Critter of the Week: Spiny Bush Viper

Credit:

Bree Mc, soulsurvivor08 at flickr.com

CONSERVATION STATUS

 

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM: ANIMALIA

PHYLUM: CHORDATA

CLASS: REPTILIA

ORDER: SQUAMATA

SUBORDER: SERPENTES

FAMILY: VIPERIDAE

GENUS: ATHERIS

SPECIES: A. HISPIDA

BINOMIAL NAME: ATHERIS HISPIDA

 

RANGE

The spiny bush viper is found only in Central Africa’s rainforests where there is a vast amount of flowering bushes. They are often hard to find in the wild as they inhabit places that are far from human interaction. These vipers are of a smaller variety with the males growing a little under 30 inches and the females about 23 inches. They can also be called the hairy bush viper thanks to their distinguishing keeled scales. This term is given to reptiles whose scales have a ridge down the center, giving a rough appearance.

 

 

Spiny bush vipers are often green or brownish in color; there are brightly colored ones, but they are rarely found in the wild. These vipers are excellent climbers and have no problem slithering up reeds and stalks. Spiky bush vipers have a prehensile tail, which means they can use it to hold onto branches or even hang upside down!

 

 

The spiny bush viper is venomous. The amount and strength of the venom differs based on factors such as the viper’s age, geographic region, and even the weather. Not much is known about the venom as the vipers live in such remote areas where people rarely visit. However, the venom does have a neurotoxic effect, causing internal organs to hemorrhage. No antidote exists but general snake bite treatments can alleviate the symptoms.

During the day, the spiny bush viper can be seen basking in the sun on top of flowering bushy plants; this leaves all hunting to be done at night. Their diet is made up of frogs, birds, lizards, and other small mammals. Not only does this viper hunt in the trees, but it will also occasionally feed on mammals on the ground. It uses an ambush predatory technique, curling into an S-shape before lunging at prey and killing them with its venom.

 

 

The mating season for spiny bush vipers is in October. After mating, the female will keep the fertilized eggs inside her body. Once 6-7 months have passed, the female will give birth to 9-12 live babies. The baby vipers are around 6 inches long with a dark green coloration and will attain their adult coloration after 3-4 months.