All live underground, some utilizing existing animal tunnels and others pushing through loose sand or leaf litter. Most species are gentle in the hand, but burrowing asps are irascible (easily provoked) and strike quickly and often. Only one fang is used and the mouth remains closed. The straight, thin fang protrudes from the side of the mouth and is hooked sideways and backwards into the prey or victim. This unusual behavior has led to another common name, the side-stabbing snake. They may also be called stiletto snakes. Unlike other venomous snakes, they cannot be safely held behind the head.

Yellow and black burrowing snakes (Chilorhinophis) have blunt, tiny tails that mimic the head color. When disturbed by a predator, it hides its head beneath body coils and slowly waves the raised tail to deflect attack away from the delicate head.

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