Atractaspis duerdeni (Beaked stiletto snake, Duerden's burrowing asp)

Haakneussypikslang [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 Beaked Stiletto snake can be identified by the following features; a tail spine, small eyes, a uniform purple or black colour (with a wide underside), a neck arch behind the head, the unique position of its fangs (this makes it impossible to handle), a habit of coiling up with its head under a coil when threatened and its predominately nocturnal lifestyle. It grows to an average length of 40 cm and a maximum length of 55 cm.

Distribution and habitat

Found in central Namibia and part of Botswana and the North West province. Its favoured habitats are arid savanna and karoo scrub.


Eats lizards (particularly lacertids) and other snakes.

Predators, parasites and disease

Eaten by other snakes.


Oviparous (egg-laying).


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.


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