Snakes > Berg Adder

Berg Adder / Bergadder

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Bitis atropos

Size Adults reach an average length of 40 cm (max. 60 cm).

Description A thick bodied snake with the head distinct from the body, but more elongated than other adders. The colouration is generally dark grey with a series of darker grey or dark brown half circles (flat side facing down) down the upper sides. Below this is a series of square to X-shaped dark grey or brown blotches. Both series of blotches are outlined with a thin white border. The top of the head normally has a spearhead-shaped darker marking, also outlined in white. The overall pattern effectively disrupts the snake's shape.

Biology This snake is strongly associated with mountains and generally occurs at higher altitudes, but does also occur at low altitudes in the case where mountains arise from the low altitude such as on the Cape coast. It preys on rodents, lizards and amphibians. It is viviparous and gives birth to 4 to 15 young. It is a somewhat nervous snake and hisses profusely when approached and will usually retreat into thick cover immediately if approached. It is quite agile for an adder and can move quite quickly. If pursued or cornered, it will strike rapidly at an aggressor. Few people are bitten by this snake, but due to its good camouflage and relatively small size, it is sometimes not seen and stood or sat on resulting in severe injuries to the snake and sometimes a consequent bite to the offender. The venom causes a number of different symptoms including cytotoxic and neurotoxic effects. Envenomation by this species should be taken seriously and the patient should be hospitalized for appropriate symptomatic treatment.

Distribution Mountains of the Western Cape, Mpumalanga and the Chimanimani Mountains of eastern Zimbabwe.

Distribution in GCBC It probably occurs along the higher altitudes of the Cederberg mountains.

Conservation Status Not listed.

Threats None other than illegal collecting for the pet trade. This species does not normally settle well in captivity and often dies as a result.

Current studies None.

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