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The Most Dangerous Animals in Saudi Arabia: Top 9 to Avoid

Dangerous animals in Saudi Arabia

Visiting Saudi Arabia is an experience like no other. Deserts stretch across much of the country, oil refines create ultimate riches, and seeing camels is a common occurrence. You’re also likely to come across one of the most dangerous animals in Saudi Arabia at some point. 

Deadly snakes find their way into towns and poisonous ants appear from seemingly nowhere. Venture outside of the cities, and you may spot scorpions scurrying across sandy deserts, a striped hyena looking for its next meal, or the infamous camel spider hiding in your shadow. 

Below we take a look at the nine most dangerous animals in Saudia Arabia. If you’re squeamish, you may not want to read on. These are the animals that will make your skin crawl and send shivers down your spine.

Indian saw-scaled viper

most dangerous animal in saudi arabia, indian saw-scaled viper
Photo by Nilesh Shah/Getty Images
  • Latin name: Echis carinatus
  • Fatal Weapons: Deadly venom
  • Treatment: Immediate antivenom
  • Where to find them: All around Saudi Arabia

A member of the big four snakes, known for their deadly venom and habits of living in highly populated areas, the Indian saw-scaled viper easily tops the list of dangerous animals in Saudi Arabia. Their small size allows them to hide easily under rocks or bury themselves in sand. Yet with a powerful spring-like attack, they can easily take down large rodents, frogs, and lizards. Indian saw-scaled vipers won’t typically go after large animals, but if they feel threatened or your foot gets too near their head, they are known to strike.

Once bitten, victims will experience swelling and pain at the bite site. If a wound is not treated with antivenom, symptoms will worsen with the potential for hemorrhage, kidney dialysis, and the vomiting of blood, among others. These snakes don’t go gentle on their attack either. To put it into perspective, in just one bite, the Indian saw-scaled viper can inject up to 12 mg of venom, whereas the lethal dose for an average adult is not even half of that at 5mg. These deadly snakes aren’t just found in Saudi Arabia either, keep an eye out if you’re in Pakistan and Kuwait.

Arabian Gulf sea snake

Arabian gulf sea snake
Photo by Roger Utting/Getty Images
  • Latin name: Hydrophis lapemoides
  • Fatal Weapons: Posinous venom
  • Treatment: Get to the hospital immediately for antivenom
  • Where to find them: Warm, shallow coastal waters

Venomous snakes are already terrifying enough, but a venomous snake that lives underwater and occasionally hangs out on land? That is something nightmares are made of. Luckily, the Arabian Gulf sea snake isn’t known to be highly aggressive or bite often. However, its venom can cause nausea and vomiting and is also known to damage the nervous system if left untreated. On rare occasions, people have died from such complications.

Arabain Gulf sea snakes prefer to hang out in shallow coastal water, especially over reefs and seagrass. Here, they’ll prey on fish and use their venom to kill its victim and help in its digestion. Interestingly, as this snake uses its venom to feed rather than in defense, it cannot open its mouth wide enough to bite most body parts. If it does manage to find your fingers or toes, be sure to get yourself to the hospital immediately.

Deathstalker Scorpion

deathwalker scorpion in Saudi Arabia
Photo by Inna Gillarova/Getty Images
  • Latin name: Leiurus quiquetriatus
  • Fatal Weapons: Deadly venom
  • Treatment: Large doses of antivenom
  • Where to find them: Rub’ Al Khali desert and other regions with extremely high temperatures

With a sting that causes nausea, headaches, abdominal cramps, and the potential for convulsions and fluid in the lungs, the Deathstalker scorpion is one creature you want to steer well clear of. Spotting one of these dangerous animals in Saudi Arabia can be tricky. Deathstalker scorpions spend their time under rocks, hiding between large branches and in abandoned burrows. One moment you’ll be happily wandering through the village, and if you get too close to a hiding scorpion, your ankle may become victim to their sting. 

Luckily, humans aren’t their prey of choice. Instead, Deathstalker scorpions mainly feast on larger insects like beetles, crickets, and termites. They prefer harsh climates with soaring temperatures and low precipitation, and you can tell the difference between other scorpions by their yellow color and black tail. If you are stung, large doses of antivenom can prevent serious effects of a Deathstalker sting. If you experience any type of bite, be sure to seek medical attention immediately.

Samsum Ant

Samsum ant
Photo by MOONFLASH-LONDON/Getty Images
  • Latin name: Brachyponera sennaarensis
  • Fatal Weapons: Deadly venom
  • Treatment: Seek medical advice
  • Where to find them: All around Saudi Arabia

The smallest creature on this list but certainly one of the most dangerous animals in Saudi Arabia is the pain-inducing Samsum ant. Its sting is so venomous; it’s been known to cause anaphylactic shock and even rare accounts of death. Plus, with its large eyes, long legs, and hairy limbs, this ant even looks evil.

Samsum ants prefer to live in open forests and savannas and dine on a mix of seeds and insects. However, as humans have developed more and more land, Samsum ants are starting to be found in towns and cities. They are figuring out that garbage cans and kitchen floors are excellent food sources, and unsuspecting humans are becoming targets for their sting.

It’s not all bad news, though. Samsum ant venom is known to help reduce inflammation, pain and ongoing studies are even using it to treat certain types of cancer. Even so, it’s always best to steer well clear of the Samsun ant.

Common viper

Photo by wildmedia
  • Latin name: Vipera berus
  • Fatal Weapons: Antivenom
  • Treatment: Poisonous venom
  • Where to find them: All around Saudi Arabia, basking in sunny spots or grasslands

Also referred to as the common adder, the common viper is yet another snake you want to steer well clear of in Saudi Arabia. They may not be as deadly as the saw-scaled viper, but their venom can cause immediate and intense pain along with swelling, bruising, and blood blisters. If you’re bitten, be sure to seek medical attention immediately for antivenom. Even if the pain goes away, necrosis (death of body tissue) and other non-reversible conditions can occur. 

You will need to be quite unlucky to be attacked by a common viper, as they prefer to avoid confrontation. They spend their days basking in the sun, and any sign of a threat, they’ll scurry into the bushes. Most attacks happen because common vipers are accidentally stepped on, or if the if the snake feels like it has nowhere to hide. In this case, you’ll hear a loud and sustained hissing, and it’s best to back away slowly or freeze.

Arabian fat-tailed scorpion

Arabian fat-tailed scorpion, dangerous animal in saudi arabia
Photo by LWOPhotography/Getty Images
  • Latin name:  Androctonus crassicanda
  • Fatal Weapons: Deadly venom
  • Treatment: Antivenom
  • Where to find them: Hiding under rocks and in crevasses, especially in arid regions 

What Saudia Arabia lacks in snakes, it more than makes up for in its deadly scorpion collection. A prime example of this is the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion, also known as the black scorpion due to its inky black color. This dangerous animal can grow to nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters) long and, like many scorpions, has three eyes instead of two.

Similar to the Deathstalker scorpion, the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion prefers to spend the daytime hiding in crevices and under rocks and branches until night falls. Then, as soon as night begins, they escape from their hiding spot and hunt for spiders and small insects. If the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion mistakes your wandering foot for a threat, they may bite even in the middle of the day.

Once bitten, it’s essential to get to a hospital immediately as intense pain, redness, and swelling will come on fast. Heart malfunctions, respiratory problems, internal bleeding, and other deadly side effects can occur if left untreated.

Camel Spider

camel spider in saudi arabia
Photo by Michael Wallis/Getty Images
  • Latin name: Galeodes arabs
  • Fatal Weapons: Large jaw and quick pace
  • Treatment: Seek medical treatment if pain persists
  • Where to find them: In arid and dry desserts

If you’ve heard of the camel spider, you’ve likely heard rumors that they chase people, have a terrible scream, grow to the size of a basketball, and even the horrifying rumor that they feast on camel’s stomachs. While these might be far-fetched claims, camel spiders do hold many disturbing features, giving them a good reason to be named one of the most dangerous animals in Saudi Arabia.

Firstly, the camel spider’s jaw is a whopping ⅓ the size of its body. It has a ferocious looking and hairy body, and it can grow in size to 6 inches (15 cm) in length. Even so, camel spiders have a relatively low threat to humans and instead focus their attention on bugs, lizards, small birds, and even rodents. If you are bitten, you’ll likely experience pain and swelling that should go away within hours. However, if pain persists, be sure to seek medical attention.

Arabian Leopard

Arabian Leopard
Photo by Shaow_Hawk/Getty Images
  • Latin name: Panthera pardus nimr
  • Fatal Weapons: Strong ability to ambush prey
  • Treatment: Seek medical attention
  • Where to find them: Deep in the Hijaz and Asir Mountains

Little is known about the majestic Arabian leopard, but tales of its attacks on humans and livestock ensure its place on the list of most dangerous animals in Saudi Arabia. Their typical prey ranges from speedy gazelles and hares to hedgehogs and small rodents, depending on what they have access to. On the very rare occasion, when food is scarce or humans emproach on their land, they have been known to prey on sheep and goats being kept as livestock.

Unfortunately, only 200 Arabian leopards are estimated to be living in the wild, with around a quarter of those thought to be located in Saudi Arabia and others located in Yemen, Oman, and Egypt. As they prefer to live in mountainous and well-vegetated regions that prove difficult for humans to reach, studying the behavior of Arabian Leopards has proved difficult. Even so, this is not an animal you’ll want to come face to face with.

Striped hyena

striped hyena
Photo by Meet Poddar/Getty Images
  • Latin name: Hyaena hyaena
  • Fatal Weapons: Quick speed and strong, powerful jaw
  • Treatment: Seek immediate medical attention
  • Where to find them: Northern Saudi Arabia

Although there are only an estimated 10,000 striped hyenas left in the world, this is one animal you won’t feel lucky you stumbled across. While rare, attacks on humans have been documented across the Middle East, both in the wild and from hyenas that have made their way into towns and villages.

Striped hyenas prefer to scavenge, and as they are not picky eaters, they will feed on a range of different carcasses. When the opportunity presents itself, or the hyena hasn’t had any luck finding carcasses, they have been known to hunt and kill prey. They use their speed to overcome slower animals such as wild boars and porcupines and then use their strong jaws and teeth to kill them.

Besides their low numbers, it is also unlikely you’ll spot a striped hyena as they’re highly nocturnal animals and only merge in complete darkness. However, if you do happen to come across one, act calm and slowly walk away.

dangerous animals in saudi arabia FAQ
Photo by Hassan Al hammoud/Getty Images

What is the most dangerous animal in Saudi Arabia?

The most dangerous animal in Saudi Arabia is the Indian saw-scaled viper. Its habit of living in highly populated areas and its poisonous venom make the Indian saw-scaled viper a very deadly animal. Luckily, antivenom is readily available in hospitals around Saudi Arabia.

Are there venomous snakes in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, there are a few venomous snakes in Saudi Arabia. These include the common viper, Arabian Gulf sea snake, and the Indian saw-scaled viper. Serious snake bites are relatively rare in Saudi Arabia. Still, you should always be careful in grassy regions or when there are a lot of leaves and branches covering the ground.

Are there dangerous spiders in Saudi Arabia?

While Saudi Arabia is home to the camel spider, these rarely cause serious injuries. Besides the camel spider, there are very few other dangerous spiders, so luckily, this is one animal you don’t need to worry too much about while in Saudi Arabia.

Are there deadly scorpions in Saudia Arabia?

Yes, both the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion and the Deathstalker scorpion live in Saudi Arabia and, on very rare occasions, have been known to inflict fatal bites. Their venom is the primary culprit, and without antivenom, complications can occur which can lead to death.