Arabian cat snake (Telescopus dhara)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyColubridae
GenusTelescopus (1)
SizeLength: up to 113 cm (2)

This species has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

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).

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

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

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).

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.

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

To learn more about reptile conservation visit:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  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)
    http://www.jcvi.org/reptiles/species.php?genus=Telescopus&species=dhara
  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.