Bitis – African vipers

Known for the ability to inflate themselves when triggered

A genus of venomous vipers that includes one of the most well-known species: the Puff Adder. These snakes are found across Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula, thriving in various habitats as long as critical conditions are met. These conditions typically include a constant supply of water, a warm climate, and suitable cover, like bushes or rocks, which provide the perfect camouflage for these reptiles.

These snakes are renowned for their robust, stout bodies and distinctive broad, triangular heads, which house the venom glands and give them a formidable appearance. The scales of African vipers are often keeled, giving their skin a textured look that enhances their natural camouflage. This feature is particularly advantageous for species like the Gaboon viper, whose leaf-like patterns enable it to blend seamlessly into the forest floor, and the Puff Adder, whose earthy tones mirror the savannah and scrublands they inhabit.

These snakes are adept ambush predators, often remaining motionless for extended periods while waiting for unsuspecting prey. Some, like the Puff Adder, are known for their unique sidewinding movement, an efficient way to travel across loose, sandy terrain. Puff Adders will exhibit a signature defensive behavior when threatened, inflating their bodies and emitting a loud hiss to deter potential predators or humans.

African vipers are generally shy and reclusive snakes but can be dangerous if threatened. They are equipped with sharp fangs that can deliver a potent venom. If an African viper ever bites you, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately.