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20 Vibrant Snakes with Big Heads

There are over 3500 snakes in the world. Most of these snakes are nonvenomous. Only a few snakes are venomous enough to kill humans (about 200 snakes).

Snakes with big heads are generally big snakes. The bigger the snake, the more likely that the snake has a big head. Some snakes with big heads that you can keep as pets include the boa constrictor, the green anaconda, the Burmese python, and the Indian python.

Some snakes such as the Gaboon viper have heads that are noticeably big because of their narrow necks. Most vipers have narrow necks which make their heads appear bigger than they really are.

Boidae

1. Boa Constrictor

Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor) wrapped around the trunk of a small tree in Porto Velho, Brazil, South America
Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor) wrapped around the trunk of a small tree in Porto Velho, Brazil, South America. – Source
  • Family: Boidae
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Boa constrictor
  • Adult Length: 3.3 to 13.1 ft (1 to 4 m)
  • Adult Mass: 60 pounds
  • Lifespan: 25 to 35 years
  • Geographic Range: South America
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where to Purchase Online: morphmarket.com

The boa constrictor is a big snake with a big head. This allows it to eat huge prey. Although it is a big snake it isn’t as big as some other boids on this list. In fact, the anaconda makes the boa constrictor seem like a dwarf.

The boa constrictor reaches a length of 3 to 13 ft. The largest boa on record was a little other 13 ft. Most boas are between  6 to 10 ft in size.

Similar to other boids, females are generally larger than males although the males have longer tails.

The coloration and patterns of a boa constrictor’s body vary wildly from one morph to another.  Colorations range from green, red, tan, or yellow. Patterns include jagged lines, circles, ovals, and even diamonds.

Many individual boas are capable of eating large mammals such as ocelots, monkeys, and wild pigs. When they have to eat their heads increase in size.

2. Green Anaconda

Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) in dry grass somewhere in Brazil, South America
Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) in dry grass somewhere in Brazil, South America. – Source
  • Family: Boidae
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Eunectes murinus
  • Average Adult Length: 19.7 ft (6 m)
  • Adult Length: 9.8 to 39.4 ft (3 to 12 m)
  • Adult Mass: 250 kg (550.6 lb)
  • Lifespan: 10 years in the wild, 30 years in captivity
  • Geographic Range: Northern South America 
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where to Purchase Online: morphmarket.com

This is one of the largest if not the largest snake in the world. As such it has a big head. This massive snake can open its move and jaws wide enough to envelop animals as huge as South American tapirs.

The massive green anaconda can reach a length of 39.4 ft and a weight of 550 pounds. The exact measurements of the maximum size of this snake vary from one source to another.

They are commonly kept as pets by snake enthusiasts. Caring for an anaconda can be expensive as they have specific needs. On average, a pet anaconda reaches an adult length of about 19.7 ft or 6 meters.

The green anaconda is greenish in color. The ventrum is yellowish. There are brown blotches with black borders on the dorsum.

The green anaconda is semi-aquatic and spends a lot of time in slow-moving rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes. They also live in rainforests, grasslands, and savannas.

Colubridae

3. Dog-Toothed Cat Snake

Dog-toothed Cat Snake (Boiga cynodon) slivering down a leaf in Singapore, Asia
Dog-toothed Cat Snake (Boiga cynodon) slivering down a leaf in Singapore, Asia. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Boiga cynodon
  • Adult Length:  6 ft 6 inches (2 m)
  • Geographic Range:  Southeastern Asia
  • Conservation Status:  Least Concern

The dog-toothed cat snake is a colubrid. While colubrids don’t usually have big heads, the dog-toothed cat snake is one of the exceptions.

This is a huge snake with a distinct head. The narrow neck helps to further accentuate the size of the head.

The dog-toothed cat snake is a massive snake that can reach a length of over 6 ft. The front teeth of both the lower and upper jaws of this snake are enlarged. Additionally, the head is much bigger than the neck.

The dorsum of the dog-toothed cat snake is tan with dark crossbands. The underside is white with brown marbled patterns.

The dog-toothed cat snake is endemic to southeastern Asia and occurs in Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei Darussalam.

This snake is arboreal.

4. Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) rustling through sticks and dirt in Cedar Hill, Texas, USA
Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) rustling through sticks and dirt in Cedar Hill, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Heterodon platirhinos
  • Adult Length: 1.5 to 3.4 ft (45 to 105 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5.5 years
  • Geographic Range: Eastern North America
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The eastern hog-nose snake is large for a colubrid. It is capable of reaching a length of 3.4 ft.

As you can tell, when compared to some of the other snakes on this list, it isn’t that large. However, it does have a large head and qualifies as a snake with a big head.

The eastern hog-nose snake is known as ‘a hognose’ because of their upturned snouts which resemble that of a hog. They are known to play dead when threatened. They have wide heads which look unique. The wide nature of their head makes the head look large.

Their coloration is distinct. Colors range from gray, black, orange, and brown. There are dark brown and brown blotches on the body and head.

Females are typically larger than males.

Family Dipsadidae 

5. Blunt-headed Tree Snake

Blunt-headed Tree Snake (Imantodes cenchoa) slithering through leaves of a tree in Costa Rica, North America
Blunt-headed Tree Snake (Imantodes cenchoa) slithering through leaves of a tree in Costa Rica, North America. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Imantodes cenchoa
  • Adult Length:  9.1 to 35.5 inches (23.2 to 90.1 cm)
  • Average Adult Length: 31.5 inches (80 cm)
  • Geographic Range: South America
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

While the head of this snake isn’t particularly big, the neck and body of the snake are very thin.

In relation to the thin body, the head looks pretty big. The eyes of this snake are also massive. The diameter of the eyes is about 25 percent the length of the head.

Blunthead tree snake is arboreal. It is long and slim. This gives it a unique appearance. The dorsum is generally pale brown while the ventrum is white.

Elapidae

6. Black Mamba

Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) wrapped around a large branch in Durban, South Africa
Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) wrapped around a large branch in Durban, South Africa. – Source
  • Family: Elapidae
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Dendroaspis polylepis
  • Adult Length: 6.6 to 9.8 ft (2 to 3 m)
  • Lifespan: 11 years
  • Geographic Range: Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The black mamba’s head is visibly larger than the neck.

This is one of the deadliest snakes in the world. In fact, many consider it the deadliest snake in the world with an envenomation rate of 100 percent and a mortality rate of 100% for bite victims in untreated cases.

The black mamba is slender. For an elapid, it is quite large. It reaches a length of 9.8 ft or 3 m.

The coloration is gray, brown, or olive. It gets its common name from the color of the inside of its mouth which is inky black to bluish-black in color.

7. King Cobra

King Cobra (Python bivittatus) slithering through dirt in Hong Kong, Asia
King Cobra (Python bivittatus) slithering through dirt in Hong Kong, Asia. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Python bivittatus (P. molurus bivittatus)
  • Adult Length: 10 to 12 ft
  • Lifespan: 17 years
  • Geographic Range: Southeastern Asia (lower half of Asia)
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable

The king cobra is a large snake, especially for an elapid. It also has a big head. The hood makes the king cobra’s head seem even bigger than it actually is.

The king cobra can reach a body length of 18 ft, although it usually reaches a body length of 10 to 12 ft. This species is black, brown, green, or yellow in color. Their underside is usually yellow. There are white crossbars on its dorsum.

The king cobra is known for its ferocity and aggression. Its hood and threat display leave a strong impression on many who come across the king cobra.

The king cobra is endemic to southeastern Asia.

8. Bighead Sea Snake

Bighead Sea Snake (Kolpophis annandalei) on a light green background taken by Indraneil Das
Bighead Sea Snake (Kolpophis annandalei) on a light green background taken by Indraneil Das.
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Kolpophis annandalei (Hydrophis annandalei)
  • Adult Snout-to-Vent Length: 20 in (0.5 meters)
  • Geographic Range: Indian Ocean (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam)
  • Conservation Status: Data Deficient

Little is known about this species. It is a marine snake and it has a big head.

Other characteristics include small irregular scales on its body and a stout body. The body is yellow with gray crossbands. These bands are narrow on the side.

As the snake grows, its coloration fades and turns pale gray. The crossbands also become less conspicuous.

Pythonidae

9. Burmese Python

Burmese Python (Python bivittatus) in dry leaves somewhere in Rayong, Thailand, Asia
Burmese Python (Python bivittatus) in dry leaves somewhere in Rayong, Thailand, Asia. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Python bivittatus (P. molurus bivittatus)
  • Adult Length: 16 ft (5 meters)
  • Adult Mass: 137 kg (high)
  • Lifespan: 27 years
  • Geographic Range: Southeastern Asia (lower half of Asia)
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable 
  • Where to Purchase Online: morphmarket.com 

The Burmese python is one of the biggest snakes in the world. While its body is larger than its head, its head is still pretty large. This python is also commonly kept as a pet.

In fact, it is an invasive species in Florida because of the pet trade. The main reason why it thrives in Florida is that the environmental conditions there such as humidity and temperature are conducive.

The Burmese python is a non-venomous snake and kills its prey by constriction. It then swallows its prey whole. Similar to other pythons, the Burmese python is capable of shallowing alligators, and even adult deer.

The species reaches an adult length of about 7.8 ft to 18 ft. The largest Burmese python on record is “Baby” which reached a length of 18 ft 10 inches and a weight of 403 pounds.

10. Central African Rock Python

African Rock Python (Python sebae) slithering through very green grass in Uganda, Africa
African Rock Python (Python sebae) slithering through very green grass in Uganda, Africa. – Source
  • Family: Pythonidae
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Python sebae
  • Adult Length: 13.1 to 24.6 ft (4 to 7.5 m)
  • Adult Mass: 96.9 to 200.4 lb (44 to 91 kg)
  • Lifespan: 18 to 30 years 
  • Geographic Range: Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened
  • Where to Purchase Online: morphmarket.com 

This is another massive snake with a pretty big head. The head is proportional to the body (relatively small compared to its massive body) and as such doesn’t look as big in photos. 

The body length of the Central African rock python is between 13 to 24.6 ft and is caple of reaching a weight of 200 pounds. The average weight is about 121 pounds. As you can tell, this is a massive snake. 

The background color of this snake is brown to gray-green. There are several patterns on the dorsum. The patterns are dark blotches. The ventrum is white with black spots.

The species is endemic to West and Central Africa. Its range is pretty extensive.

Central African rock pythons are sometimes also kept as pets.

11. Indian Python

Indian Python (Python molurus) curled up in dry sand and rocks in Lucknow, India, Asia
Indian Python (Python molurus) curled up in dry sand and rocks in Lucknow, India, Asia. – Source
  • Family: Pythonidae
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Python molurus
  • Adult Length: 8 ft 10 in. to 10 ft 10 in (2.7 to 3.3 m)
  • Maximum Adult Mass: 200 lb (91 kg)
  • Lifespan: 15.8 years
  • Geographic Range: Mostly India
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened

The Indian python is endemic to the Indian subcontinent. It occurs in India and the neighboring countries. Here, the python inhabits rainforests, grassy marshes, woodlands, semi-rocky foothills, and river valleys.

It is necessary that its habitat has adequate cover. It also prefers humid environments. Although endemic to the Indian subcontinent, the Indian python thrives in the American Everglades.

This massive python reaches a body length of 8 ft 10 in. to 10 ft 10 in (2.7 to 3.3 m) and can reach an adult weight of  200 lb (91 kg). Similar to the Burmese python, the head is relatively small compared to the body.

This is only because the snake is massive. Its head is relatively bigger than that of most snakes. This snake is commonly kept as a pet.

12. Reticulated Python

Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus) on wet rocky ground in Petchburi, Thailand, Asia
Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus) on wet rocky ground in Petchburi, Thailand, Asia. – Source
  • Family: Pythonidae 
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Malayopython reticulatus (Python reticulatus)
  • Average Adult Length: 10.2 ft (3.1 m)
  • Adult Length: 5.3 to 29.5 ft (1.6 to 9 m)
  • Average Adult Mass: 330.4 lb (150 kg)
  • Adult Mass: 220.3 to 594.7 lb (100 to 270 kg)
  • Lifespan: 15 to 22 years in the wild, 18 to 27 years in captivity
  • Geographic Range: Southeastern Asia,  Indo-Pacific islands west of New Guinea
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Where to Purchase Online: morphmarket.com 

The reticulated python is another massive snake. The head of this snake is relatively small compared to its body. But similar to the Indian python and the Burmese python, this is because the reticulated python is massive.

The reticulated python is named after the patterns on its upper body which are dark x’s that form a netlike pattern. This pattern isn’t always evidential as there are many morphs of the reticulated python. This is to say, that individuals come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

This massive python has an average adult body length of about 10 ft and a maximum adult body length of about 30 ft. The reticulated python may be the largest snake in the world alongside the green anaconda.

The reticulated python is also commonly kept as a pet.

Viperidae

13. Arabian Horned Viper

Arabian Horned Viper (Cerastes gasperettii) in sand and sticks somewhere in United Arab Emirates, Asia
Arabian Horned Viper (Cerastes gasperettii) in sand and sticks somewhere in United Arab Emirates, Asia. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Cerastes gasperettii
  • Adult Length:  12 to 24 inches or 30 to 60 cm
  • Geographic Range:  Arabian Peninsula 
  • Conservation Status:  Least Concern

This is another viper. Vipers generally have large heads. The Arabian-horned viper has long vertical horns on its head, right above the eyes. This adds to the size of the head.

The Arabian-horned viper reaches a length of 12 to 24 inches or 30 to 60 cm. Females are generally larger.

The species is mostly endemic to the Arabian Peninsula. It occurs in Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. It also occurs in Iran, Iraq, southern Jordan, and southeastern Israel.

14. Copperhead 

Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) looking up from rocky concrete in the dark in Wood County, Texas, USA
Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) looking up from rocky concrete in the dark in Wood County, Texas, USA. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Agkistrodon contortrix
  • Adult Length:  29.9 inches (76 cm)
  • Lifespan: 18 to 29 years  
  • Geographic Range:  Eastern North America
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

This snake has a big copper head and a narrow neck. By copper, I’m referring to the reddish-brown color. Its copper head gives the species its common name.

The rest of the body is also reddish brown. There are several crossbands on the body. The crossbands are darker than the rest of the body.

This viper lives in woodlands and deciduous forests in the Appalachians. In the Coastal Plain, the species inhabits wet woodlands such as swamps.

To the west, the species inhibit mixed woodlands located in riparian areas.

15. Cottonmouth

Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) rolled up on the surface in leaves in Virginia, USA
Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) rolled up on the surface in leaves in Virginia, USA. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Agkistrodon piscivorus
  • Adult Length:  26 to 35 inches (65 to 90 cm)
  • Geographic Range:  Southeastern United States
  • Conservation Status:  Least Common

This viper has a broad triangular head with a blunt snout.

The neck is quite narrow. This snake is commonly found near water and is semiaquatic.

The cottonmouth reaches an adult length of 26 to 35 inches and a body mass of about 295 to 580 g in males and 201 to 254 grams in females. Males are larger than females.

16. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) in a fighting stance in long grass somewhere in Georgia, USA
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) in a fighting stance in long grass somewhere in Georgia, USA. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Crotalus adamanteus
  • Adult Length: 3.3 to 7.9 ft  (1 to 2.4 m)
  • Adult Mass: 4.9 to 15.4 lb (2.2 to 7 kg)
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Geographic Range: southeast United States
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is one of the biggest snakes in North America. This rattlesnake is endemic to the Coastal Plain which includes Louisiana to North Carolina.

The species is endemic to grassy fields, pine woods, flat lands, and open fields. With the decline of the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannas, the rattlesnake’s preferred habitat,  the wild populations of this rattlesnake have declined as well.

The eastern diamondback is the biggest rattlesnake in the world. It reaches a length of 3.3 to 7.9 ft and a weight of 4.9 to 15.4 pounds.

The species have diamond-shaped scales on the dorsal side of the body. The diamondback rattlesnake gets its name from these diamond scales.

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake like other pit vipers has a distinct head.

17. Fer-De-Lance / Terciopelo

Fer-De-Lance or Terciopelo (Bothrops asper) curled up and wet in freshly-rained grass somewhere in Costa Rica, North America
Fer-De-Lance or Terciopelo (Bothrops asper) curled up and wet in freshly-rained grass somewhere in Costa Rica, North America. – Source
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Bothrops asper
  • Adult Length: 3.9 to 5.9 ft (1.2 to 1.8 m)
  • Adult Mass: 13.2 lb (6 kg)
  • Lifespan: 15 to 21 years
  • Geographic Range: Central America, Northwestern coast of South America
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The terciopelo is a moderately sized snake with a head that is proportionally big.

It is also considered venomous and regarded as one of the deadliest snakes in the world. The species can reach a length of 8.2 ft and a weight of 13 pounds.

This viper is endemic from northwestern South America to Central America. The range extends from Mexico to Venezuela.

This viper inhabits tropical rainforests, evergreen forests, and savannas.

18. Gaboon Viper

Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica) looking up from a grassy area in South Africa, Africa
Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica) looking up from a grassy area in South Africa, Africa. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Bitis gabonica
  • Adult Length: 4 to 5 ft (125 to 155 cm)
  • Adult Mass: 19 lb (8.5 kg)
  • Geographic Range: Central Africa
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Similar to most vipers, the Gaboon viper has a distinct head. This head is big when compared to the rest of the head. The Gaboon viper is also large.

In fact, it is the biggest viper out there. When compared to other massive snakes such as anacondas, the Gaboon viper is not that big but when compared to other vipers it is massive.

The head of the Gaboon viper is 5 inches (12.7 cm) wide.  This head is triangular and has conspicuous rostral horns.

The species is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa from West Africa through Central and East Africa to Southern Africa.

19. Rhinoceros Viper

Rhinoceros Viper (Bitis nasicornis) slithering through wet dirt and grass in Kabale, Uganda, Africa
Rhinoceros Viper (Bitis nasicornis) slithering through wet dirt and grass in Kabale, Uganda, Africa. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Bitis nasicornis
  • Adult Length:  60 to 90 cm
  • Lifespan: 8.3 years
  • Geographic Range:  West Africa and Western Central Africa
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Similar to other vipers, rhinoceros viper has a triangular head. The snout is interesting as it has about three pairs of horns on the tip. These horns give the species its common name.

The rhinoceros viper is a short snake. It is heavy. Females are generally much larger than males. This viper reaches an adult length of 60 to 90 cm.

The species is endemic to West Africa and Western Central Africa.  Rhinoceros viper is often found close to water.

20. Wagler’s Pit Viper

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) on a large branch among smaller branches at Dairy Farm Nature Park, Singapore, Asia
Wagler’s Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) on a large branch among smaller branches at Dairy Farm Nature Park, Singapore, Asia. – Source
  • Binomial Nomenclature: Tropidolaemus wagleri
  • Adult Length: 29.5 inches to 39.5 inches (75 to 100 cm)  
  • Geographic Range:  southeastern Asia
  • Conservation Status:  Least Concern

This viper is endemic to southeastern Asia. its head is triangular and large. Vipers have distinct head shapes. You can easily tell where the head ends and where the neck begins.

The species is greenish with the green phase of the species being the greenest. Males are significantly smaller than females. Males reach a length of 29.5 inches while females reach a length of 39.5 inches.

The species is endemic mainly to the Malaysian Peninsular. It also occurs in Singapore, Sumatera (Indonesia), Thailand, and Viet Nam.

Frequently Asked Questions

What snake has a big head?

There are several snakes with big heads. Some include the bighead sea snake, the Gaboon viper, and the green anaconda. 

What shape are most poisonous snakes’ heads?

Most venomous snakes have triangular heads. This is true of vipers, elapids, and venomous colubrids.

In fact, several non-venomous snakes mimic this shape to appear venous. 

Does the shape of a snake’s head mean anything?

The head shape of a snake can tell us a lot about whether or not the snake is venomous or not. Most venomous snakes have triangular heads.

These heads appear big with narrow necks. Nonvenoums snakes normally have round heads. 

Conclusion

There are almost 4000 snake species on earth. Most of these are non-venomous. There are about 600 venomous snakes.

Out of this, only 200 are venomous enough to kill a man. Regardless of this, snakes generally have a bad rep.

Many snakes have big heads. This is no surprise as they normally have to consume prey much wider than they are.

They can expand their heads (jaws) so as to swallow their prey whole. The bigger the snake, the bigger the head as big snakes consume huge prey.

Prey that is huge as a deer. Venomous snakes such as vipers have narrow necks which make their heads appear big.

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