African Puff Adder

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Scientific Name : Britis Arietans

Fact : The Puff Adder is one of the most venemous species of viper in the world!  Its wide distribution, common occurrence, large size, potent venom, and willingness to bite make it responsible for more fatalities than any other African snake.  Adult females give birth to live young and litters of over 80 snakes have been recorded!  Being ‘heavy-bodied’ snakes, they tend to be rather sluggish and don’t often hunt for prey, they prefer to lie and wait for prey to come to them.  This snake is one of the fastest striking snakes in the world…  It can strike it’s target and be back in it’s strking position in less than 1/60th of a second.  The force of the strike is also one of the strongest in the world, being so hard in some cases that they have no trouble piercing leather.  The venom of this snake is Cytotoxic(Cell and tissue destroying).  A bite is extremely painful and can result in the skin bubbling and the loss of limbs if untreated with anti-venom. They love basking in the sun during the rainy season, usually on rocks or in hiking trails!  Watch your step when hiking out in the African bush!

I found this little guy while hiking with my Dad at Suiker-Bos Rand this last Sunday.  I almost stepped on him but luckily, I heard him hissing as my foot was about to step down.  I didn’t realise what it was till I spotted him trying to get away in the grass.  I used some sticks that were actually way too short to move him to a rock to get some pictures.  He didn’t seem to mind too much and didn’t strike at me once.  I love snakes!