The largest viper in Africa,
the Gaboon can grow to over 7 feet in length,
with an average length of just under 4 feet, and
weighs 15 to 22 pounds. Females are generally
larger and heavier than males. The Gaboon also
has the largest fangs of all venomous snakes,
about 2 inches long in a full-grown adult. The
large triangular-shaped head tapers into a narrow
neck and a large, thick body.
Color patterns of Gaboon Vipers
form a symmetrical design that makes a unique
pattern on the scales. The base color is usually
brown or purple, on top of which are yellow
quadrangles that are aligned over the center of
the back. The quadrangles have hourglass-shaped
brown spaces, and there are brown or purple
triangles along the sides of the body, with
yellow and purple stains between each. The
ventral side is light yellow with dark spots, and
the eyes are grayish with a hint of silver.
Distribution and Habitat
Gaboon Vipers are found
throughout much of the tropical regions of
sub-Saharan Africa, and are most abundant in rainforests
and other moist, tropical habitats. There are two
subspecies, based on geography -- the East
African, B. g. gabonica; and the West
African, B. g. rhinoceros. The two
subspecies are similar in overall appearance, but
the West African has a pair of "horns"
between its nostrils.
The Gaboon Viper uses its
coloration to blend into the forest floor and
await its prey. Most of its diet consists of
rodents, ground-living or feeding birds,
and frogs and toads, but specimens have been
found to have ingested giant rats, brush-tailed
porcupines, and even fully grown royal antelopes.
Gaboon Vipers generally mate in
the rainy season, which froms September through
December. The female gives birth to 30-40 live
offspring after a gestation period of 7 months.
Already about a foot long at birth, the young are
immediately on their own and receive no
post-birth care or protection.
Gaboon Vipers are most active
around sunset. Except for breeding, they are
solitary. They are considered extremely
docile snakes, and do not usually attack humans
unless they are seriously provoked.
genus & species Bitis gabonica
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Bitis_gabonica/
Snake Facts http://snake-facts.weebly.com/gaboon-viper.html
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