The Flesh-Eating Venom of The African Stiletto Snake

Allow me to introduce you to the African snake that has the longest fangs per head ratio: the Stiletto snake, also known as the Burrowing Asp.

The chances of you actually coming across one of these snakes while wandering around Africa are quite slim because they prefer to through the ground to hunt.  It rarely leaves these underground tunnels except when searching for a mate and sometimes on nights after a rain.

Why stay underground?  It makes perfect sense actually when you realize their primary food source are small mammals such as rodents which nest underground … as well as several burrowing species of reptiles.

So what makes this snake so fascinating?  Quite simply, the fangs.

Muscles inside the snake’s mouth can rotate just one of the fangs outward so that it flips like a switchblade and passes through the still-closed mouth. The stiletto snake then starts to stab the prey by moving its head sideways and backwards.

With its ability to stab backwards with its fangs, the stiletto snake poses quite the challenge to herpetologists who are trying to study this snake.  Unlike most venomous snakes, they are unable grasp it behind its head as – it offers little to no protection from these ingenious fangs.

Unfortunately, no antivenin exists for the stiletto snake which is bad news for the people that live amidst these snakes in their natural environments.   A bite from this snake is extremely painful but typically not fatal.  Unfortunately loss of limb is common.  Other side effects from a bite include severe swelling of the affected area, disorientation, and even nausea.  As noted though, it is not powerful enough to cause human paralysis and death.

But there are people willing to put life and limb on the line (no pun intended) to help save lives abroad through their research.  The fangs of this snake though, makes this a very dangerous undertaking.

Definitely not for the faint of heart, but for those that might be wondering what the venom of this snake can do to a human … check out the video below.  Nothing quite like a flesh-eating venom!

The venom can actually liquefy flesh and bone alike.  Not a pleasant thought and certainly not a very pleasant sight as you are about to see!

After watching the video, I am sure you do not need to be reminded of this, but as he said, ALWAYS got to the hospital after a snake bite!

By Candace,


About Candace M Hansen

Wildlife advocate, conservationist and environmentalist.
This entry was posted in Featured Articles, Snakes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Flesh-Eating Venom of The African Stiletto Snake

  1. Another fantastic article. Great work!!

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