Sitting at the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula and facing the eastern edge of Africa, Yemen is home to a diverse ecosystem. That ecosystem is home to a wide variety of life, meaning you’ll find some very dangerous animals in Yemen.
Yemen’s landscape is made up of a vast assortment of natural landscapes of deserts, savannahs, scrublands, and woodlands. One of the most western points in Asia, Yemen’s east coast faces the Red Sea, while the south of the country looks out onto the Gulf of Aden. Yemen’s variety of environments plays host to a wide range of animals, some of which can be deadly.
From big cats to lethal snakes via scorpions and sharks, here’s everything you need to know about the most dangerous animals in Yemen.
If ever an animal’s name conjured up a particularly nasty image it has to be the fattail scorpion. Their Latin name, Androctonus, is even more direct, meaning “man killer”. That should give you some idea of just how deadly these scorpions are. Fattail scorpions are common throughout hot desert countries in North Africa, the Middle-East and Western Asia, including Yemen. Growing to around 10 centimeters long the fattail scorpion is considered to be one of the most dangerous scorpions on the planet.
Largely nocturnal, fattail scorpions prey on anything that they can capture and kill, typically feeding off other animals such as insects, rodents and lizards. Living in arid deserts, the fattail scorpion’s thick tail is packed with venom that is powerful enough to kill a human. The venom is a lethal neurotoxin which attacks its victim’s central nervous system. If stung by a fatttail scorpion the victim can expect to suffer from paralysis as well as respiratory failure. There are thought to be several human fatalities at the hands of fattail scorpions every year.
The Arabian leopard is another of the most dangerous animals in Yemen, though with so few left in the wild it is officially considered critically endangered. It’s believed that less than 200 Arabian leopards remain in their natural environment, due to habitat loss and decades of war and human conflict in the region. The Arabian leopard is the smallest breed of leopard, yet it is the largest of all of the wild cats that live on the Arabian Peninsula.
Rarely ever seen in daylight, the Arabian leopard is mostly nocturnal. Like most big cats, the Arabian leopard preys on smaller wild animals, such as the gazelles, ibex, rabbits and hare that also live in the deserts of Yemen. Though critically endangered, there are a number of initiatives aimed at boosting the numbers of the Arabian leopard in Yemen and in the wider region, both in the wild and in captivity. The region of Hawf, in the east of Yemen, is a protected conservation area where efforts have been made to preserve the area’s wildlife, which includes a number of Arabian leopards.
Though largely a scavenger, the striped hyena also deserves a place on the list of the most dangerous animals in Yemen. The striped hyena is a pack animal that is commonly found in countries across North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, including Yemen. Though they mostly live off whatever they can find, striped hyenas have been known to attack and kill prey, though such behavior is considered to be rare. Rarer still are hyena attacks on humans, although this too is not completely unheard of. Though they are usually timid when confronted by humans, in 2014 it was reported that a man in Rayma in northern Yemen was attacked and killed by a hyena late at night.
The striped hyena’s most recognizable feature are their tall front legs which are much longer than their rear legs. This gives them an ungainly walk but they’re no slouches and are able to run at speed. Striped hyenas are another nocturnal animal, helped by their powerful senses, including excellent hearing, a powerful sense of smell and super sharp vision. An unusual trait of the striped hyena is their ability to play dead when threatened, though feigning death is a surprisingly common defense mechanism amongst animals in the wild.
The Arabian cobra snake is one of the most deadly snakes in the world and therefore easily one of the most dangerous animals in Yemen. The Arabian cobra is found only on the Arabian Peninsula and possesses lethal venom that can easily kill a human. Growing to around a meter in length, in the wild the Arabian cobra lives largely on a diet of birds, lizards and frogs but if confronted by a predator things can turn very nasty.
Though they rarely bite, if an Arabian cobra feels threatened it will rise up its body and spread its ribs to form a wide hood before spitting venom at its victim’s eyes. The snake’s venom is a neurotoxin, which quickly attacks the nervous system and usually leads to death by asphyxiation. So vicious is their venom that the majority of deaths caused by snakes in neighboring Saudi Arabia are caused by the Arabian Cobra, and attacks are common in Yemen and Oman too.
The horned viper is another snake commonly found in Yemen that it’s best not to mess around with. The snake’s name derives from the two prongs that stick out menacingly from the top of the viper’s head that resemble horns. Usually a pale grey or brown in colour, the horned viper is a sand snake, commonly found living in desert areas in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and, of course, Yemen. Mostly active at night, the horned viper usually submerges most of its body beneath the sand and pounces on its unsuspecting prey, holding on to the victim until their venom finally kills them.
That venom is what makes the horned viper one of the most dangerous animals in Yemen. Though generally considered to be fairly placid, being bitten by a horned viper leads to a litany of pretty horrific ailments. These include localized pain and swelling, hemorrhaging of blood, vomiting, the death of cells inside muscle tissue, and the weakening of the heart to the point where it can no longer pump enough blood and oxygen around the body. A dose of just 40 to 50 milligrams of a horned viper’s venom is enough to be fatal for humans.
As if the Arabian cobra and the horned viper weren’t enough to contend with, Yemen is also home to another lethal breed of snake, the puff adder. Another viper, the puff adder lives throughout Central and Southern Africa as well as across the Arabian Peninsula. The puff adder is the most deadly snake in Africa, responsible for more fatalities than any other snake on the continent. This is due to the high population of puff adders found in Africa and the severity of their venom, which is one of the most toxic of all venom producing vipers. 100 milligrams of a puff adder’s venom can kill a human.
Protected by its camouflaged appearance, the puff adder is another snake that prefers to move around at night, ambushing its prey opportunistically, rather than actively hunting for food. When threatened the puff adder will hiss loudly and attack at speed. The puff adder produces large quantities of lethal venom, which it administers by biting its victim and injecting through its long fangs. The puff adder’s venom attacks the victim’s cells, and a bite can cause severe pain, necrosis, bruising, blood blisters, and low blood pressure. If not treated quickly enough, gangrene can set in, which often leads to amputation, and ultimately can prove fatal.
The waters off the coast of Yemen also play host to some pretty dangerous animals too. Chief amongst them are sharks. Though shark attacks in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden are rare, they have been known to take place and have proved to be fatal. One of the rarest sharks known to live in the waters around Yemen is the Smoothtooth blacktip shark. Until 2009 it was believed that the Smoothtooth blacktip shark had been extinct for over a hundred years until it was rediscovered.
Unfortunately, despite its rediscovery, the Smoothtooth blacktip shark faces an uncertain future. The waters off the coast of Yemen have suffered greatly from overfishing, and the Smoothtooth blacktip shark is easily caught up in the nets by fishing trawlers. Relatively small compared to more notorious sharks, the Smoothtooth blacktip grows to around four meters in length and is easily caught up in fishing nets. Sharks in the Gulf of Aden are also caught by fisheries from Yemen and Somalia for their own meat, as well as for their skins and fins, meaning that the status and the number of sharks living in the waters around Yemen is not fully known and their future far from secure.
What is the most dangerous animal in Yemen?
The most dangerous animal in Yemen is either the fattail scorpion or the Arabian cobra. Both are highly venomous and possess a lethal poison capable of killing a human. They’re also both commonly found throughout the country.
Are there lions in Yemen?
No, there are no lions in Yemen. The largest wildcat in Yemen is the Arabian leopard, though the chances of spotting one of these are rare. Largely nocturnal, there are believed to be less than 200 Arabian leopards left in the wild.
Are there venomous snakes in Yemen?
Yes, there are venomous snakes in Yemen, and they are all capable of killing a human. The most deadly is the Arabian cobra, but an attack from the horned viper and the puff adder are also potentially fatal to humans.
Are there tigers in Yemen?
No, there are no tigers in Yemen.
Are there dangerous spiders in Yemen?
There are many spiders in Yemen, particularly on the island of Socotra, though none are believed to be venomous enough to pose any threat to humans.