Snakes in Namibia

In all areas of Namibia there are different species of snakes, most of them harmless, but some extremely venomous.

The Cape Cobra is one of the more dangerous kinds. Its bite paralyses the muscles, respiration and eventually leads to heart failure. One can recognize the snake by its flat throat. If disturbed, it raises its upper body and takes on a threatening posture.


Everywhere in Namibia one can come across a Puff Adder (bitis arietans). The snake is quite easy to recognise: It is short and has a stout, strong body with a broad head clearly offset against the neck. Across the entire body run V-shaped brownish cross stripes with light contours. The puff adder's venom fangs are relatively long. The yellowisch venom destroys tissue, is haemotoxic and causes strong bleeding in the tissue. The snake is not aggressive, but it will bite, if one gets too close or steps on it. In opposite to other snake species that take flight at the slightest tremor in the ground,  puff adders don't recede at intrusion, why they are responsible for the majority of snake bites in Africa.


The likelihood of encountering a poisonous snake is minimal, and the chance to be bitten by a snake is even much smaller. Nevertheless, one should never go for a walk without tough and high shoes, particularly not in high grass. Also avoid to reach into holes in rocks or in the ground.

Who follows these simple safety rules, doesn't need to fear a snake encounter. The risk to be bitten by a snake, is then much smaller than to sustain an injury in a traffic accident.

Should you still get bitten by a snake, keep calm. Any available bandage should be tied tighly above the bitten area to slow down the spreading of the venom through the body. Note precisely what the snake looked like, and consult the nearest doctor who will administer the required anti-venom. If you have been blinded by a Spitting Cobra, the venom must be washed out immediately with milk; water can also do.

Left: Cape Cobra in the Kalahari. Right: Puff Adder, also Kalahari