Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)
The puff adder is a large, venomous snake that occurs throughout Africa and in the southwestern Arabian peninsula. This species usually reaches a maximum length of approximately 1 m, but the largest individuals may be nearly twice that long. Its relatively dull coloration camouflages the snake very effectively. This species is a primarily nocturnal ambush predator, preying on small mammals, birds, lizards, frogs, and toads, and while it spends most of its time on the ground, it can also swim or climb into low vegetation. It is generally slow-moving, but it can strike extremely quickly.
Due to its wide distribution, potent venom, and highly cryptic coloration which makes it prone to being stepped on inadvertently, Bitis arietans is thought to kill more people than any other African snake, accounting for nearly 32,000 deaths per year and many more disabilities. Its venom is highly toxic, capable of causing massive tissue necrosis, as well as a variety of other deleterious physical effects, apparently adapted to immobilize prey and begin the digestive process. However, unlike in some of its close relatives, the venom of B. arietans acts relatively slowly, and with proper treatment, death can be prevented in 90-95% of cases…
(read more: Encyclopedia of Life)
Photos: Javier Gállego, Morroco Herps