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Venomous Animals - A

Acalyptophis peronii
Acanthophis antarcticus
Acanthophis barnetti
Acanthophis hawkei
Acanthophis laevis
Acanthophis praelongus
Acanthophis pyrrhus
Acanthophis rugosus
Acanthophis spp.
Acanthophis wellsi
Adenorhinos barbouri
Agkistrodon bilineatus
Agkistrodon contortrix
Agkistrodon piscivorus
Agkistrodon taylori
Aipysurus laevis
Androctonus aeneas
Androctonus amoreuxi
Androctonus australis
Androctonus bicolor
Androctonus crassicauda
Androctonus hoggardensis
Androctonus mauretanicus
Androctonus sergenti
Androctonus spp.
Apis mellifera scutellata
Aspidelaps lubricus
Aspidelaps scutatus
Astrotia stokesii
Atheris acuminata
Atheris broadleyi
Atheris ceratophora
Atheris chlorechis
Atheris desaixi
Atheris hirsuta
Atheris hispida
Atheris katangensis
Atheris nitschei
Atheris rungweensis
Atheris squamigera
Atheris subocularis
Atractaspis aterrima
Atractaspis bibronii
Atractaspis boulengeri
Atractaspis congica
Atractaspis corpulenta
Atractaspis dahomeyensis
Atractaspis duerdeni
Atractaspis engdahli
Atractaspis irregularis
Atractaspis leucomelas
Atractaspis microlepidota
Atractaspis reticulata
Atractaspis scorteccii
Atractaspis spp.
Atrax robustus
Atrax spp.
Atropoides mexicanus
Atropoides nummifer
Atropoides occiduus
Atropoides olmec
Atropoides picadoi
Austrelaps labialis
Austrelaps ramsayi
Austrelaps spp.
Austrelaps superbus
Azemiops feae

Acalyptophis peronii

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Identification

Family: Hydrophiidae

Scientific Names: Acalyptus peronii, Pseudodisteira horrida

Common Names: Spiney-headed sea snake, horned sea snake, Peron's sea snake

Description

Medium to large, fairly thick-bodied sea snake, adults usually 1.0-1.3 m long. Pale grey, beige, or pale brown colored body patterned w/ dark crossbands. Scales above & behind the eyes (supraoculars & postoculars) are raised & form conspicuous spines which are most highly developed in mature individuals. Most body scales w/ distinct, dark spine-like central keels.

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Habitat

Found mainly in surface waters adjacent to reefs. Reported from South China Sea & waters around Indonesia, the Philippines, & New Guinea, but it is probably rare outside Australian coastal waters.

Activity and Behavior

Prey on small or medium-sized fish while swimming in coastal marine waters, usually above coral reefs or fairly shallow sandy bottoms, sometimes in silty esturaies. Juveniles often eat shrimp. Ovoviviparous, usually 1-8 young per litter. Seldom encountered by humans in recreational swimming/ diving sites, only occasionally by fishermen. May be more active after dark than during daytime.

Venom Characteristics

Has mainly post-synaptic neurotoxins (reportedly contains myotoxic factors, too), but not well studied. No reported human envenomations (obviously, therefore, no fatalities reported either).

 


Acanthophis antarcticus

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Acanthophis antarcticus antarcticus, A. a. cliffrosswelingtoni, A. a. schistos, A. brownii, A. cerastinus

Common Names: Death adder, deaf adder, todesotter, southern death adder

Description

Adults usually less than 24 inches long, but may reach 30 inches, & are relatively heavy-bodied. Colors quite variable including shades of brown, grey, black, or reddish. Body patterned w/ crossbands which always contrast w/ its background color. Pale belly speckled w/ dark spots. Distinctive slender tail is yellow or cream colored & tipped w/ a soft, spine-like scale.

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Habitat

Found mainly in dry, sandy areas in or near open woodlands, grassy plains, or rock outcroppings. Widely distributed in Australia & New Guinea.

Activity and Behavior

Most active at dusk, dawn, or night time, but usually lies in wait for prey animals to come close enough to strike. Often remain partly buried in sand, loose soil or leaf litter. Typical prey includes small mammals, birds or lizards. Sometimes will move its brightly colored tail to lure potential prey closer. Ovoviviparous, bearing up to 20 six-inch long young per litter. These are Elapids, but their overall behavior is very similar to many of the vipers.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly neurotoxic (may also have myotoxic factors). This species has very potent venom, relatively long fangs, & may inject up to 60-70 mg of venom per bite (20 mg can kill some humans).

Acanthophis barnetti

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: (Possible synonym of either A. laevis or A. praelongus)

Common Names: Barnett's death adder

Description

Similar to several related species of "death adders". For some general characters, See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Habitat

Found in northern Papua New Guinea. For more details, See Acanthophis antarticus.

Activity and Behavior

See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Venom Characteristics

Venom is probably neurotoxic but not yet well studied. For generalized information, See Acanthophis antarcticus

 


Acanthophis hawkei

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Acanthophis cummingi, Acanthophis lancasteri

Common Names: Hawke's death adder, Cumming's death adder, Lancaster's death adder

Description

See Acanthophis antarcticus

Habitat

Found in Queensland and Northern Territory in Australia. See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Activity and Behavior

See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Venom Characteristics

See Acanthophis antarcticus.

 


Acanthophis laevis

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Acanthophis antarcticus laevis, Acanthophis groenveldi, Acanthophis macgregori

Common Names: Eastern death adder, New Guinea death adder

Description

Medium-sized, stout-bodied viper w/ fairly short slender tail. For description of a closely related species, See Acanthophis antarcticus.

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Habitat

Found mainly in dry, sandy, areas in or near open woodlands or grasslands which include rock outcroppings. See Acanthophis antarcticus. Found in Papua New Guinea & Indonesia (Irian Jaya, Seram, & Tanimbar).

Activity and Behavior

Mainly terrestrial & nocturnal. Not much reported, but probably prey on available vertebrates (e.g., lizards, small mammals & birds) & are probably ovoviviparous w/ small litter numbers. See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly neurotoxic, but may include other factors, too. See Acanthophis antarcticus.

 


Acanthophis praelongus

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Northern death adder

Description

Medium-sized, adults seldom 24 in. (60 cm) long), stout-bodied viper, w/ short narrower tail. Body dark brown w/ narrow lighter dorsal crossbands, much narrower & less obvious than those of the closely-related species, A. antarcticus.

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Habitat

Found mainly in dry, sandy open areas near open woodlands, grassy plains or rock outcroppings. Found in Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland & Western Australia), Indonesia (Seram, Irian Jaya, & Tanimbar), & Papua New Guinea. See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly terrestrial & nocturnal, often active at dusk or dawn, sluggish during day. Usually await prey in an "ambush" hunting strategy. Will bite quickly if stepped on or disturbed. Slow to retreat when threatened. May hang onto bitten prey or person. See Acanthophis antarcticus. Eat available lizards, small mammals, & birds. Ovoviviparous, litter size not reported but probably few.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly mainly strongly neurotoxic, may also have anticoagulant or cytotoxic factors. See Acanthophis antarcticus.

 


Acanthophis pyrrhus

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Acanthophis antarcticus pyrrhus, Acanthophis pyrrhus armstrongi, Aggressiserpens armstrongi, Aggressiserpens pyrrhus

Common Names: Desert death adder

Description

This is a bright orange-brown or reddish-brown desert species, crossbanded w/ paler shades of body color. Tip of tail usually black. Scales are heavily keeled & give it a bristly appearance. Size & relative body shape similar to A. antarcticus, but a bit smaller (adults seldom more than 75 cm long) & more slender.

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Habitat

This species is confined to the western & central desert regions of Australia. Local habitats are generally similar to those for "A. antarcticus".

Activity and Behavior

Most active at night. Seldom move about in daytime. Otherwise, behavior & habits are generally very similar to those described for "A. antarcticus". This species preys mainly on small lizards. Ovoviviparous w/ usually 10-13 young per litter.

Venom Characteristics

Venom is mainly neurotoxic but may contain myotoxic factors.

Acanthophis rugosus

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Acanthophis antarcticus rugosus, A. bottomi, A. lancasteri, A. woolfi

Common Names: Rauhnackige, Todesotter

Description

See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Habitat

Found in eastern, northern and western Australia and Indonesia (Irian Jaya). See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Activity and Behavior

See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Venom Characteristics

See Acanthophis antarcticus.

 


Acanthophis spp.

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Taxonomic experts have differing opinions, but from 5 to 11 named species are currently recognized as belonging in this genus (8 are addressed individually here). See each separately-listed species.

Common Names: Death adders, "deaf" adders (reportedly, based on their reluctance to move when approached, early settlers presumed they could not "hear" anything approaching them).

Description

Members of this genus are usually short, squat, terrestrial snakes; w/ adults usually 30-50 cm long, (max. about 100 cm). Body color highly variable dorsally: red, brown, or grayish, either uniform or w/ alternating pale & dark crossbands. Head triangulate, stubby body & thin tail often having a soft spine-like scale at its tip. Belly light-colored, speckled w/ dark spots.

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Habitat

Found mainly in dry, sandy areas in or near open woodlands, grassy plains, or rock outcroppings. Some species are widespread in monsoon & rain forests, both lowland & highland, & coastal sand dunes.

Activity and Behavior

Most species are typically nocturnal, sit-&-wait ambushers, sluggish during day. Often hide in leaf litter or loose sand. Commonly found asleep on paths & trails during day; usually bite if stepped on. Strike quickly. Following initial bite, often hang on, not attempting to flee like most other elapids. Some use tail to lure prey. Essentially fill the "niche" occupied by true vipers in other regions.

Venom Characteristics

Venom of most species is strongly to moderately neurotoxic; weakly hemolytic, possibly anticoagulant and cytotoxic. Bite site may be painless or mildly painful. Symptoms usually mild, until severe neurotoxic paralysis occurs. Early mild headache & occasional vomiting in some cases.

Acanthophis wellsi

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Acanthophis wellsei, A. wellsi donnellani, A. w. wellsei, Aggressiserpens wellsi

Common Names: Wells' death adder

Description

See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Habitat

Found only in Australia (Hamersleys & Chichesters Range of the Pilbara). See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Activity and Behavior

See Acanthophis antarcticus.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known but probably mainly neurotoxic. See Acanthophis antarcticus.

 


Adenorhinos barbouri

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris barbouri

Common Names: Uzungwe Mountain bush viper, Barbour's (bush) viper, Uzungwe viper

Description

Small terrestrial adder, adults seldom exceed 40 cm long. Body dull olive, dorsal scales keeled & in 20-23 midbody rows, head triangular & distinct from neck, w/ a short, rounded snout; w/ a pair of straw-colored, dorso-lateral, zig-zag stripes from back of head to tip of rather short tail. Belly greenish-white to olive, & usually paler than dorsum. Sometimes has faint black checkering on top of tail.

Habitat

Found mainly in bush & bamboo undergrowth on mountain slopes at about 1800 m elevation. Limited to the Uzungwe & Ukinga Mountains of southwestern Tanzania.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known. Probably mainly terrestrial & mainly nocturnal. May feed on slugs or other available soft-bodied invertebrates. Reproduction habits not known.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known. No known human bites or envenomations. No specific antivenom currently being produced.

 


Agkistrodon bilineatus

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Ancistrodon bilineatum, A. bilineatus, Agkistrodon bilineatum, A. bilineatus bilineatus, A. b. howardgloydi, A. b. lemosespinali, A. b. russeolus, Trigonocephalus bilineatus, T. specialis

Common Names: Cantil, Mexican Moccasin, Mokassinslange, common cantil, vibora castelana, k'an ti, q'an ti, cazadora, cumcoatl, cantil de agua, cuatro narices, gammarrilla, volpochh, bil palka, kantiil [plus >10 additional local dialect names]

Description

Large, heavy-bodied pitviper, adults usually 80-120 cm (max. 138 cm) long w/ fairly long slender tail, fangs may be 12 mm long. Color variable, usually dark gray to almost black w/ 10-19 (usually 12-15) brown to black crossbands, often outlined by thin whitish lines; body may also have yellow, red, or lavendar scales; w/ 2 distinct pale lines along sides of head. Belly dark grayish to reddish-brown, lightest along middle, w/ scattered whitish spots (& often w/ dark chestnut-brown lateral spots).

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Habitat

Most commonly found in seasonally dry, tropical deciduous scrub forest & large grassy plains w/ scattered trees, mainly in coastal foothills in parts of southern & western Mexico & Central America. Often shelters in crevices or under rocks. Mainly found in lower to moderate elevations, usually <600 m (max. about 1,500 m). Also found in the Rio Chixoy (Negro) Valley in central Guatemala.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly terrestrial & mainly nocturnal. Agressive when provoked; will strike repeatedly. Ovoviviparous w/ each female bearing about a dozen 10-inch long neonates/ litter. Preys on available small mammals, lizards, birds, amphibians & reptiles. Juveniles often eat invertebrates, too.

Venom Characteristics

Primarily hemotoxic, necrotic effects reportedly often extensive; serious human envenomations & fatalities have occurred. This apecies is the third most frequent cause of snake envenomations of humans in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

Agkistrodon contortrix

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix, A. c. laticinctus, A. c. mokeson, A. c. mokasen, A. c. phaenogaster, A. c. pictigaster, A. mokesen austrinus, A. mokason cupreus, A. m. pictigaster, Boa contortrix, Cenchris atrofuscus, C. contortrix, C. marmorata, C. mokasen, C. mokeson, Scytalus cupreus, S. mokeson, Tisiphone cuprea, Trigonocephalus atrofuscus, T. cenchris, T. contortrix, T. histrionicus

Common Names: Copperhead, Southern Copperhead, Northern Copperhead, Broad-banded Copperhead, Osage Copperhead, Trans-Pecos Copperhead, Upland Moccasin, Kupferkopf, beech leaf snake, congo, rusty moccasin, copper snake, dumb rattlesnake, copper adder

Description

Medium-sized, stout-bodied pitviper, adults usually 40-80 cm long. Body usually pale brown, tan or reddish-brown, w/ alternating broad bands of light (pale grayish-yellow to tan) & dark (sandy, chestnut or chocolate brown), a very thin pale line postocular stripe. Tail of young copperheads is usually rather bright yellow (sometimes w/ a greenish tint).

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Habitat

Most common in wooded regions containing rocky canyons, springs, or streams; may be found far from permanent water in desert scrub areas, & sometimes in low coastal areas. Found from southeastern Nebraska & Iowa east to Massachusetts & south into northeastern corner of Mexico (at least in the Rio Grande valley) & all U.S. states south & east of those listed.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly nocturnal; often basks in sunny spots, has a tendency to follow prey close to civilized areas. Preys on small mammals, birds, frogs, & cicadas (sometimes climbing in bushes to catch them). Females bear 8-inch long, live young, usually in or near former hybernation sites.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly hemotoxic & relatively mild; seldom injects large amounts of venom. Bites can produce severe local pain but fatalities are very rare.

Agkistrodon piscivorus

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Acontias leucostoma, Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti, A. p. leucostoma, A. p. piscivorus, Ancistrodon piscivorax, A. p. piscovorax, A. p. pugnax, Crotalus piscivorus, Toxicophis piscivorus, Trigonocephalus piscivorus

Common Names: Engl.: Cottonmouth (several subspecies are respectively called eastern, Western and Florida Cottonmouths), water mocassin, gapper, snap jaw, black moccasin, congo, Native Amer.: hiwa, hiwachoba, okifa chinto, we'-ts'a u-bi-xo

Description

Heavy-bodied pitviper, adults about 80-150 cm long (max. 180 cm); olive to light or dark brown, w/ dark brown or black irregular-edged crossbands, belly & chin usually white to tan (darker toward tail), adults' tail dark, inside of mouth & throat strikingly white, tongue bright red, 23-27 midbody dorsal scale rows. Juveniles usually paler, more brightly patterned, w/ yellow tail tip. Eastern & southeastern populations usually paler & stouter. Completely dark & very pale individuals occur.

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Habitat

Found mainly in or near water, like swamps, streams, or lakes; but often considerable distances away in fields or open forest. Reported from the Rio Grande valley in southern Texas to Kansas, then east through Iowa & southern Indiana to southeastern Virginia, and all areas south and east from there. Can bite under water, despite a common belief that they can't. May have formerly been present on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, but no confirmed records.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly nocturnal, but often basks in sunlight on rocks or logs in or by water. If disturbed while in or near water, they usually slip into the water and swim away. If cornered away from water, often form a coil, arch the head back and gape the mouth wide, showing strikingly white interior. Eat small mammals, fish, amphibians, birds, etc. May become aggressive if disturbed. Can bite very effectively under water.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly hemotoxic, often includes a thrombin-like anticoagulation effect, envenomation has been reported historically to cause a number of human fatalities, but in one set of careful observations, less than 20% of known envenomations were fatal (without any antivenom given).

Agkistrodon taylori

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Ancistrodon bilineatus, Agkistrodon bilineatus, A. b. lemosespinali, A. b. taylori

Common Names: Taylor's cantil, Cola huesco, hueson, metapil, navaja, Mexican Moccasin

Description

Fairly large, heavy-bodied pitviper, adults usually 64-90 cm long (max. 96+ cm), tail relatively shorter than for A. bilineatus. Color variable, body usually grayish to brownish-gray w/ 11-16 (avg. 13) dark dorsal crossbands, irregularly outlined w/ rows of white to yellow-orange flecks (may also have some reddish & orange scales). Has 2 distinct, pale (yellowish-white) stripes along each side of head. Juveniles w/ gray & creamy-yellow dorsal crossbands & yellow tail tip.

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Habitat

Mainly found in mesquite-grassland, thornforest, & tropical deciduous forest in northeastern Mexico. Most often found away from water, on or near rocky hillsides, w/ abundant limestone outcroppings. Limited to Mexican states of Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, & Hidalgo (& maybe eastern Coahuila) & usually at moderate or lower elevations of <600 m.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly terrestrial, & mainly nocturnal. Preys mainly on available lizards, small mammals, & birds, but often also eats grasshoppers & other arthropods. Sometimes basks in morning sunlight. Ovoviviparous w/ 3-10 young/ litter observed for captured specimens.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly hemotoxic. Can cause extensive tissue necrosis. Serious human envenomations and deaths have been reported to have been caused by this species.

 


Aipysurus laevis

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Identification

Family: Hydrophiidae

Scientific Names: Aipysurus fuliginosus, Hypotropis jukesii

Common Names: Olive-brown sea snake, large olive sea snake, olive pipe sea snake

Description

Large, sea snake (up to 2.0 m long); body generally cylindrical w/ dark olive-colored to brownish-green dorsal surface & cream to light yellow-gray venter (usually including more than half the body surface). Tail somewhat laterally flattened. One pair of upper fixed front fangs.

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Habitat

Found in marine waters around Indonesia, Timor, New Guinea, east to New Caledonia, & Australia (Western Australia, North Territory, & Queensland). Usually found in small individual home ranges around a single coral outcropping (bommie).

Activity and Behavior

Prey on various fish, & sometimes prawns, along relatively shallow to moderately-deep coral reefs. Generally docile, but inquisitive, & will investigate new things or people in their location; may be attracted to a divers' face plate; when rebuffed, they will sometimes become aggressive & pursue (& may try to bite) a diver. Ovoviviparous, usually bearing 1-5 young / litter.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly post-synaptic neurotoxins & myotoxins, but contains factors which may also be cytotoxic. Serious, non-fatal snake bites & envenomations of humans by this species have been recorded. Fangs of adults can be 4.7 mm long, & can penetrate some divers' neoprene wetsuits.

Androctonus aeneas

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Identification

Family: Buthidae

Scientific Names: Androctonus aeneas liouvillei

Common Names: Black scorpion, fat-tailed scorpion

Description

Medium to large sized dark, fat-tailed scorpion, adults usually about 50 mm long, very similar in appearance to A. australis & A. crassicauda.

Habitat

Mainly found in arid or semi-arid sites, usually w/ sandy soil, in northwestern Africa. For more detailed description of typical local habitat for a closely-related species, See Androctonus crassicauda.

Activity and Behavior

Nocturnal, hides in crevices or under various objects during the day. Preys on a variety of available insects & invertebrates, & sometimes small lizards. Mating involves a courtship "dance." Young (usually 5-20+) hatch from eggs within female, then crawl out her genital opening. Often use both pincers & sting in defense & to capture & subdue prey.

Venom Characteristics

Not well known. Mainly neurotoxic, w/ several body systems & organs of humans being affected. Usually causes immediate local pain, reddening & swelling at sting site; has caused death of human children.

Androctonus amoreuxi

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Identification

Family: Buthidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Fat-tailed scorpion, black scorpion (some color forms)

Description

Very similar in size, appearance, & physical characters to both A. australis & A. crassicauda.

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Habitat

Fairly wide-spread in northern Africa & Middle East; Probably also occurs in Iraq, Syria, & Libya, but no verified specimens from there. For general description of typical habitat for a closely-related species, See Androctonus crassicauda.

Activity and Behavior

Nocturnal, hides in crevices & under various objects during day. Preys on a variety of insects & other arthropods (may be cannibalistic), & sometimes small lizards. Uses both pedipalps & sting in defense & to capture prey. Mate via elaborate courtship "dance," typically 5-30+ young hatch within female & crawl out of her genital opening.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly neurotoxic, w/ cardiotoxic & myotoxic factors. Venom reportedly less potent than that of A. austalis &/or A. crassicauda.

Androctonus australis

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Identification

Family: Buthidae

Scientific Names: Androctonus australis australis, A. a. hector

Common Names: Dark desert scorpion, fat-tailed scorpion

Description

Largest species of the dark, fat-tailed scorpions in this genus. Adults usually 50-80 mm long (max. 110+ mm). Body heavy, usually medium to dark brown, w/ legs yellow-brown & tips of pincers & telson almost black; 4 dorsal ridges w/ serrate crests along each post-abdomen segment. Numerous short, stiff dark hairs &/or spines scattered over body & post-abdomen. Pincers (pedipalps) large, robust at base; generally fearsome-looking, re-curved spine at tip of tail.

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Habitat

Found mainly in margins of deserts or very arid places across most of North Africa, Pakistan & India, & very likely most Middle-Eastern countries between (but not many specimens collected there, so far). Occurs mainly in very dry areas, seldom very near a coast or permanent body of water. Most wide-spread geographically, of any species in this genus.

Activity and Behavior

Nocturnal, hides in crevices or under various objects during day. Can climb most vertical surfaces very well (to >20 ft. above ground). Preys on a wide range of insects, invertebrates, other scorpions (sometimes cannibalistic), small lizards & sometimes even small mammals. Mating involves elaborate courtship "dance." Young (usually 5-35+) hatch within female & then crawl out her genital opening. Use both sting & pincers in defense & for prey capture.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly neurotoxic w/ additional cardiotoxic, myotoxic & hemotoxic factors. Often affects several body organs & systems of humans; mainly respiratory or cardiac. Human deaths reportedly most often due to respiratory or heart failure; sometimes cerebral hemorrhage, critical organ dysfunction, or shock may be involved. Has the most potent venom of any species in this genus.

Androctonus bicolor

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Identification

Family: Buthidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Fat-tailed scorpion, black scorpion, bi-colored scorpion

Description

Medium-sized, dark fat-tailed scorpion, adults usually 40-60 mm long (max. about 80 mm). Body usually very dark, like A. crassicauda, but terminal segments of legs & pedipalpi lighter yellowish-brown. Pincers not as robust at base as those of A. crassicauda.

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Habitat

Mainly found in arid, semi-arid or margins of desert sites, usually w/ sandy soil. Found in very similar conditions to those suitable for A. crassicauda, & geographic distribution greatly overlaps that of A. crassicauda. Reported from several countries in the Middle East & Turkey; may also be present in Lebanon, Syria & Iraq, but no specimens reported from there, so far.

Activity and Behavior

Nocturnal, hiding in crevices or under objects in the day. Preys mainly on various available insects & arthropods. Elaborate mating "dance." Young hatch from eggs retained within female then crawl out her genital opening.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly neurotoxic, w/ cardiotoxic & myotoxic factors, comparable in potency to the venom of A. crassicauda. Causes locally painful, reddened & slightly swollen area at sting site, but not reported to have caused human deaths.

 


Androctonus crassicauda

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Identification

Family: Buthidae

Scientific Names: Androctonus crassicauda gonneti [ NOTE: This is the second most wide-spread species in this typically Middle-Eastern, North African, & South Asian genus. ]

Common Names: Black Turkish fat-tailed scorpion, fat-tailed scorpion

Description

Moderately large dark fat-tailed scorpion, adults usually about 50 mm long (max. 73+ mm). Body heavy, dark brown (often nearly black), w/ 4 or more dorsal, longitudinal ridges w/ serrate crests on most segments of the post-abdomen, & numerous short, stiff, dark hairs & spines scattered over body & post-abdomen. Pedipalps (pincers) large, robust at base; generally fearsome-looking. Re-curved sting at tip of post-abdomen (telson).

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Habitat

Mainly found in margins of desert, arid, semi-arid sites w/ sandy surface soil, sometimes found in accumulated vegetation debris, or in rock crevices. This species is widespread in Turkey, & in several other Middle Eastern & North African countries. One subspecies, A. c. gonneti, apparently limited to Morocco.

Activity and Behavior

Nocturnal, hide in crevices & under various objects during day, can climb most surfaces (all but very smooth glass) to surprising vertical heights (>20 ft.). Prey mainly on smaller insects & invertebrates, but occasionally kill & suck body juices out of small lizards (& rarely, very small mammals). Use sting at tip of post-abdomen to defend themselves & sometimes to kill large prey. Eggs hatch inside female & young (usually 7-30+) crawl out her genital opening.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly neurotoxic, but usually includes cardiotoxic, & often also myotoxic factors. Effects of envenomation (sting) usually include immediate severe local pain, redness & swelling; plus delayed (from one to 24+ hours later) systemic effects which may involve heart malfunctions, remote internal bleeding & problems w/ vision & breathing. Human deaths reportedly most often due to respiratory arrest, heart failure, or shock.

Androctonus hoggardensis

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Identification

Family: Buthidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Fat-tailed desert scorpion

Description

Medium-sized, moderately-dark, fat-tailed scorpion, adults about 40-50 mm long. Body colors, pattern & physical appearance very similar to A. australis, but generally much lighter in color & markedly smaller. Body yellowish-brown to medium-brown, w/ yellowish-brown legs & post-abdomen. Tips of pincers & telson not very dark brown.

Habitat

Very similar to habitat of A. australis. Only reported from Algeria & Nigeria; but probably also occurs in adjacent areas of Chad, Mali, & Libya. For more detailed description of typical local habitat for a closely-related species, See Androctonus australis.

Activity and Behavior

Nocturnal, hides in cracks & under various objects in daytime. Preys mainly on available insects & other arthropods. Has an elaborate mating "dance," & young hatch inside female & crawl out her genital opening. May use both pincers & sting in own defense & to catch prey.

Venom Characteristics

Not well known, but probably mainly neurotoxic, w/ cardiotoxic & myotoxic factors. Few stings of humans & no human fatalities confirmed to have been caused by this species.

 


Androctonus mauretanicus

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Identification

Family: Buthidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Moroccan fat-tailed scorpion, black scorpion

Description

Medium-sized to large, moderately dark, fat-tailed scorpion, adults about 50 mm long. Body yellowish-brown to very dark brown (almost black), w/ yellow-brownish legs, pincers & post-abdomen darker near tips. Re-curved sting at end of telson.

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Habitat

Mainly found in semi-arid areas w/ sandy soils. Apparently limited to Morocco. For more detailed description of typical local habitats for a closely-related species, See Androctonus crassicauda.

Activity and Behavior

Nocurnal, hides in cracks or under various objects during day. Preys mainly on insects & other smaller arthropods. Has a complex mating "dance." Young hatch from eggs within female then crawl out her genital opening. May use both pincers & sting in defense & to catch prey.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly neurotoxic, w/ additional factors that are cardiotoxic, myotoxic, & maybe also hemotoxic. Second most potent of any species in this genus. Causes a number of human deaths every year within its range. See Androctonus australis.

Androctonus sergenti

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Identification

Family: Buthidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Fat-tailed scorpion

Description

Medium-sized fat-tailed scorpion, adults about 40-50 mm long. Body colors, pattern & size very similar to A. aeneas; but slightly smaller & w/ slightly lighter-colored pincer tips & telson (i.e., medium-brown, not dark brown).

Habitat

Mainly found in dry, semi-desert areas at medium elevations on slopes of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. For more detailed description of typical local habitat of a very similar species, See Androctonus mauritanicus.

Activity and Behavior

Nocturnal, hides during the day in available crevices or under objects. Preys mainly on available insects & other arthropods.

Venom Characteristics

Not well known, but probably mainly neurotoxic, w/ additional factors that are cardiotoxic & myotoxic. Not known to have caused serious human envenomations or deaths. For more details of potential venom effects, See Androctonus crassicauda.

 


Androctonus spp.

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Identification

Family: Buthidae

Scientific Names: This genus includes at least 13 currently recognized species, but only 8 of those pose significant health threats by stinging humans. The other 5 species are relatively rare, have rather limited distributions, have seldom been reported to sting people, &/or have not been reported to cause human fatalities, nor serious envenomations. See individual species (listed separately) for more details.

Common Names: Fat-tailed scorpions, dark desert scorpions

Description

Most are medium to large sized, fat-tailed, scorpions, adults of most species are usually 50-80 mm long (some >110 mm). Body is usually medium to dark brown, w/ legs lighter (often yellowish), & tips of pincers & telson very dark. Typically have serrate dorsal crests along post-abdomen segments, & many short, stiff, dark spines (or "hairs") scattered over body. Pincers medium to large, moderately stout, often fearsome looking, w/ recurved spine (stinger) at tip of telson.

Habitat

Mainly found in margins of deserts or very arid sites (like around an oasis or human home), across most of North Africa, southern Asia & the Middle East. Some species live at >500 m elevations. See individual species, listed separately, for more precise reported distributions.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly nocturnal, hide in crevices or under various objects during the day. Most can climb vertical surfaces well (to >20 ft. above ground). Prey on a wide variety of insects, invertebrates, other scorpions (sometimes cannibalistic), sometimes also small lizards (occasionally even very small mammals). Young (usually 5-35+) hatch within the female then crawl out her genital opening. Often remain w/ female (climb & ride on her back) until 2nd instar.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly neurotoxic, often w/ additional cardiotoxic, myotoxic, or hemotoxic factors. Often affects several body organs or systems at the same time. Human deaths reported to usually be due to heart or respiratory failure, sometimes cerebral hemorrhage may also be involved.

Apis mellifera scutellata

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Identification

Family: Apidae

Scientific Names: Apis scutellata

Common Names: Africanized honey bee (or AHB)

Description

Look identical to typical "domesticated" European honey bees (microscopic measurement differences). Body about 1.5-2.5 cm long, dark-brown w/ yellow-brown hairs covering thorax, most of head & in bands across abdomen; wings clear & membranous. Social insects, work co-operatively in large colonies (often thousands of individuals) w/ a caste system. Large, dark compound eyes, elongated tongue-like mouthparts, carry pollen stuck among hairs of hind legs.  

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Habitat

When found "wild", these & other honey bees typically live in warmer to temperate climates, in large colonies (usually called hives; often built in various available somewhat "protected" cavities), w/ honey storage combs & brood chambers built of beeswax, w/ social castes.  Wild populations of “Africanized” honey bees have become widely established throughout South and Central America, and as far north as the southern tier of states in the U.S.  “Africanized” bees have resulted from crossing of the subspecies of domesticated honey bees most widely commercially cultured in the Americas, A. m. ligustica, and the African subspecies, A. m. scutellata

Activity and Behavior

Duirnal, usually foraging & collecting nectar & pollen from available flowers, & various nest (hive) & brood maintenance. This subspecies is much more aggressive than typical "domesticated" (European/ Italian) subspecies, w/ >50% of workers in a colony attacking an intruder w/ slightest provocation; & will maintain attack for 1/4 mile or farther. This subspecies will forage during overcast & in light rain. Tend to "swarm" or abscond more than European subspecies does.

Venom Characteristics

Contains enzymes, peptides, histamine (causes local pain & vasodilation), & hyaluronidase (spreading factor). About 50-60% of venom's dry-weight is peptides (mainly melittin & mast-cell degranulating peptide). Peptides cause cell lysis, pain & inflammation; phospholipases (esp. A2) cause allergic reactions. This subspecies' venom is NOT more potent than European bees', but significantly more stings usually inflicted. Deaths usually due to anaphylactic shock.

Aspidelaps lubricus

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Aspidelaps lubricus cowlesi, A. l. infuscatus, A. l. lubricus, Elaps lubricus, Natrix lubricus

Common Names: Angolan coral snake, Western coral snake, Cape coral snake, South African Coral Snake

Description

Small, relatively thick-bodied terrestrial Elapid snake, adults usually 30-50 cm long (max. 80 cm). Body color usually orange to coral-red, patterned dorsally w/ 20-47 black crossbands. First black band usually extends (like a chevron) onto the top of the head. Belly usually yellowish-white w/ the frist 2-3 dorsal black bands extending as complete ventral crossbars, too. Juveniles may have additional faint dark crossbands on belly farther toward tail.

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Habitat

Found mainly in dry, sandy, or rocky regions of semi-arid scrublands & desert fringes. Found in the Republic of South Africa (Cape Province), southern Angola, & Namibia.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly nocturnal & terrestrial. Relatively easily excited, never becomes tame in captivity. When disturbed or exposed, it rears up, spreads a narrow hood, & hisses in defense (may strike at intruder if further bothered). Oviparous w/ usually 3-11 eggs/ clutch observed. Preys mainly on available lizards, but also eats reptile eggs & small rodents.

Venom Characteristics

Not very well known. Venom mainly neurotoxic w/ possible mild cytotoxic factors. Few bites & envenomations of humans reported w/ limited, mainly localized minor swelling & pain. No human fatalities reported.

 


Aspidelaps scutatus

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Aspidelaps scutatus bachrani, A. s. fulafulus, A. s. intermedius, A. s. scutatus, Cyrtophis scutatus

Common Names: Shield-nosed Snake, Eastern shield-nosed snake, Intermediate shield-nosed snake, Schildnasenkobra, Schildkobra

Description

Small, heavy-bodied terrestrial Elapid, adults usually 40-60 cm long (max. about 75 cm). Has a much enlarged "shield-like" rostral scale (on top of its snout) & 21 midbody dorsal scale rows. Body color usually pale gray-brown, salmon-pink, or orange-brown w/ a series of brown blotches over the back & tail. Head & forepart of body glossy black.

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Habitat

Found mainly in savanna & sandveld areas; & in arid sandy & stony regions. Found in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, northeastern Republic of South Africa, & Zimbabwe.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly terrestrial & nocturnal. Usually sluggish, but may be very active after rains. Very active burrower, often using man-made items, like partly buried plastic pipes as "burrows." May "play dead" if cornered, but usually hisses explosively & strikes repeatedly if molested. It will rear the front part of its body & flatten its neck when disturbed, but does not have a true hood like typical cobras. Oviparous w/ 4-11 eggs/ clutch observed. Eats lizards, small mammals & other snakes.

Venom Characteristics

Venom reportedly primarily neurotoxic. Humans are occasionally bitten & envenomated. Reported symptoms have ranged from mild local swelling & pain to death (of small children) due to cardiac arrest. No known antivenom currently produced.

 


Astrotia stokesii

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Identification

Family: Hydrophiidae

Scientific Names: Astrotia schizopholis, Disteira stokesii, Hydrophis guentheri, H. granosa, H. guttata, H. schizopholis

Common Names: Stokes's sea snake

Description

Largest of the sea snakes, reaching a maximum length of about 6 feet (1.8 m). Very heavy-bodied, w/ colors varying from black through shades of grey to dull white. Indistinct pattern of blotches, reticulations or crossbands may be present. Has a raised ventral keel formed by its elongated & divided ventral scales.

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Habitat

Found only in marine waters (usually found at >10 m deep), mainly in coastal areas from western India & Sri Lanka west through the Gulf of Siam to the China Sea, western Malaysia, Indonesia, east to New Guinea & the northern & eastern coasts of Australia, southeastern Asian Sea (Pakistan to Australia), & the Philippine Islands. May also occur in coastal waters of additional nearby countries, or islands, but specimens not yet documented from them.

Activity and Behavior

Usually found in deep, open marine water, especially where there is turbidity or silting. Very agile swimmers. Females bear litters of about 12 live young each about 12 inches long. Probably both diurnal & nocturnal, but seldom observed at night. Prey mainly on various available fish.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly neurotoxic, but not well studied.

Atheris acuminata

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris acuminatus, Atheris hispidus (in part)

Common Names: Bush viper

Description

For generalized description of a very closely-related species, See Atheris hispidus (some authors claim this may be a sub-species of A. hispidus).

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Habitat

Typically found in forests or forest margins. Reported only from western Uganda.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known, but probably mainly arboreal, mainly nocturnal, probably ovoviviparous (w/ a usual litter of <15 young), & probably mainly preys on available small mammals, lizards & frogs. For details about a closely-related species, See Atheris hispidus.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known, but probably mainly hemotoxic. Bites of humans extremely rare, & no documented serious human envenomations or fatalities, so far. No specific antivenom currently produced.

 


Atheris broadleyi

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris squamigera

Common Names: Cameroon bush viper

Description

A medium-sized, "rough-scaled" true viper (adder) of varied colors & patterns. Very similar to "A. squamigera".

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Habitat

Found mainly in forest margins. Reported only from Cameroon (East Province).

Activity and Behavior

Mainly arboreal & usually nocturnal, but may bask in the sun occasionally, & sometimes hunts for small animal prey near or on the ground. See Atheris squamigera.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known, but mainly hemotoxic.

 


Atheris ceratophora

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris ceratophorus

Common Names: Usambara bush viper

Description

Medium-sized fairly slender, arboreal adder, adults usually 0.6 m long (max. <1.0 m), w/ 21-23 midbody dorsal scale rows. Body usually yellow-green or dark olive-green, mottled w/ dark-brown (all-black forms have been reported). Head very broad, triangular, w/ 3 horn-like scales above each eye. Most scales are strongly-keeled & their tips project away from the body, giving a "rough" appearance. Belly dirty-orange to nearly black, & may have black speckles.

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Habitat

Found mainly in bushes at forest edge & in forest glades. Limited to Tanzania (Usambara, Uluguru, Uzungwe Mountains).

Activity and Behavior

Arboreal (may climb to 20 ft. above ground), mainly nocturnal (maybe crepuscular) but often basks in the sun. Often forage for small mammal (rodent) prey on the ground. Ovoviviparous, typically bears 5-8 young/ litter, each about 6 inches long.

Venom Characteristics

Venom likely hemotoxic, but not well studied. Considered nonlethal to man. No known specific antivenom currently produced.

 


Atheris chlorechis

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris chloroechis, A. squamiger chlorechis, A. polylepis, Echis chloroechis, Toxicoa chloroechis, Vipera chlorechis, V. chloroechis

Common Names: Western bush viper

Description

Medium-sized arboreal adder, adults usually 45-55 cm long (max. 70+ cm), w/ 25-36 midbody dorsal rows of keeled scales. Body usually uniform pale-green above, darkening a little on sides & toward tail. Belly paler green. Tail long, strongly prehensile. Young usually w/ tail tipped w/ sulphur-yellow.

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Habitat

Mainly found in green shrubs & foliage fairly near ground in west African rainforests. Limited to tropical & subtropical western African countries (mainly from Guinea eastward to Ghana).

Activity and Behavior

Strongly arboreal (within 1-2 m of ground), but rarely hunts small rodent prey at ground level. Mainly nocturnal or crepuscular (active at dusk & dawn), but may bask in sun. Ovoviviparous w/ usually 6-9 young/ litter.

Venom Characteristics

Not well known, but venom likely hemotoxic, although no record of human bites. No known specific antivenom currently produced.

 


Atheris desaixi

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Ashe's bush viper, Mount Kenya bush viper

Description

Medium-sized fairly slender arboreal adder, adults usually 40-60 cm long, w/ 24-31 midbody rows of keeled dorsal scales. Body usually dark-brown or black w/ yellow posterior border. Some body scales have light or cream-colored edges or tips, producing a thin, irregular, light yellow zig-zag pattern along the snake's back. Belly usually light-yellow.

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Habitat

Generally found in evergreen forests & forest edges at about 1,600 m elevation. Reported only from Kenya.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known. Mainly arboreal, but often hunts small rodent prey at ground level. Mainly nocturnal, but often basks in sun. Ovoviviparous, w/ 13 young in oberved litter of a captured female. For similar details about a closely related species, See Atheris squamigera.

Venom Characteristics

Venom likely hemotoxic. Not considered lethal to humans. No known antivenom produced.

 


Atheris hirsuta

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris hirsutus

Common Names: Green bush viper

Description

Medium-sized, "rough-scaled" viper which is generally brown to olive-green occasionally w/ small amounts darker (& sometimes lighter) cross bands or speckled patterning. Similar & apparently closely related to A. squamigera (possibly a sub-species of that species).

Habitat

Usually found in forests & edges of forest clearings. Reported only from the Ivory Coast.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly nocturnal, but sometimes basks in sunshine. Mainly arboreal, but sometimes hunts small animals on the ground. Ovoviviparous (litter size not reported but probably <15 young). Mainly prey on available small mammals & lizards (maybe also frogs).

Venom Characteristics

Not much known, but mainly hemotoxic.

 


Atheris hispida

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris hispidus, A. squamigera

Common Names: African hairy bush viper, Rough-scaled bush viper, Spiny bush viper

Description

Adults usually 0.5-0.7 m long. Background color may vary from uniform yellow through differing combinations of green, brown, or black; belly usually pale green. Scales heavily keeled & upturned, giving a very bristly appearance.

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Habitat

Generally found in forests, inland swamps, & reed & papyrus swamps adjacent to lakes & rivers. Found in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire - Lutunguru & Kivu Provinces), southwestern Uganda, western Kenya, & northwestern Tanzania.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly nocturnal but sometimes basks in the sun. Capable of climbing reeds & stalks, often basking atop terminal leaves or flowers. Sometimes hunts small animal prey at ground level.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known. Venom most likely hemotoxic. Venom not likely fatal to humans except in very unusual circumstances.

 


Atheris katangensis

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Katanga mountain bush viper

Description

Similar to other species of 'rough scaled" bush (or leaf) vipers. See Atheris squamiger.

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Habitat

Found in the southern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire - Katanga). Typically lives in rain forests, open woodlands bordering forests, & swamps.

Activity and Behavior

See Atheris squamiger.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly hemotoxic, but not well known.

 


Atheris nitschei

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris nitschei nitschei, A. n. rungweensis, A. woosnami

Common Names: Great Lakes bush viper, Black-and-green bush viper, Nitsche's bush viper

Description

Medium-sized arboreal adder, adults usually 40-70 cm long (max. 73+ cm). Body usually bright or olive green above w/ black markings; rarely nearly all black w/ lighter tail. Dorsal scales keeled & in 23-33 midbody rows. Belly usually yellowish or very pale green; distinctly lighter than dorsal surface. Irregular black markings on body & head produced by darker tips of some scales (may form a zig-zag pattern). Young usually rich, uniform chocolate-brown or gray-brown w/ bright yellow tail tip.

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Habitat

Found mainly above ground, in reeds & papyrus of lake margins or upland swamps, or up to 3 m above ground in elephant grass of humid valleys (usually at 1650-2800 m elevation). Sometimes found at ground level. May also be found in Malawi & Zambia, but specimens from there probably belong to the recently elevated species A. rungweensis (formerly a subspecies of A. nitschei).

Activity and Behavior

Mainly arboreal & usually nocturnal, sometimes basks in the sun & hunts on the ground at night. Less excitable than most other Bush Vipers, but often aggressive if disturbed even slightly. Prey mainly on small mammals, lizards (also frogs). Ovoviviparous, w/ usually 5-13 young/ litter. Young may use caudal-luring to catch prey. For behavior of a closely-related sp., See Atheris squamiger.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known, but venom is likely hemotoxic. Not considered lethal to humans. Bites of humans rare, & no serious human envenomations or deaths reported. No known antivenom currently produced.

 


Atheris rungweensis

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris nitschei rungweensis

Common Names: Rungwe tree viper, Rungwe bush viper, green-&-yellow bush viper

Description

Medium-sized arboreal adder, adults usually 40-70 cm long (max. 73+ cm). Body usually light to bright green above, w/ irregular black patterns (maybe zig-zags) due to black-tipped, keeled dorsal scales (w/ 23-33 midbody rows). Belly lighter, usually greenish-yellow, young usually solid brownish w/ bright yellow tail tip.

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Habitat

Found mainly 2-4 m above ground in reeds, grass & bamboo of upland papyrus & phragmites swamps, riverine elephant grass, bamboo, & montane forest up to 2,800 m elevation. May also occur in suitable habitats in northwestern Mozambique, but no specimens confirmed from there, so far.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly nocturnal (but often basks in sun) & mainly arboreal (but often hunts on the ground at night). Less excitable than many other bush vipers, but can be aggressive when disturbed. Prey mainly on available frogs, less often on small mammals, &/or lizards. Ovoviviparous, w/ probably 5-13 young/ litter. Young may practice "caudal luring" of prey.

Venom Characteristics

Not much studied, but probably mainly hemotoxic. Bites of humans rare, no serious human envenomations or fatalities reported, so far. Not considered lethal to humans, but no specific antivenom currently produced.

 


Atheris squamigera

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris anisolepis, A. burtoni, A. laeviceps, A. lucani, A. polylepis, A. proximus, A. squamiger, A. s. anisolepis, A. s. squamigera, A. s. robustus, Echis squamigera, Poecilostolus burtonii, Toxicoa squamigera

Common Names: African bush viper, Rough-scaled bush viper, Leaf Viper, Rankschuppige Buschviper

Description

Adults usually 40-60 cm long (max. 80 cm). Body color varies from dusky pale green to olive, to olive brown, or reddish brown. Belly pale yellow; sometimes pale green, & often thickly spotted w/ black. Some specimens w/ pale yellow crossbands. Scales keeled & their tips usually projecting away from the body, giving the snake a "rough," rasp-like appearance.

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Habitat

Mainly found in rain forests, open woodland bordering forests, & swamps. Often persist in hedge rows & other bushes long after deforestation. Found in several central African countries, typically in habitats like those along the river Gabon.

Activity and Behavior

Arboreal, often climb to heights of 6 m (20 ft.) or more. Usually nocturnal; may bask in sun during the day. Commonly forage for small rodent prey at ground level. Females usually bear litters of 5-8 live young, each about 6 inches long.

Venom Characteristics

Venom not well studied, but likely hemotoxic. Bites rare, but at least one human fatality reported. No specific antivenom currently produced, but good paraspecific neutralization has been reported.

 


Atheris subocularis

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atheris squamigera (in part), Atheris squamigera laeviceps

Common Names: Bush viper, leaf viper

Description

A medium-sized "rough-scaled" bush viper w/ varied colors & patterns. Similar to A. squamiger, but usually more yellowish w/ pale reddish markings & pale yellow belly.

Habitat

Typically found in forest margins or open woods edges in sub-tropical & tropical areas in equatorial Africa. Only reported from Republic of Congo, but very likely also occurs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo & in Gabon.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly arboreal and mainly nocturnal, but basks in sun. See Atheris squamiger.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known, but probably mainly hemotoxic.

 


Atractaspis aterrima

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names: Atractaspis bibroni, A. rostrata

Common Names: Mole viper, Erdviper

Description

Medium-sized, slender, fast-moving, burrowing asp, adults usually 30-50 cm long (max. about 70 cm). Body black, blackish-gray or blackish-brown, cylindrical, w/ small dark eyes, set well forward on head. Tail short, ends abruptly in a little spine, 19-21 (rarely 23) midbody dorsal scale rows, scales smooth.

Habitat

Found in very wide variety of habitats; dry savannah, moist savannah, & forests; from Senegal & the Gambia east to Zaire & Uganda (a disjunct population reported from Tanzania).

Activity and Behavior

Fossorial (burrowing, live mainly underground), mainly nocturnal, may be active above ground after a rain. If disturbed, it will usually try to get away, but if cornered, may form a curious croquet hoop-shaped loop w/ head against the ground. May wind its body into coils & lash & jerk back-&-forth, may release a distinctive-smelling chemical from its cloaca which is highly repellent to other snakes. Eat other available lizards, other snakes, & rodents. Oviparous but a typical clutch size is not known. 

Venom Characteristics

In 1995, in Northeastern Zaire (Democratic Rep. of the Congo), a healthy 200 lb., 40 year old man was bitten on one thumb by a large specimen of this species when he picked it up.  He had severe and wide-spread pain for a week, local necrosis (within hours) and extensive swelling at the bite site, and eventually had to have the distal thumb segment amputated.  He had persistent difficulty breathing, nerve impairment affecting his heart, nearly whole-body capillary damage (w/ extensive black-and-blue discoloration), and was hospitalized for a month.  The attending physician recommended immediate and aggressive debridement of the bite wound because the serious local toxic effects began very soon after the bite occurred.  The venoms of this species and related species are potentially lethal.  There is currently no known antivenom available that will neutralize the venom of this species.  

 


Atractaspis bibronii

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names: Atractaspis bibroni, A. bibronii bibronii, A. b. katangae, A. b. rostrata, A. coarti, A. irregularis var. bibronii, A. katangae, A. rostrata,

Common Names: Bibron's burrowing asp, Southern burrowing asp, Mole viper

Description

Medium-sized, slow-moving, rather thick snake (big adults often quite stout), w/ 21-23 midbody scale rows, average 30-50 cm. long (max. 70 cm). Body cylindrical w/ smooth, shiny scales, neck not obviously narrowed, tail very short & ends abruptly in a small spine. Body may be brown, purplish-brown, grey or blackish, scales usually have a purplish sheen. Belly brownish, white or pale w/ dark blotches. Pale color may go up 2-3 scale rows on sides & onto upper labials.

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Habitat

Usually found burrowing in loose soil or organic debris in semi-desert, savannah & woodlands. Widely distributed in subtropical southeastern Africa, from Namibia east to northern half of South Africa, north to southeastern Zaire, eastern Tanzania & coastal Kenya, just reaching the southern end of the Somali coastline. There are isolated records of collections from adjacent countries to the north & south of its main range.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly nocturnal, burrowing, & may move about above ground at night. Bites are most often due to rural persons stepping on, or a sleeping person rolling onto, one of these snakes at night. Snake handlers are bitten fairly often by these because they have a very thick, strong neck, very smooth scales & are hard to hold firmly. This species is responsible for a large number of bites to humans, mainly in rural areas at night.

Venom Characteristics

Pure venom is straw-yellow & very viscous. Highly toxic, but usually injected in very small amounts. Apparently related to mammalian endothelins & functions as a dramatic cardiotoxin. No known currently available antivenom is effective against the venom of any of the mole vipers which belong to this genus.

 


Atractaspis boulengeri

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names: Atractaspis boulengeri boulengeri, A. b. matschiensis, A. b. mixta, A. b. schmidti, A. b. schultzei, A. b. vanderborghti, A. matschiensis

Common Names: Central African burrowing asp, Mole viper

Description

Medium-sized, fairly thick-bodied (large adults often very stout), adults avg. 30-50 cm long (max. 60 cm), scales smooth, in 19-25 midbody dorsal rows. Body may be brown, gray or black above; belly lighter (often white). For description of a closely-related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Habitat

Mainly found in forests of the western Zaire River basin & parts of northern Zaire. Records from savannah clearings of the lower Zaire River are poorly documented. For more detail about typical local habitats of a closely related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known. Probably mostly fossorial & nocturnal & active above ground after rains. Probably oviparous and probably eat available lizards, other snakes, and ssmall mammals. For information about a related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known, probably mainly cardiotoxic. See Atractaspis bibronii. No effective antivenom currently available. Bites & envenomations of humans not well documented, may be misidentified for similar species in same region. No documented human fatalities, so far.

 


Atractaspis congica

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names: Atractaspis congica congica, A. c. leleupi, A. c. orientalis

Common Names: Eastern Congo burrowing asp

Description

Medium-sized, stocky, adults avg. 30-45 cm (max. about 55 cm), dorsal scales smooth, in 19-23 dorsal midbody rows. Body usually uniform purple-brown to black. Belly lighter, may be whitish. For generalized description of a closely related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Habitat

Found mainly in forests & moist savannahs from the mouth of the Zaire River & northeastern Namibia south & east to Angola & northern Zambia. Also, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known. Probably mainly fossorial, nocturnal (active after rains), & generally slow moving. Probably oviparous (w/ <10 eggs/ clutch), & probably eat avaialble lizards, other snakes, & small mammals. For information about a closely-related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known, but probably contains mainly cardiotoxic factor(s). Bites & envenomation of humans not well documented, no confirmed human fatalities due to bites from this species. For information about a related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis corpulenta

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names: Astractaspis corpulenta corpulenta, A. c. kivuensis, A. c. leucura, A. leucura, A. corpulentus, Brachycranion corpulentum

Common Names: The Fat burrowing asp, Mole viper

Description

Medium-sized, stocky snake, w/ smooth dorsal scales, in 23-29 midbody rows. Body dark brown, slatey-gray or black. Belly lighter, nearly white. Occasional specimens from its western African range (Ivory Coast, Ghana) may have a white tail tip. Gray individuals may have a bluish sheen to their scales. For information on a closely-related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Habitat

Found mainly in forested areas from Liberia east to Ghana, reappears along the Dahomey gap in Nigeria, east to northeastern Zaire. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known. Probably mainly fossorial (burrowing), active above ground after rains, generally slow-moving but can strike quickly (sideways & backward) if disturbed or stepped on. Probably oviparous w/ few eggs/ clutch; & probably eats availaable lizards, other snakes, & small mammals. For behavior of a closely-related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

The few reported envenomations by this species have involved only pain, local swelling, fever, & lymphadenopathy. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis dahomeyensis

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Dahomey burrowing viper, mole viper

Description

Juveniles are very thin, but big adults can be very stout. Average 29-35 middorsal scale rows. Dark brown, grey, pinkish-grey, or black in color, paler below. One albino specimen recorded from Ghana. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

Habitat

Found in savannahs from southwestern Camaroon west and north through Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, northwestern Ivory Coast, southwestern Burkina Faso, & south-central Mali. Also recorded from western Mali & northern Guinea, & one record from a forest in Ivory Coast. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known, but probably mainly fossorial, active above ground after rains, & mainly nocturnal. Probably oviparous (w/ small No. of eggs) & eats available lizards, other snakes, & small mammals. See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

In a series of envenomations in Nigeria, victims had pain at the bite site, developed local swelling which reached its maximum within 24 hrs., & usually resolved within 5 days. Some victims had swollen, tender lymph nodes & mild fever, but no necrosis was noted. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis duerdeni

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Duerden's burrowing asp, Beaked burrowing asp

Description

Similar to A. bibronii, but smaller, w/ a short, deep, rounded head w/ a distinct snout. Adults avg. 30-45 cm. long (max. about 55 cm). Dorsal scales smooth, in 21-25 (usully 23) midbody rows. Body usually black, greyish-black, or grey above; w/ white, cream or pinkish below, & the paler color extending up onto the lower scale rows on the flanks & lips. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

Habitat

Found mainly in dry savannah & grassland, in two distinct populations on opposite sides of the Kalahari desert, one in north-central Namibia, the other in southeastern Botswana & the western transvaal. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known. Probably mainly fossorial (burrowing) & nocturnal. Usually slow moving but may strike quickly (sideways & downward) if disturbed or stepped on. Probably oviparous w/ few eggs/ clutch; probably eats available lizards, other snakes & small mammals. Active mostly during the southern summer (October to April). Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known. No human fatalities reported to have been caused by this species, so far. For information about a similar species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis engdahli

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Engdahl's burrowing viper, mole viper

Description

Small burrowing asp w/ smooth dorsal scales in 19 midbody rows, Adults avg. 25-40 cm. long (max. 45 cm.). Body brownish, paler below; juveniles may be very light brown w/ nearly white belly. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

Habitat

Found from the coastal woodland & grassland of southern Somalia & the lower Juba valley north & west into the dry savannah & semi-desert of northeastern Kenya. Reported from termite nests, in holes, in a dry well, & prowling along the ground in semi-desert at night. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known, but probably nocturnal & fossorial, burrowing in loose soil & litter, & active on top of ground after rains. All species in this genus are slow moving but quickly strike to one side & backward if disturbed or physically restrained. Probably oviparous w/ <10 eggs/ clutch, & eat available lizards, other snakes & small animals. For a closely related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

Note much known. Bites & envenomations of humans not well documented, but may pose serious health risk in some cases. For information about a closely-related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis irregularis

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names: Atractaspis irregularis angeli, A. i. bipostocularis, A. i. conradsi, A. i. irregularis, A. i. parkeri, A. i. uelensis, A. bipostocularis, A. caudalis, A. conradsi, Elaps irregularis

Common Names: Variable burrowing asp, mole viper

Description

Medium-sized, stout-bodied, burrowing asp, adults avg. 30-50 cm long (max. about 65 cm), w/ smooth dorsal scales in 23-27 (rarely 21) midbody rows. Body usually black or blackish-gray, belly often lighter. For more generalized characters of this group, based on a closely-related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Habitat

Mainly found in forests, forest edges, high grasslands, & savannaahs (but not arid areas) across most equatorial zone of western & central Africa. For typical local habitats occupied by a closely related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Activity and Behavior

Not well known, but mainly nocturnal & fossorial. Routinely burrows in loose, sandy soil or under surface debris. Active on top of ground after rains. Probably oviparous w/ <10 eggs/ clutch; & eats available lizards, other snakes & other small animals. Known to eat rodents. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

Not much known, but probably has cardiotoxic factor(s). Envenomation symptoms similar to those for other burrowing asps. At least 2 human fatalities documented due to a bites by this species, but each of those was under unusual circumstances. Also See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis leucomelas

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Ogaden burrowing asp, Mole viper

Description

Small burrowing asp, adults avg. 20-30 cm. long (max. 50 cm.) w/ smooth dorsal scales in 23 midbody rows. Distinctly marked w/ a white or grey head w/ irregular dark grey patches on top. A fine yellow-white vertebral stripe runs most of the length of the body, & is bordered on each flank by a broad black lengthwise band. The belly & the 4 rows of scales at the lower edge of the flanks are white. Some specimens w/ a black band under their throat.

Habitat

Found mainly in dry grassland & semi-desert of eastern Ethiopia, northwestern Somalia & Djibouti. Little else is known about this species' habitat. For some general local types of habitats probably typical of this genus, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known, but probably mainly nocturnal & burrowing (fossorial), like related species. Probably slow moving but could strike quickly to one side & backwards if disturbed or restrained (or stepped on). Probably oviparous w/ small clutch of eggs, & probably eats available lizards & other small animals (including other snakes). See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

Nothing specific is known for this species. Probably has cardiotoxic factors & envenomation would probably cause symptoms similar to those caused by venoms of other related species. For general information on a closely related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis microlepidota

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names: Atractaspis microlepidota andersonii, A. m. magrettii, A. m. microlepidota, A. andersonii, A. magrettii, A. micropholis, A. phillipsi

Common Names: Small-scaled burrowing asp, mole viper, jilbris, "the snake of 7 steps", "father of 10 minutes"

Description

One of biggest burrowing asps, adults avg. 30-80 cm long (max. 1.1 m), big individuals remarkably stout. Dorsal scales smooth & in 25-37 midbody rows. Body shiny black, purplish-black, deep grey, or very dark brown body (rarely w/ white tail tip), may be irridescent gray below w/ very short, broad head.

Click for Image [1]

Habitat

Found mainly in semi-desert & dry savannahs of the sahel; from Senegal & Mauritania to Chad, southern & northeastern Sudan, & low elevation regions of Ethiopia, Somalia, & Kenya. Not yet reported from Tanzania but very near. Also known from southwestern Arabian penninsula & Sinai. Reportedly fairly common in parts of its range (esp. in eastern Africa).

Activity and Behavior

Nocturnal & fossorial (burrowing), but not well known. Relatively fast moving at night & active on top of ground after rains. Strikes quickly, to one side & backwards, if disturbed, restrained or stepped on. Oviparous w/ 8 eggs laid by a captured female. Eats available lizards, other snakes, & other small animals.

Venom Characteristics

Not very well known, has cardiotoxic factor(s) & causes symptoms similar to those caused by venom of related species; local pain, swelling, nausea, vomiting, & diarrhoea. Venom glands very long, extend 8-12 cm into the snake's neck, bite reported to usually yield rather low volume of venom. Many serious envenomations of humans; at least 3 human fatalities documented. For a similar species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis reticulata

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names: Atractaspis heterochilus, A. reticulata brieni, A. r. heterochilus, A. r. reticulata

Common Names: Reticulate burrowing asp, mole viper

Description

Large burrowing asp, moderately-thick body, w/ smooth dorsal scales in 21-23 (rarely 19) midbody rows; adults avg. 60-90 cm long (max. 114 cm). Body usually brown or grey w/ most dorsal scales pale-edged, giving it a reticulated (net-like) appearance. For other general characters of a closely related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Habitat

Found mainly in forests of central Africa, from southern Cameroon to eastern Zaire, south to northern Angola, w/ isolated records from Ghana & Nigeria. For additional details of typical local habitats of a related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Activity and Behavior

Probably mainly nocturnal & fossorial (burrowing), but very little known for this species. Probably oviparous w/ small clutch size (fewer than 10 eggs) & probably eats available lizards, other snakes & other small animals. For some general behavioral information on a related species, which is likely to be applicable to this species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

No data available, but probably similar to other species in this genus. For generalized information, See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis scorteccii

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Somali burrowing asp, Mole viper

Description

Large, stout burrowing asp w/ smooth dorsal scales in 23-25 midbody rows, adults avg. 50-75 cm. long (max. 85). Body usually black or dark brown, w/ a broad white ring around its neck, & the top of its head black; lips, chin & throat black, often w/ a dark patch behind & slightly below each eye. Belly white, mottled w/ dark brown, & outer edges of belly scales dark.

Habitat

Known from only a handfull of specimens from sandy & stony country in dry grasslands & semi-desert of eastern Ethiopia & northern Somalia.

Activity and Behavior

Not much known. Probably mainly nocturnal & burrowing. Probably oviparous w/ clutch of <10 eggs; probaably eats available lizards, other snakes, & other small animals. For behavior typical of most of the known closely-related species, See Atractaspis bibronii.

Venom Characteristics

Very little known, but probably has cardiotoxic factors, like related species. Because of its large size, it might pose a health risk for persons who encounter it. For probably applicable generalized information, See Atractaspis bibronii.

 


Atractaspis spp.

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Identification

Family: Atractaspididae

Scientific Names: Currently 15 named species. See individual species data (12 spp. listed separately).

Common Names: Burrowing asps, mole vipers, burrowing vipers, stiletto snakes, side-stabbing snakes

Description

Adults usually less than 90 cm long; fairly slender snakes. Body color varies; usually uniform dark purplish brown to black above, lighter below. Short, conical head, w/ large dorsal scales, & not distinct from the neck; snout broad, flattened, often pointed. Fangs well developed, movable, & attached at front of upper jaw. Cylindrical bodies w/ a short abrupt tail ending in a small spine.

Habitat

Mostly live underground, in holes, burrows, under stones, or in soft or sandy soil. Found in forests, woodlands, semi-deserts, & savannahs. Mainly limited to subtropical & tropical Africa, plus a few Middle Eastern countries.

Activity and Behavior

Most species emerge from burrows or soil only at night, particularly after a rain. Likely to bite as soon as they are touched. Typically not aggressive unless disturbed. Cannot strike forward, but tend to strike backward & sideward toward a threatening animal or prey.

Venom Characteristics

Venom primarily cardiotoxic. Victims may experience intense local pain, swelling, and, in some instances, necrosis.

 


Atrax robustus

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Identification

Family: Hexathelidae

Scientific Names: Atrax spp. [ Note: There are 3 currently named species in this genus, but only this one is of significant human health concern.]

Common Names: Sydney Funnel-Web Spider, Australian Funnel-Web Spider, Australian black trapdoor spider

Description

A large Mygalomorph spider w/ mature females reaching 4 cm body length. Makes a funnel-shaped web. Usually black all over, w/ obvious "hairy" appearance except for the smooth, shiny black top surface of the adult's cephalothorax.

Click for Image [1]

Habitat

These spiders typically build a tubular or funnel-shaped web in which they hide until some prey organism (e.g., insect, lizard or frog) happens by. These webs are usually constructed along the edges of paths, debris, or logs or structures' foundations. This species is found mainly in the eastern, & northeastern parts of Australia (Queensland, New South Wales, & possibly into northeastern Victoria).

Activity and Behavior

These spiders typically build a tubular or funnel-shaped web in which they hide in waiting to ambush their typical prey of insects, other arthropods, small lizards or frogs. This species is very aggressive & will readily run toward & bite humans or other large animals if encountered or disturbed. They sometimes hunt actively at night & occasionally enter homes.

Venom Characteristics

Very strong, usually rapid-acting neurotoxin, which has killed adult humans within relatively short times after the usually very painful bite. Antivenoms developed against A. robustus have been shown to be effective against envenomation by other closely-related species.

Atrax spp.

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Identification

Family: Hexathelidae

Scientific Names: Note: There are currently 3 recognized named species in this genus, but only one species (A. robustus) poses a significant health threat to humans.

Common Names: Australian funnel web spiders, Sydney funnel web spiders, Australian (black) trapdoor spiders

Description

"See A. robustus".

Habitat

"See A. robustus".

Activity and Behavior

"See A. robustus".

Venom Characteristics

"See A. robustus".

Atropoides mexicanus

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atropos mexicanus, Atropoides nummifer (in part), A. n. mexicana, Bothriechis nummifera (in part), B. n. var. notata, Bothriopsis affinis, B. mammifera, B. mexicanus, Bothrops mexicanus, B. nummifera, B. nummifer nummifer, Lachesis nummifer, Porthidium nummifer mexicanum, Teleuraspis nummifer, Thanatophis nummifer, Thanatos nummifer, Trigonocephalus nummifer, Trimeresurus nummifer, T. n. nummifer

Common Names: Central American jumping pitviper, mano de piedro, timbo, chehpat, jumping tommygoff, patoca, toboba, toboba chinga, brazo de piedra, chinchintor, dormilon, dormilona, mococh, otooy, tamaga, tamagas, timbo, xalpate, tunco, bajequilla, bolpach, mano de metate, cabeza de sapo, saltadora, sok nok, najak tzajin, nauyaca, pawangu tsany, ochcan

Description

Exceedingly stout, terrestrial pitviper, adults usually 50-70 cm long (max. 90+ cm). Body gray-brown to dark brown (rarely - background color yellow, cream, pale gray, or even reddish), w/ darker brown rhomboidal blotches along dorsal midline, sometimes form a zigzag pattern. Dark postocular stripe, 23-27 midbody dorsal scale rows; high, tubercular-keeled dorsal scales. Belly may be immaculate to heavily blotched w/ brown. Moveable front fangs relatively short.

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Habitat

Found mainly in mesic forest, including tropical rainforest, moist, & wet forest; & lower cloud forest; sometimes in pine savannas & rocky outcroppings (includes corozo, coffee, pine & cloud forest life areas). Found at 40-1,600 m elevation from southeastern Mexico to central Panama.

Activity and Behavior

Terrestrial, mainly nocturnal, but sometimes basks in sun. Typically slow-moving & not aggressive by day. Can only strike for about 1/2 of its body length (despite its common names). This species often holds onto prey after striking (often very tenaceously). When threatened, often holds mouth very wide open as a defensive display.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly hemotoxic, w/ possible cytotoxic factors. Venom reportedly not as potent as that of other pitvipers in the same areas (e.g., Bothrops asper). Main envenomation symptoms usually local pain & swelling. Although a number of human envenomations by this species occur each year, human fatalities reported to have been due to this species, or closely-related species, have not been well documented.

 


Atropoides nummifer

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atropos nummifer, Atropoides numifer mexicanus, A. n. nummifer, A. n. occiduus, Bothriechis nummifer notata, Bothrops nummifer, B. n. affinis, B. n. occiduus, Porthidium nummifer, P. n. mexicanum, P. n. occiduum

Common Names: Jumping pit viper

Description

A stocky, terrestrial pit viper varying from grey to brown or beige, patterned with angulated blotches which meet along the middle of tis back. The head is not patterned except for a dark line angled back and downward from each eye. Adults average 18-24 inches, but may reach 30 inches in length.

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Habitat

Found in rain forests, forested hills, and adjacent cleared areas or plantations in Mexico and Central America.

Activity and Behavior

Nocturnal, but sometimes bask in the sun. Usually hide in or under old logs, plies of leaves or debris and hunt in those places for their typical prey of small mammals, lizards or frogs. They may strike at intruders with such force that they throw their whole body off the ground. When very frightened, they sometimes will flail about trying to strike wildly and quickly, turning to keep the threat in sight. Usually a female will bear 5-6 live young per litter.

Venom Characteristics

Mainly hemotoxic.

Atropoides occiduus

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Atropoides nummifer (in part), Bothriechis nummifera (in part), Bothriopsis affinis (in part), Bothrops affinis, Bothrops nummifer nummifer, B. n. occiduus, Porthidium nummifer occiduum, Trimeresurus nummifer (in part), T. n. nummifer (in part)

Common Names: Guatemalan jumping pitviper, mano de piedra, cantil sapo, chinchintor, sulcuat

Description

Small to medium-sized, very stout-bodied, terrestrial pitviper, adults usually 35-60 cm long (max. 79.5 cm). Body usually pale brown to burgandy-brown (rarely pinkish or purplish) w/ dark brown rhomboidal dorsal blotches, usually joined at vertebral line forming a zigzag pattern (at least on posterior half). Wide, dark brown postocular stripe. Middorsal scales strongly keeled, 21-27 midbody dorsal scale rows, belly usually lighter, often w/ dark spots or blotches, especially along sides.

Habitat

Mainly found in subtropical wet forest along the Pacific versant from southeastern Chiapas, Mexico to western El Salvador; but also in seasonally dry pine-oak forest near Guatemala City. Found mainly at medium to higher elevations (1,000-1,600 m).

Activity and Behavior

Terrestrial, mainly nocturnal, but sometimes basks in sun. Sluggish, non-aggressive during the day. Can only strike for about 1/2 its body length (does not actually "jump" or launch itself). May open mouth very wide in a defensive display (usually while coiled) if molested. Sometimes holds onto prey after striking it. Ovoviviparous, preys mainly on small mammals, birds (sometimes also lizards & frogs).

Venom Characteristics

Not well known, but probably mainly hemotoxic (w/ possible cytotoxic factors). Reportedly similar to A. mexicanus in having relatively less potent venom than other pitvipers found in the same areas (e.g., B. asper). Has envenomated humans, but only recently named, and may have been confused w/ similar species previously. No definitely documented human fatalities have been caused by this species so far.

 


Atropoides olmec

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Bothrops olmec, Porthidium olmec

Common Names: Olmecan pit viper

Description

Adult length usually 0.5 to 0.8 meters; an extremely stout-bodied snake. Background color usually reddish, reddish-gray, or orangish-tan dorsally, shading to pink or pinkish-gray laterally; the back usually has a series of rhomboid to diamond-shaped dark blotches which meet along its back.

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Habitat

Most common in wetter forested areas at elevations of 500 to 1,500 meters. Found in Mexico (southern Veracruz, Sierra de los Tuxtlas).

Activity and Behavior

Reportedly shy, tending to lower and hide the head upon initial contact. Can strike with such force that its whole body is launched off the ground. Additional biologic and behavioral details are similar to those of "A. nummifer".

Venom Characteristics

Primarily hemotoxic. No known antivenom produced.

 


Atropoides picadoi

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names: Bothrops picadoi, Porthidium picadoi, Trimeresurus nummifer picadoi

Common Names: Picado's pit viper

Description

Size and coloration very similar to "A. nummifer".

Click for Image [1]

Habitat

See Atropoides nummifer

Activity and Behavior

See Atropoides nummifer

Venom Characteristics

Hemotoxic.

 


Austrelaps labialis

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Alecto labialis, Austrelaps superbus (in part), Denisonia superba [Some suthorities consider this to be a junior synonym of A. superbus.]

Common Names: Pygmy Copperhead

Description

Small, cylindrical, smooth-scaled Elapid, adults seldonm more than about 80 cm long. Body medium to dark brown above, lighter brown to grayish-brown belly, usually 17 midbody dorsal scale rows, head somewhat pointed. Looks very similar to A. superbus, but quite a bit smaller.

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Habitat

Found in marshes, grasslands, & fairly open woodlands; most often found near water; limited to South Australia.

Activity and Behavior

Mainly terrestrial, mainly diurnal butalso active after dark in warmer months. Behavior & activity very similar to A. superbus. Ovoviviparous, litter size not reported. Preys mainly on frogs, lizards & small mammals.

Venom Characteristics

Not well studied, but probably mainly neurotoxic. Reports of human envenomations (and even some deaths) are not well documented, but the toxicity of venom of related species implies these could be a serious health risk to humans.

 


Austrelaps ramsayi

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Austrelaps superbus, Denisonia superba, Hoplocephalus brankysi, H. bransbyi, H. ramsayi [This species is considered by some authorities to be a subspecies or a junior synonym of A. superbus.]

Common Names: Highlands copperhead, Ramsay's copperhead

Description

Medium-sized cylindrical, smooth-scaled Elapid, adults usually about 100 cm long. Body usually dark grayish-brown above, lighter below. Head somewhat pointed. Similar in general physical appearance to A. superbus.

Click for Image [1]

Habitat

Found in marshes, woodlands, & grasslands; usually at higher elevations in southern & southeastern Australia (limited to New South Wales & Victoria).

Activity and Behavior

Mainly terrestrial & diurnal, but sometimes active after dusk. Bask in the sun, usually found near water & seem to be semi-aquatic in marshy habitats. Ovoviviparous, 3-32 young per litter. Usually not aggressive unless disturbed, but will defend themselves after only limited provocation, & may pose a health threat due to their highly toxic venom. Very similar in overall behavior to A. superbus.

Venom Characteristics

Not well known, but mainly neurotoxic, w/ possibly some cytotoxic or myotoxic factors, too. Bites & serious envenomations have been reported, but reports of human fatalities not well documented.

Austrelaps spp.

[ TOC ]

Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names:

Description

Habitat

Activity and Behavior

Venom Characteristics

Austrelaps superbus

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Identification

Family: Elapidae

Scientific Names: Alecto schmidti, Hoplocephalus superbus, Notechis superbus

Common Names: Lowlands Copperhead, Copperhead snake

Description

Medium to large-sized Elapid snake, adults usually 1.0-1.4 m long (max. about 1.7 m). Body cylindrical, dorsal scales smooth; body usually dark brownish above w/ lighter copper-colored sides & lowest lateral scale row yellowish); belly much paler yellowish-brown to grayish-brown. Head slightly pointed, chin usually very pale (often whitish). Can flatten its neck & front part of body (hood-like) as a threat if disturbed.

Click for Image [1]

Habitat

Found only in marshes, woodlands & grasslands in cool, temperate areas. Limited to southeastern Australia (New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria) & Tasmania.

Activity and Behavior

Diurnal & nocturnal, basks in the sun, often found near water; mainly terrestrial, but apparently semi-aquatic in marshy habitats. Usually not aggressive unless cornered or molested, then defends itself aggressively. Ovoviviparous, 9-45 young per litter. Preys mainly on frogs & toads, lizards, small mammals & sometimes birds.

Venom Characteristics

Not well studied, but probably mostly neurotoxic (like other Elapids), & may also have cytotoxic or myotoxic factors, too.

Azemiops feae

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Identification

Family: Viperidae

Scientific Names:

Common Names: Fea’s Viper, Fea-Viper

Description

Maximum length about 1.0 m; moderately slender snake. Very primative true viper that looks more like a Colubrid snake. Background color bluish black or black, patterned w/ a few widely-spaced, thin red-orange lateral bands that sometimes meet middorsally; 17 midbody dorsal scale rows, dorsal scales smooth. Belly gray. Head pale red-orange, patterned w/ two darker stripes, & somewhat flattened.

Click for Image [1] [2]

Habitat

Found in mountainous areas from 600-2,000 m elevation. Reported distribution includes northern Burma, southeastern Tibet, China (Jiangxi & Sichuan provinces), & northern Tonkin.

Activity and Behavior

Terrestrial, very rare, oviparous, probably usually prey on small mammals. Occur only at rather high elevations. Little is known about their biology.

Venom Characteristics

Little information available. Probably hemotoxic. Few bites reported. Reported symptoms include local pain and swelling only. No known antivenom produced.