Snakes > Red Adder

Red Adder / Rooiadder

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Bitis rubida

Size These snakes have an average length of 25 cm, with a maximum length of 40 cm.

Description This snake has a typical adder shape, but is very small with raised scales above the eyes although these scales do not form ‘horns' as in the single- and many-horned adders. It is very variably marked and coloured, but generally displays a pattern of a series of small, vague, square to X-shaped dark brown blotches down each side. The back has a series of irregular, pale edged darker blotches. Sometime these blotches may be quite indistinct, particularly in specimens from the Cederberg. The background colour varies from a greyish brown to an orange brown.

Biology This small adder preys primarily on lizards, with rock agamas (Agama atra) the meal of choice although larger specimens will take small rodents. It is seldom encountered although it has a fairly wide distribution. It gives birth to about 10 babies. No bites to humans from this species have been recorded thus far. Its venom is likely to be similar to that of the many-horned adder. It has a very swift effect on agamas immobilizing them within a minute.

Distribution The Red Adder is strongly associated with Fynbos-covered mountain slopes, particularly those on the warmer and drier mountains of the Western Cape. It occurs from the Cederberg in the west, through the mountains of the Little Karoo to the Swartberg Mountains in the east.

Distribution in GCBC Probably occurs on all the mountains in the Corridor.

Conservation Status Not listed.

Threats None identified.

Current studies The taxonomy of the dwarf adders is still undergoing further investigation by Bill Branch and collaborators. This is a little-known species and more ecological knowledge is required


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