The Saharan horned viper is a venomous snake native to the deserts of northern Africa and parts of the Middle East. It often is easily recognized by the presence of a pair of supraocular “horns”, although hornless individuals also occur.
Cerastes are small snakes, averaging less than 50 cm (20 in) in total length (body + tail), but are relatively stout in appearance.
The head is broad, flat, and distinct from the neck.
The head is covered with tubercularly keeled scales, which usually number 15 or more across, and a supraorbital horn may be present over each eye in some species.
They are found in North Africa eastward through Arabia and Iran.
Mallow et al. (2003) describe the genus as being restricted to the deserts of North Africa and southwestern Asia, with the Negev desert acting as a filter zone between the three species mentioned in the table below.
Habits and Lifestyle
Saharan horned vipers are solitary and nocturnal creatures.
They spend their days resting burrowed in the sand, hiding in holes, under rocks, or in abandoned burrows.
They typically move about by sidewinding, during which they press their weight into the sand or soil, leaving whole-body impressions.
Diet and Nutrition
Saharan horned vipers are carnivores. Their diet consists mainly of lizards, but also small rodents, and birds.