Atractaspis congica (Eastern Congo Stiletto snake, Side-stabbing snake)

Oos-Kongolese sypikslang [Afrikaans]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Lepidosauromorpha > Lepidosauria > Squamata > Serpentes (snakes) > Family: Atractaspididae > Genus: Atractaspis


The Eastern Congo Stiletto snake can be identified by the following features; a tail spine, small eyes, a uniform purple or black colour, a neck arch behind the head, the unique position of its fangs (this makes it impossible to handle), and its predominately nocturnal lifestyle. It grows to an average length of 45 cm and a maximum length of 55 cm.

Distribution and habitat

Restricted to a small portion of the Caprivi strip. Its favoured habitat is moist savanna.


Eats lizards and other snakes.

Predators, parasites and disease

Eaten by other snakes.


Oviparous (egg-laying), lays between 3 and 6 eggs in summer.


Medical importance

The venom of this snake while not lethal is still dangerous and causes intense pain and swelling and often the loss of fingers. Antivenom is not effective and should not be used.



  • Broadley, D.G. 1983. FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern Africa. Delta Books, Johannesburg.

  • Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishing, Cape Town.


Contact us if you can contribute information or images to improve this page.

Reptiles home   Biodiversity Explorer home   Iziko home   Search