Full Name: Gaboon Adder (Bitis gabonica)
Other Names: Gaboon Viper; Gaboenadder; Skoenlapperadder
Classification: VERY DANGEROUS
A large, robust adder that averages 90 – 120 cm in Southern Africa but gets much larger elsewhere in Africa. This beautifully-coloured snake occurs from Mtunzini northwards to Richards Bay, St. Lucia and Ndumo, then northwards into Mozambique, eastern Zimbabwe and elsewhere further north.
Though mainly active at night, it is fond of basking on the fringes of forests. It is surprisingly placid and may emit a series of long, drawn-out hisses with the forepart of the body elevated if threatened. Bites are virtually unheard of in South Africa but workers on tea plantations in Zimbabwe do occasionally get bitten.
Like the Puff Adder, this snake has a potent predominantly cytotoxic venom, but can inject much larger quantities in a single bite. Symptoms may include shock, severe pain, swelling, blistering and necrosis. Polyvalent antivenom is effective against the venom of this snake.
The Gaboon Adder is threatened by habitat destruction and is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ in the latest Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa.