Gaboon Viper

Bitis gabonica (Viperidae)

Distribution: Tropical Africa

Habitat: Rainforest

African Rock Python

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About this snake:

The Gaboon Viper lives on the rain forest floor in the equatorial belt of Tropical Africa. Its markings help camoflauge it amongst the leaves and spotted sunshine of the rain forest floor. They spend most of their time motionless in the paths of where their prey are most likely to cross. Though the Gaboon Viper may seem sluggish, it strikes its victims with amazing speed and agility.

They are poisonous and deadly and they have two large venom glands. The venom is a powerful haemotoxin (destroys blood cells and vessels) and its venemous bite can kill a full grown human within 15 minutes or quicker. It is important to note however, that very few people have ever been killed by this beautiful snake.

Gaboon Vipers can reach an average length of 1.2 meters, but they have been found as long as 2.2 meters. These animals will weigh about 7 to 10 kg. Their head approximately 125 mm (5 inches) big and fangs almost 55 mm (2 inches). This gives it the longest fangs of any snake in the world. This snake has fangs that fold back against the roof of the mouth. It grips onto its prey until the animal is dead. It then swallows its food whole and can gulp animals as big as Rabbits. With age this viper grows a pair of large rostral horns. When threatened this snake makes a hissing sound while staying motionless.

The Gaboon Viper is the largest of the vipers and is one of three members of the African Giant vipers group. This group includes the Puffadder Bitis arietans, Gaboon Viper Bitis Gabonica, and the Rhinoceros viper Bitis nasicornis. East African Gaboons are smaller than their West African counterparts.


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