ANIMAL:West African Gaboon Viper Bitis rhinoceros
Type of Animal:
Rainforest, wet damp areas, humid forest, savanna, woodlands adjacent/nearby to rainforests/humid forests, forest edge, cacao plantations, swamps, still/moving waters, agricultural areas near forests, open rural settings, roads, found from sea level to 4,900 ft
W Africa from Guinea to Togo
Multi-patterned coloration, big leaf-shaped head, largest pitless viper in world, 2 large nasal horns on snout, very well camouflaged, stout heavy body
Small & medium-sized mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, tortoise eggs, insects
Status in Wild:
Breeding from zoos, breeders, & wildlife centers
Male: 15-17 lbs
Female: 22-25 lbs
7 monthsLife Span:
Male: 5 ft
Female: 6 ft
Young: 2.5 ft
1.14 ft, same for both sexes
Main predators of adults are monitor lizards, crocodiles, rock pythons, large raptors, & felids. Predatory fish (in water), cobras, lizards, & predatory birds prey on young.
These snakes ovoviviparous, carrying eggs in body until birth time. 8-60 snakelets come out as live young & like all venomous snakes are venomous from birth.
Females breed every 2-3 years.
Sexually mature at 3 years old.
Camouflage aids in hunting-these snakes are ambush predators.
Also called West African Gaboon Adder & Forest Puff Adders.
Primarily active at night (nocturnal).
Males compete by rubbing chins on back of each other-they then intertwine necks & push each other’s heads to ground.
While dangerous to humans, beneficial because they control rodent populations.
Heaviest venomous snake in Africa.
Has evolved ability to retain feces for incredibly long period (sometimes a few years).
Sometimes hybridize w/ smaller closely related Rhino Vipers, creating Gabino Vipers.
If harassed, these snakes will raise upper body & hiss.
While highly venomous/dangerous, these snakes tend to be very docile. Most bites occur because it was stepped on/provoked, which is fairly easy to do due to camouflage. However, they produce largest amounts of venom for any venomous snake w/ longest fangs of any venomous snake (up to 2 in)-venom combination of cytotoxic (attacking/destroying cells/tissues) & hemotoxic (attacking circulatory system/muscle tissue). While slow-moving, they have very fast strike range (175-200 mph).
Most common bite symptoms rapid/conspicuous swelling, intense sharp pain, severe shock, & local blistering. Other symptoms are uncoordinated movements, peeing/pooping oneself, swelling of tongue/eyelids, heart damage, necrosis, bruising, & unconsciousness.