Many snakes are nocturnal, though not all. Some well-known nocturnal snake species include ball pythons, boa constrictors, anacondas, and milk snakes. Nocturnal snakes can detect infrared to see the heat signatures of their prey at night.
Species that live in an area where prey is active at night are more likely to be nocturnal as natural selection favors an animal that is self-sufficient.
Another reason some snakes are nocturnal is to avoid diurnal predators like raptors, that could make short work of a snake.
In this article we’ll learn about 11 of the most well-known nocturnal snakes from around the world.
Disclaimer: This is information for entertainment and educational purposes only. Do not approach a wild animal and keep your distance. Only professionals should handle wild animals. Seek professional help immediately if you have been bitten or otherwise harmed. Consult your local wildlife authority for the right advice for your situation and locality.
1. African House Snake
These are small species of snakes that grow up to 150 centimeters. They are common in Africa, and they are usually dark brown.
These snakes are harmless, and many pet owners highly recommend them. They hunt at night, and their main diet is rodents. In captivity, pet owners feed them with pinkie mice. In the wild, they also eat geckos and lizards.
Some large African house snakes hunt bats. When small, they hunt small lizards and rodents.
Related Article: 18 Snakes That Burrow
2. Ball Python
Native to the west and central Africa, people sometimes refer to it as the royal python. It can grow up to five feet, and it lives in grasslands. When under stress, it curls into a ball.
With proper care, the ball python can live up to 30 years. A non-venomous snake, it hunts through constriction. It is active at night, and it eats small mammals in the wild. If the ball python is still young, it will hunt birds.
Read More: 10 Agile Snakes That Hunt Birds
3. Boa Constrictor
Sometimes, people call this snake the red-tailed boa because of the reddish saddle on the tail. They are non-venomous and can grow up to 13 feet.
The boa constrictor typically lives alone and does not interact with its own until it is mating time. Despite being nocturnal, they may bask under the sun if the night is too cold.
As semi-arboreal snakes, they eat mammals and birds. Their main diet is rodents and lizards. Sometimes, they also eat bats and amphibians.
Read More: What Do Boa Constrictors Eat?
4. Brazilian Rainbow Boa
One of the most beautiful boas in the world, this snake is reddish or brown. It has black stripes and black rings on the back. It has five subspecies, and it is common in Central America. Their main diet consists of rodents and birds.
Its natural habitat is the woodlands. Some live in rainforests and savannas. In captivity, they need humidity and heat to survive. It is not easy to keep these snakes as pets.
Related Article: 16 Nasty Snakes That Spit Venom
5. Green Anaconda
The green anaconda is one of the most famous of its kind. It is what people usually see in documentaries and movies. It is a huge, non-venomous constrictor that can grow up to 30 feet and weigh up to 550 pounds.
Since it is huge, it has the power to eat pigs, deer, and caimans. Some of them even attack and eat jaguars. Their favorite food is large rodents like the capybara. Despite being the heaviest snake in the world, it can go on for months without food.
Related Article: 11 Snakes That Eat Insects
6. Kenyan Sand Boas
Despite its name, it is not native to Kenya only. This snake is also common in Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan and other countries in Africa. Some people call it the East African Sand Boa.
They make excellent pets. In the wild, they spend most of their time in shallow burrows. They expose their heads to ambush prey. Like other boas, they are not venomous, and they are constrictors.
Read Also: Are Sand Boas Constrictors?
7. Milk Snake
The milk snake is certainly the favorite of all pet owners. It is a kind of kingsnake, and it comes in a variety of colors. Most of them are red and white. The milk snake lives in forested regions.
Young ones eat crickets and other insects, slugs, and earthworms. Adults can grow more than two feet. By this time, the milk snake hunts frogs, small mammals, and even fish. The milk snake also eats other snakes.
Read More: Best Snakes for Beginner Snake Owners
8. Philippine Cobra
This snake is a dangerous one and is endemic to the Philippines. It is also one of those cobras that spit venom. It can grow up to five feet.
Its main diet consists of rats and frogs. It also eats other snakes. In the wild, they eat a lot of mice as it is abundant. Apart from rats and mice, they also hunt lizards and small birds. They will also eat eggs if they see some.
Read More: 13 Crazy Snakes that Eat Other Snakes
9. Rosy Boa
The rosy boa is native to the American Southwest; it is also found in the United States. It spends most of its life in crevices. They love living in rocky areas.
In captivity, they are docile, and it is why many pet experts recommend them for beginners. However, they are not as popular as the milk snake.
The rosy boa feeds primarily on lizards and amphibians. The rosy boa also eats other snakes. In the wild, they hunt rabbits and kangaroo rats.
Read Also: Do Snakes Eat Owls?
10. Western Taipan
Some people refer to this snake as the inland taipan. They are extremely venomous, and they are accurate strikers. They are mostly found in Australia.
In the wild, this snake only eats mammals. They eat mostly rodents. In captivity, they may accept one-day-old chicks. One thing that makes this snake scary is that it strikes multiple times. When it hunts, it also has a tendency to hold on to its prey until it dies.
11. Woma Python
When people talk about Ramsay’s python, they are also referring to Woma Python. Another name it goes by is sand python. It is endemic to Australia. It is an endangered species.
The Woma python eats vertebrates, mostly small mammals and lizards. It also attacks and eats ground birds. If there is no room to constrict its prey in the burrow, the woma python crushes its prey against the side of the burrow.
How do Nocturnal Snakes Hunt at Night?
There are snakes that “see” well at night because they have a heat-sensing vision. Scientists know that some snakes like the vipers have a pit organ between the eye and the nose for many years.
This organ is what allows them to sense infrared radiation. They do not really see in normal terms, but the organ allows them to determine where the prey is.
Snakes also have a keen sense of smell. Their tongues can smell the air and their surroundings. It is why they flick their tongues a lot.
The tongue grabs chemicals from the air and sends information to the Jacobson’s organ. It is the Jacobson’s organ that helps them assess things like where the prey is or where to find a mate.
Not all snakes are nocturnal, but many of them are. They evolved this way to avoid diurnal predators or because there is more abundance of prey at night.
Many nocturnal snakes have a heat-sensing vision. They can see infrared radiation, and this helps them track prey. Some use their special sense of smell to determine where the prey is.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.