A desert snake is a type of snake that lives in desert climates and is able to thrive in an environment with limited moisture. In the United States (US), many desert snakes are found in the Mojave Desert of the Southwest in areas such as Arizona. Among these the most well known is probably the Western diamondback rattlesnake. There are a number of other species of desert snake found in the US, however, with varying levels of toxicity and different ways of hunting. Outside of the US, desert snakes can be found in areas such as the Sahara in Africa and throughout the Arabian Desert as well.
In the Mojave Desert of the US, desert snakes can be quite common, and a number of different varieties and species can be found. Rattlesnakes, typically the most commonly thought of desert snake in the US, are pit vipers, which means they have two small pits beneath their nostrils that allow them to detect heat. This allows these types of snakes to hunt for warm-blooded prey such as small rodents, even in total darkness. Rattlesnakes are usually identified by their triangular heads and the jointed rattles found at the base of their bodies.
Along with rattlesnakes, coral snakes and kingsnakes are also common types of desert snake found in the US in areas such as New Mexico and Arizona. Both coral snakes and mountain kingsnakes appear fairly similar in color, with bands of red, black, and yellow or white. Their differences are important, however, as coral snakes are highly poisonous and can be recognized by the fact that the red bands directly touch the yellow or white bands on their bodies. Kingsnakes, however, have the black on their bodies separating the red and white or yellow, and are not poisonous. In fact, kingsnakes are typically immune to snake venom and tend to feed on other snakes such as rattlesnakes, as well as birds and rodents.
In desert regions outside the US, such as the Arabian and Saharan Deserts, desert vipers are a common type of desert snake and are typically feared by those who inhabit or routinely cross such places. These include the Sahara sand viper that has a sandy brown coloration which makes it very difficult to spot until an unwary person or small animal is too close. The Arabian horned viper is also common in the Arabian Desert and is usually nocturnal, avoiding the scorching heat of the day in preference for hunting its prey in the dark of night.