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Gaboon Viper

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Is the Gaboon Viper right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Gaboon Viper; Butterfly Adder; Forest Puff Adder; Swampjack; Gaboon Adder; Babon Viper

Scientific name: Bitis gabonica

The basics:
The very impressive and highly-venomous Gaboon Viper has long been a popular zoo animal. Armed with 2-inch-long fangs (the snake-world’s longest) and huge stores of venom, it should never be considered for private collections.

The Gaboon Viper ranges over much of tropical central and east Africa, from Nigeria to southern Sudan and south thorough Angola to northern South Africa, where it frequents rainforests and associated lightly-wooded habitats.

Appearance / health:
The background color is a complex pattern of various shades of brown, beige, yellow, cream, black and purple. The broad head is flat and resembles a dead leaf. The Gaboon Viper may attain 7 feet in length and weigh in excess of 22 pounds.

Zoo specimens have reached age 20+, but are considered prone to stress-related disorders.

Behavior / temperament:
Gaboon Vipers are inactive and appear “sluggish”, yet strike with amazing speed. Their bulk renders handling with snake hooks especially difficult and dangerous.

Housing:
Venomous snake species are not suitable as pets in private collections. It is impossible for a private snake owner to adequately prepare for or treat a venomous snakebite, or, prior to a bite, to arrange for treatment in a hospital.

Diet:
Gaboon Vipers are ambush predators, and take prey as large as genets and small antelopes. Zoo animals are fed rats and mice.

Breeding:
The young, 15-60 in number, are born alive after a gestation period of approximately 170 days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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