Spiny Bush Viper Facts
- The small but deadly Spiny Bush Viper has managed to surprise herpetologists. This species of snake has proven to be far more toxic than researchers previously thought.
- It generally inhabits regions far from humans. As a result, this animal has not been well studied. In addition, it appears to be rather reclusive even within its endemic habitat.
- While the heavily keeled scales remain a consistent trait for the species, colors vary greatly between individuals. Hence, many people mistake individuals for members of entirely different species. Fortunately for humans, encounters with the snake are rare. Envenomings even more so.
- Within its native environment, it displays impressive hunting abilities. It hunts as ambush predators and does so most effectively.
- The Spiny Bush Viper is a beautiful snake and is much more deadly than scientists originally believed. Click To Tweet
For comparison, here is a Green Bush Viper – Check out the lack of spiny scales on the head Image Source Photographer: Sipa
Spiny Bush Viper Physical Description
In addition to a small size, the Spiny Bush Viper displays a moderate degree of sexual dimorphism. Males attain an average length of approximately 29 in (73 cm), while females only average 23 in (58 cm). Furthermore, the males have a much more slender shape than the females.
The head has a short snout (more so in males than females). The species also has relatively large eyes. The coloring varies significantly between individuals and typically includes shades of blue, green, and brown. This often leads people to mistake individual snakes for members of differing species.
Yet the highly distinctive scales remain its most noteworthy feature. These develop heavily keeled and quite elongated, giving the species a shaggy or bristly appearance.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Squamata
- Family: Viperidae
- Genus: Atheris
- Species: A. hispida
Spiny Bush Viper Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Spiny Bush Viper remains endemic to specific portions of Central Africa. This includes portions of Uganda, Kenya, and Congo. The species typically inhabits regions of rainforest, since these contain large numbers of flowering bushes. Most of these regions remain far from human habitation, making encounters rare.
Its patterns remain primarily nocturnal, and its habits reflect this. This snake hunts as an ambush predator and likes to perch on reeds and small bushes. It will also use its highly prehensile tails to hang from tree limbs, waiting to strike at prey. Its prey primarily consists of birds, rodents, lizards, and frogs, the majority of which become active at night.
Females give birth between March and April, often to up to 12 young at a time.
Scientists still know little about its venom, except that it appears to be neurotoxic, and far deadlier than once believed.
Rather interestingly, the toxicity of the venom seems to vary due to many factors. These even include weather conditions and the altitude at which the individual snake lives.