Snakes of Madagascar

Madagascar is home to more than 80 species of snakes, none of which are overtly dangerous to humans. The island has no adders, cobras, mambas, pythons, or vipers— only boas and colubrids. The only terrestrial venomous snakes in Madagascar are rear-fanged, capable of inflicting a painful bite but unlikely to do much harm unless they are able to chew on an appendage (allowing venom to be injected and causing swelling and possible paralysis). In the ocean there are two non-aggressive, but highly venomous sea snakes: the hook-nosed sea snake (Enhydrina schistosa) and the yellow-bellied sea snake (Pelamis platurus). What this all means is you have very little to fear when walking through the bush of Madagascar.

The presence of boas in Madagascar is somewhat remarkable given that their closest relatives are found in the South Pacific and the Amazon Basin. Boas are constrictors that strangle their prey.

One interesting snake in Madagascar that is greatly feared by local people is the harmless "fandrefiala" (Ithcyphus miniatus). The Malagasy believe this arboreal snake drops tail-first from trees while stiffening its body like a spear to stab people or Zebu cattle passing below. Another bizarre snake is the spear-nosed snake, Langaha madagascariensis, which mimics a twig with its unusual nasal appendage.

Selected Malagasy Snakes

Colubridae Colubrids
Compsophis albiventris
Dromicodryas bernieri
Langaha alluaudiFandrefiala (Ithcyphus miniatus)
Langaha madagascariensisMadagascar leaf-nosed snake
Langaha pseudoalluaudi
Leioheterodon geayi
Leioheterodon madagascariensis
Leioheterodon modestus
Liophidium rodhogaster
Liophidium torquatum
Madagascarophis citrinus
Madagascarophis colubrinus
Madagascarophis meridionalis
Madagascarophis ocellatus
Mimophis mahfalensisBig-eyed snake
Pseudoxyrhophus quinquelineatus
Stenophis arctifasciatus
Stenophis betsileanus
Stenophis capuroni
Stenophis carleti
Stenophis citrinus
Stenophis gaimardi
Stenophis granuliceps
Stenophis guentheri
Stenophis iarakaensis
Stenophis inopinae
Stenophis inornatus
Stenophis jaosoloa
Stenophis pseudogranuliceps
Stenophis tulearensis
Stenophis variabilis
TyphlopidaeBlind snakes
Typhlops madagascariensisMadagascar Blind Snake
Typhlops domerguei
BoidaeBoas and pythons
Acrantophis dumerili
Acrantophis madagascariensisMadagascar ground boa
Sanzinia madagascariensisMadagascar tree boa