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The Deadliest Snakes in Israel

So this post is about the deadliest snakes in Israel. But it’s good to know that there are only nine venomous snakes in Israel. Now usually Many would describe an encounter with a snake as one of their worst fears. But actually, from forty two different types of snakes in Israel, only nine of them are venomous. And most of them are only to be found in the south of Israel. So as you can imagine this post is about the deadliest snakes in Israel.

Palestine Viper (Daboia palaestinae)

Firstly, let’s begin with the Palestine viper is endemic to the Levant. Like all vipers, it is venomous. And considered a leading cause of snakebites within its range. It grows to a maximum of 130 cm and its geographic range from Beersheba to the north of the country.

Snakes in the Hebrew Bible

Snakes are mentioned in scripture: For example  in Isaiah 11:8 it’s told

“The young child would put his hand into the viper’s nest.”

Usually in the Hebrew Bible snakes outside the story of Garden of Eden are always venomous snakes. And the snake in the Bible is always perceived as man’s worse enemy. And exactly like before the man sinned against God and ate from the forbidden fruit. So as told in Isaiah 11:8, the snake and man will live in harmony once more in the time of the end of days.

The Deadliest Snakes in Israel: The Lebanon Viper

So this snake is reaching a maximum length of 75 cm; the Lebanon viper is to be found in Israel only at Mt. Hermon and the Golan Heights.  In fact, in the wintertime you’ll be lucky (in this case unlucky) to spot the Lebanon viper; because usually at this time of the year he’s rolled up in his den or under a rock. Also being a cold-blooded (poikilotherm) creature; so he must try and save energy in the winter.

Worth mentioning, he is considered very deadly and even though never in Israel a snakebite from a Lebanon viper was never registered. I would recommend you to just try and stay away. Usually when the snake spots humans he runs away unless he is provoked.

The Deadliest Snakes in Israel: Desert Cobra

 Thirdly, the desert cobra is the only cobra we can find in the Land of Israel. This snake is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.

In Isaiah 11:8 It is told: “The infant will play near the Cobra’s den.”

He’s black and shiny, and his head is a little bigger than the rest of his body. He can reach a maximum length of 130 cm and to be found in the Judean Desert, the Arava Valley, and the Negev.

The Deadliest Snakes in Israel: Painted Carpet Viper

A painted carpet viper that just hatched would have a length of about 20 cm and an adult could reach the size of about 80 cm. The painted carpet viper would not lay her eggs in the sand but would use dens, rocks or narrow wadis. Notably is the usage of the snake for medicine in the Middle Ages, especially for fabricating Theriac; medicine to treat poisoning, bites and healing various illnesses. Another key fact about this snake is that you can find him only in the desert. So look for it in the Judean Desert; the Negev; the Arava Valley; the Jordan Valley and even on the slopes of Mt. Gilboa.

The Deadliest Snakes in Israel: Arabian Horned Viper

Surely you should watch out for this type of snake. In Israel you could run into him in the Arava Valley.

The venom of this particular snake is known to be deadly and there is no antivenom.

So pay attention when you walk around there. I guess the only consolation is that till this day there is no registered snakebites by the Arabian Horned Viper in israel till this day.

Chiefly is getting his prey by burying himself in the sand, when his eyes only stick out, lurking for his prey that consist of lizards, small rodents, with insects including beetles and birds. Usually when he feels threatened he will turn around would sound a warning sign and only as a last resort he would try and bite you.

Lastly, he is nocturnal snake and he moves sideways, this way when his body meets with the hot sand only in two areas; this way, he can keep his body cool while traveling through hot sand of the desert. Because he is a snake that can be found in the desert sands his color tend to be light colored like the sand dunes.

The Deadliest Snakes in Israel: Horned Desert Viper

Firstly, it often is easily recognized by the presence of a pair of supraocular “horns”, one over each eye; these may be reduced in size or absent. The color pattern consists of a yellowish color and found in Israel in the northern Negev along the Egyptian border.

These snakes favor dry, sandy areas with sparse rock outcroppings, and tend not to prefer coarse sand. They typically move about by sidewinding, during which they press their weight into the sand or soil. leaving whole-body impressions. Often, it is even possible to use these impressions to make ventral scale counts. They have a reasonable placid temperament, but if threatened, they may assume a C-shaped posture and rapidly rub their coils together.

Because they have strongly keeled scales, this rubbing produces a rasping noise. In the wild they are typically ambush predators, laying submerged in sand adjacent to rocks or under vegetation.

When approached they strike very rapidly, holding on to the captured prey (small birds and rodents) until the venom takes effect.

The Deadliest Snakes in Israel: Sahara Sand Viper

Small (20-30 cm) and stout, it has a broad, triangular head with small eyes set well forward and situated on the junction of the side and the top of the head. Their hunting strategy is unique when compared to that of other Viperidae because they use a combination of both sit-and-wait ambushing and active hunting. The tip of the tail of the females can sometimes be black and to be found in the Negev.

The Deadliest Snakes in Israel: Pseudocerastes

Pseudocerastes are often referred to as false horned vipers because of the horn-like structures above their eyes that are made up of numerous small scales. This is in contrast to the “true” horned viper, Cerastes cerastes, which has similar supraorbital “horns”, each consisting of a single elongated scale. This type of snake is kind of clumsy and long.

The Deadliest Snakes in Israel: Israeli mole viper (Atractaspis engaddensis)

First discovered in 1944 by Heinrich Mendelssohn and Georg Haaz in Ein Gedi, hence its name. The black color and small head distinguish him from all the other venomous snakes we have seen so far. One of the deadliest snakes you can find here in the Land of Israel. Most of the time he will spend his time under the surface or in dens, this is why his head is so small. In Israel we will find him in the Arava Valley, Dead Sea Area, and north to the Jordan Valley; even in the Negev and the Judean Desert. Watch out!

Even though, his habitat is the desert he will find it next to Oases, rivers, and fresh springs where there will be some vegetation, probably because he needs the moisture.  Like I have mentioned their venom is the deadliest known today in Israel. The smallest amount of venom can kill most small rodents. There is no antivenom known till today.


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Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

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