for food or a mate.

Since it spends most of its time underground, people often step on it or find it while plowing the land. Farmers are therefore the first victims of Stiletto Snakes bites.

When he feels threatened, he prefers to run away and avoid the fight. However, when cornered, it does not hesitate to attack and bite several times.

Its defensive position consists in arching its neck by directing its head towards the ground and forming a shape of “U” reversed with its body. Before attacking, it always shakes its head from left to right to warn its victim.

This species is particularly dangerous to handle. Indeed, it is difficult to take it safely because of its specific fangs. Even when holding it behind the head, it only needs to turn on its side to inject its venom.

Stiletto Snake Venom

The venom of the Stiletto Snake is very toxic. It is mainly composed of cytotoxic and cardiotoxic substances that cause intense local pain, severe swelling, blistering, bruising, lymphadenopathy and necrosis of the affected limb.

Shortly after the bite, general symptoms may appear, such as abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, severe headache, diarrhea, collapse, dizziness and convulsions.

Fortunately, this snake only injects a very small amount of venom when bitten. Currently, no deaths have been reported as a result of one of its attacks. However, some victims have had to have their infected limbs amputated.

Stiletto Snake Treatment

The majority of Stiletto Snake bites occur when handled. This often happens when people think they are dealing with a harmless species. As stated earlier, it cannot be handled safely, unlike other snakes.

Even if a bite of Atractaspis Bibronii is not fatal, it is essential to go to the hospital for examinations. The medical treatment will always be symptomatic because there is no antivenom for the bite of this animal.

What do Stiletto Snakes eat ?

Stiletto Snake eats small mammals like mice, but also frogs and other reptiles. Since it is a burrowing animal, most of its prey comes from the ground.

Stiletto Snake Breeding

There is little information on the breeding of Stiletto Snakes.

We know that it is an oviparous species, that is to say that the female lays eggs. The laying of eggs usually takes place in midsummer. A female lays between 3 to 7 eggs per clutch. At birth, the babies measure about 6in (15cm).

Preservation

The Stiletto Snake is not on the IUCN red list, which means that it is not threatened with extinction.

The only predators of this reptile are some other snakes.

Conclusion

Despite its small size, the Stiletto Snake is an extremely dangerous snake that should not be handled.

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