West African gaboon viper in exhibit

West African Gaboon Viper

Scientific Name
Bitis rhinoceros
Geographic Range
West Africa
Large rodents and ground birds (also amphibians and larger mammals)
West African gaboon viper in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

Adult West African gaboon vipers are around 4 feet long and have leaf-shaped heads with large nasal horns. They feature intricate patterns with gray, brown and green geometric shapes.

These slow-moving snakes are nocturnal and live in rainforests, moist savannas, and forest edges. They spend time in leaf litter, where they are well camouflaged. They are also viviparous, so they give birth to developed 13–15 live young after a gestation of 12 months.

Did You Know?

  • West African gaboon vipers are the heaviest of the world’s true vipers.
  • At 2 inches long, their viper fangs are the longest of any venomous snake. They use them to inject prey with toxic, immobilizing venom.
  • Although they are venomous, they rarely strike in defense. If they are disturbed, these snakes tend to startle and forcibly exhale air through their nostrils.


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