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African Burrowing Snakes: Atractaspididae

Physical Characteristics

The African burrowing snakes have small heads, rounded at the front. Their heads are no larger in diameter than their necks. Only the quill-snouted snake has a head that comes to a point. The members of this family have small, sometimes very tiny, eyes with round pupils. Most have fangs, or long, pointed teeth, at the rear of the mouth, but some have hollow fangs at the front of the mouth. These front fangs swing out to inject venom, or poison, into their prey, animals that they hunt for food, or their predators (PREH-duh-ters), the animals that hunt them for food.

These small to medium-sized snakes are long and thin; adults range in length from about 12 to 40 inches (30 to 102 centimeters), from head to tail tip. Most are black or brown with a different-colored ring around the neck. A few have bright stripes. All have smooth scales, instead of the ridged scales seen in many other snakes.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesAfrican Burrowing Snakes: Atractaspididae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, African Burrowing Snakes And People, Southern Burrowing Asp (atractaspis Bibronii): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, CONSERVATION STATUS