Fun Horned Viper Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
May 16, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Desert Horned Viper facts about a viper with distinctive horns.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.4 Min

Do you know what Herpetology means? Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians. Snakes fall under the reptile group. In this article, we bring you some exciting facts about Horned vipers.

The Horned viper is a venomous snake distinguished among all desert snakes. There is no possible information about the discovery of these species.

The mummies of these snakes are found in Thebes, on the Nile banks. The other common names are Saharan horned viper, Desert horned viper, African desert horned viper, Greater cerastes, Desert sidewinding horned viper, and North African horned viper.

These cerastes are commonly found in the sands and deserts of Africa, the Sahara, Middle East. They have a very distinctive locomotive nature and move their body sideways, known as sidewinding. In danger, it curls up its body and produces a rasping sound.

These snakes are known to be Horned vipers because of the scales present above the nose and eyes. The horns above the eyes help to protect the eyes from sand.

Go through some more interesting facts about Horned desert vipers. Refer to Nile Monitor and Indian cobra facts articles about other reptile species.

Horned Viper Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a horned viper?

This North African horned viper is one of the types of terrestrial and venomous snakes that belongs to the Viperidae family, whose bite is not usually fatal. The Viperidae family includes the Gaboon viper, Horned viper, Green horned viper, and Horned pit viper.

What class of animal does a horned viper belong to?

The Desert horned viper belongs to the reptile class.

How many horned vipers are there in the world?

The exact number of Desert horned viper Snakes in the world is not known. But these species are widely found in North African regions.

Where does a horned viper live?

The Horned desert viper is the most abundant and venomous snake. Its distribution is found in North Africa, Sahara, the Middle East, Eastern Iraq, western Iran, and Arabia. In the Arabian peninsula, it is one of the most familiar species.

This Viperidae family genus species is divided into three subspecies: C Cerastes, also known as Saharan horned viper (found in North Africa, South-western Arabia), C. Gasperettii, also known as Gasperetti's horned viper, or Arabian horned viper (found in the eastern Arabian peninsula to western Iran), and C Vipera which is also known as Saharan sand-viper.

What is a horned viper's habitat?

The natural habitats of these Desert horned viper species are wadis, abandoned burrows, dunes, well-vegetated desert sand, sandy environments, and rocky hills.

Who do horned vipers live with?

These envenoming snakes are nocturnal species like to live on their own except during mating season or hibernation season.

How long does a horned viper live?

The average life span of these poisonous horned vipers is 14-18 years.

How do they reproduce?

Horned viper cerastes reproduce by mating. The breeding occurs in the sand, usually once a year from April to June. They find their mating partners usually by smell.

The female snake is oviparous species that lays 8-20 eggs, usually under rocks or abandoned burrows. The incubation period is 50-80 days. The snakelet measure 5-6 in (12-15 cm) and are relatively independent by birth.

What is their conservation status?

As per IUCN reports, the conservation status of this Saharan horned viper is Least Concern. Pollution and habitat destruction are affecting the decrease in the Desert horned viper population.

Horned Viper Fun Facts

What do horned vipers look like?

The Horned viper has a flat triangular-shaped head with a thin neck and moderately large piercing eyes on the side. These Africa-based sand vipers have distinctive supraorbital horns above the eyes or nose. These active hunter snakes are found widely in Northern African regions.

They are found in yellowish, reddish gray colors, mostly matching with soil color surface. They have a white belly and light brown blotches on their top. These sand vipers have a short black tip tail.

This tapering black tip tail is very thin in shape. This snake has scales all over its body, with long, rotatable hinged fangs. These fangs directly connect to the venom glands.

Close-up of the mouth of a horned viper.

How cute are they?

The love for these vipers varies from person to person. Usually, all the snake species have earned a negative impression because of their venomous nature. These highly venomous vipers are usually considered dangerous rather than ranked as cute.

How do they communicate?

When these Desert horned vipers communicate with the same species, they usually use chemical signals, signals by using smells or releasing other chemicals. This technique is used while mating also. They have pit organs just behind the nostrils, which help locate warm-blooded animals or other types of prey.

How big is a horned viper?

The average length of the Horned desert viper is 12-24 in (30–60 cm). But it may reach a maximum length of 33 in (85 cm). Usually, female species measure lengthier than males. Its length is around three times smaller than the size of a Rattlesnake, whose length is 36-50 in.

How fast can a horned viper move?

The exact speed of these sand viper snakes is not known. But a sidewinding technique helps to move quickly in the sand deserts. This movement leaves its body impression on the ground and also helps to regulate body temperature in soaring climates. They hunt their prey with a striking speed and eat them as a whole.

How much does a horned viper weigh?

The exact weight of these African desert horned vipers is not known.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the reptiles based on gender. Generally, the female one is known to be a female Horned viper, and the male one is a male Horned viper. Male species have giant heads and eyes compared to females, but females are greater in length.

What would you call a baby-horned viper?

The Horned baby viper is known as a hatchling snake or snakelet. They reach sexual maturity in two years. Though they resemble parents, they are much more active in searching for food than adults. The young one is between 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm) in length.

What do they eat?

Horned vipers are carnivores that mainly depend on terrestrial vertebrates. Their diet includes lizards, rodents, and birds. These snakes immediately attack their prey and paralyze them with their venom. The False-horned viper depends on the scattered trees like Ficus carica, Pistacia khinjuk, and Quercus brantii when in the desert.

Are they aggressive?

The Saharan horned viper is non-aggressive species but may become aggressive if threatened or disturbed.

Would they make a good pet?

This African desert horned viper is usually calm until and unless it's disturbed. Their non-aggressive nature may attract the snake enthusiast, but it may not be a good idea to own the C cerastes as a pet because of their natural habitat and venomous nature.

They may not be considered family pets. Owning snakes or any reptiles needs a lot of experience and training. Still, some snake lovers consider them fascinating creatures.

Did you know...

The horns on the demon-looking creatures are scales.

This snake has many Horned viper adaptations. Though the Saharan horned viper prefers cold temperatures, it adjusts its body temperature as per the surrounding environment and hot, dry areas.

They are active at night times are commonly found burrowing themselves in the sand with eyes and nostrils outside. This technique helps protect themselves from attackers, heat, and sun. The C. Vipera is a snake that does not hiss, as hissing needs robust breath intake, which may eventually result in grains of sand getting into the lungs.

As their diet includes rodents, these snakes help control the rodent population.

Its venom has adverse effects on the heart of a person. Its bite can affect the person's heart directly. And the affected person may feel the heart squeezed with a palm.

They store morning dew in their scales used as a water resource.

Newest snakes in the world: Matilda's horned viper was discovered two years back in Southwest Tanzania and is considered the newest snake in the world. It has spikey horns with black and yellowish scales.

In Egyptian hieroglyphs, the horned viper symbol represents the alphabet phonic sound 'f.'

The venom of the Nose-horned viper and C. cerastes kill breast cancer cells.

There are different types of Horned vipers. They may differ in their color, geographical location.

Some snakes that have horns above the nose are the Nose horned viper and Sahara horned viper.

Some snakes have horns above their eyes: the Persian horned viper or Kenya horned viper, White horned viper, Yellow horned viper, and Field's horned viper.

The Horned bush viper is a type of pit viper that has scales above its eyes that resemble eyelashes. Its other common names are Eyelash viper, Horned palm viper, and Eyelash palm-pit viper. It is primarily found in Central and South America. They are available in vibrant colors like dark green, dark yellow, gray, or brown colors.

The Spider-tailed horned viper is one more type of snake that looks similar to the Horned viper with a unique tail, which looks like a bulb at the end that resembles a spider.

The snake's venom also helps in its digestion of the food.

How many toxins does horned viper venom contain?

The Sahara horned viper venom has 13 different types of toxins. The composition of this toxin varies by geographical location.

Its venom is not fatal, but its Horned viper bite may cause adverse effects on the person's health. The C. Cerastes and C. Vipera species have eight fractions of venom. Venom yields vary from 19–27 mg to 100 mg of dried venom.

The Horned viper cerastes bite may cause common health issues like excessive bleeding, clotting of blood, abdominal pain, massive swelling, kidney failure, and hematuria.

Whenever someone finds such deserted snakes try to stay calm and don't panic as its poison is not fatal. Prevention is better than the cure, so try to use hiking boots or long pants to safeguard yourself before going to places where such snakes are inhabited. Go for immediate medical assistance if you get bitten.

How do horned vipers locate their prey?

These Horned desert vipers are sit-and-wait carnivores that adopt three common ways to catch their prey. The first method is sensing the ground vibrations, the second is by eyesight, and the third is through body heat.

Once it has found the prey, it immediately attacks and injects the venom by making it inactive. When the paralyzed prey dies, the viper uses its sensors to find it and swallow it in one piece.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles, including thorny dragons or mangrove snakes.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Horned Viper coloring pages.

Horned Viper Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Rodents, lizards

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

8-20 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

stony deserts, sandy and scree deserts

Where Do They Live?

North Africa, middle east

How Long Were They?

12-24 in (30–60 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Cerastes cerastes

What Do They Look Like?

Pale gray, pinkish, reddish, pale brown, yellowish

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

wild cats and honey badgers

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

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Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

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