Arabian cat snake (Telescopus dhara)

Adult Arabian cat snake crawling along the ground
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Arabian cat snake fact file

Arabian cat snake description

GenusTelescopus (1)

A highly distinctive species, the Arabian cat snake possesses a large head relative to its body, with striking reddish brown or greenish-grey eyes, with vertical pupils giving it a viper-like appearance (2) (3). The body is reddish-grey or reddish-brown, with individuals exhibiting variable degrees of pale, banded markings. A set of venomous fangs are located towards the rear of the upper jaw (2).

Length: up to 113 cm (2)

Arabian cat snake biology

A nocturnal species, the Arabian cat snake is an active and agile hunter, capable of climbing trees and rock faces to find prey such as fledglings, lizards, rodents and bats (3). During hunting, this species relies on stealth to sneak up on prey before striking and delivering its venom, and it is also known to enter small cracks in rock faces to take sleeping diurnal lizard species. Despite being a venomous, the Arabian cat snake is not aggressive, and unlikely to present a danger to humans (2).


Arabian cat snake range

The Arabian cat snake is widespread within the Arabian Peninsula (2) and North Africa, occurring as far south as Kenya and Tanzania (4).


Arabian cat snake habitat

The Arabian cat snake occupies hills and mountains in arid and semi-arid regions, but appears to be absent from open desert (3)


Arabian cat snake status

This species has yet to be classified by the IUCN.


Arabian cat snake threats

Although it is apparently rare in some locations, such as the United Arab Emirates (3), there are no known significant threats to the Arabian cat snake at present.


Arabian cat snake conservation

The Arabian cat snake is known to occur in a number of protected areas within its range (5).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2009)
  2. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
  3. Vine, P. and Al-Abed, I. (1997) Natural Emirates: Wildlife and Environment of the United Arab Emirates. Trident Press Ltd, London.
  4. J. Craig Venter Institute (August, 2009)
  5. Baker, M.A., Qarqaz, M., Rifai, L., Hamidan, N., Omari, K.A., Modry, D. and Amr, Z. (2004) Results of herpetofaunal inventory of Wadi Ramm Protected Area, with notes on some relict species. Russian Journal of Herpetology, 11: 1 - 5.

Image credit

Adult Arabian cat snake crawling along the ground  
Adult Arabian cat snake crawling along the ground

© Guy Haimovitch

Guy Haimovitch


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This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

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