Puff adder

Bitis arietans

The puff adder is a venomous viper species found in savannah and grasslands from Morocco and western Arabia throughout Africa except for the Sahara and rainforest regions. It is responsible for causing the most snakebite fatalities in Africa owing to various factors, such as its wide distribution, frequent occurrence in highly populated regions, and aggressive disposition.
Puffy the Puff Adder A venomous Puff Adder, completely wild and photographed in the wilds of Namibia.  As is common with Adders, the venom from this snake is cyto-toxic, which means the venom literally eats away at flesh and muscles.  

This snake is extremely well camouflaged and one can easily unknowingly step on it if wandering about.  Luckily, normally, it will make a loud hissing sound when detecting vibrations on the ground from approaching hikers.  It is a docile snake, moving slow, but when it comes to striking, it is lightning vast.  

Venomous and Dangerous to man.   Bitis arietans,Geotagged,Namibia,adder,camouflage,dangerous,fear,golden,orange,venomous


The snake's typical size is about 1.0 m in total length and very stout. Large specimens of 190 cm total length, weighing over 6.0 kg and with a girth of 40 cm have been reported. Specimens from Saudi Arabia are not as large, usually no more than 80 cm in total length. Males are usually larger than females and have relatively longer tails.

The color pattern varies geographically. The head has two well-marked dark bands - one on the crown and the other between the eyes. On the sides of the head, two oblique, dark bands or bars run from the eye to the supralabials. Below, the head is yellowish white with scattered dark blotches. Iris color ranges from gold to silver-gray.

Dorsally, the ground color varies from straw yellow, to light brown, to orange or reddish brown. This is overlaid with a pattern of 18–22 backwardly directed, dark brown to black bands that extend down the back and tail. Usually, these bands are roughly chevron-shaped, but may be more U-shaped in some areas. They also form two to six light-and-dark cross-bands on the tail.

Some populations are heavily flecked with brown and black, often obscuring other coloration, giving the animal a dusty-brown or blackish appearance. The belly is yellow or white, with a few scattered dark spots. Newborn young have golden head markings with pinkish to reddish ventral plates toward the lateral edges.
Puff adder  Bitis arietans,Geotagged,Oman,Puff adder


This species is probably the most common and widespread snake in Africa. It is found in most of sub-Saharan Africa south to the Cape of Good Hope, including southern Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, southern Algeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, northern, eastern, and southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. It also occurs on the Arabian Peninsula, where it is found in southwestern Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Puff Adders Copulating I was delighted to finally capture this on camera as the first time I saw this was at home and didn't have my camera so when we were driving along and saw the puffies in the road I was super stoked Bitis arietans,Fall,Geotagged,Namibia,puff adders,puff adders copulating


Normally a sluggish species, the puff adder relies on camouflage for protection. Locomotion is primarily rectilinear, using the broad ventral scales in a caterpillar fashion and aided by its own weight for traction. When agitated, it can resort to a typical serpentine movement of surprising speed.

Although mainly terrestrial, these snakes are good swimmers and can also climb with ease; often they are found basking in low bushes. One specimen was found 4.6 m above the ground in a densely branched tree.

If disturbed, they hiss loudly and continuously, adopting a tightly coiled defensive posture with the forepart of their body held in a taut "S" shape. At the same time, they may attempt to back away from the threat towards cover. They may strike suddenly and fast, to the side as easily as forwards, before returning quickly to the defensive position, ready to strike again. During a strike, the force of the impact is so strong, and the long fangs penetrate so deeply, that prey items are often killed by the physical trauma alone. The fangs apparently can penetrate soft leather.

They can strike to a distance of about one-third of their body length, but juveniles can launch their entire bodies forwards in the process. These snakes rarely grip their victims, but instead release quickly to return to the striking position.
Enjoying the sun So thrilled that our resident puff adder is less nervous of me now and comes to sunbathe in the same spot every morning (weather permitting). At least I know where she/he is and so I am less likely to inadvertently tread too close. This was the case a few days ago. It used to live down a hole at the top of the retaining wall and sometimes rest there. When I couldn't see it I went to step on the lower ledge to look for it and nearly put my foot right on it! Bitis arietans,Common Puff adder,Geotagged,Puff adder,South Africa,Summer,africa,snakes,south africa


It is found in all habitats except true deserts, rainforests, and alpine habitats. It is most often associated with rocky grasslands. It is not found in rainforest areas, such as along the coast of West Africa and in Central Africa ; it is also absent from the Mediterranean coastal region of North Africa. On the Arabian Peninsula, it is found as far north as Ta'if. It has been reported to be found in the Dhofar region of southern Oman.
Puffadder Just when we thought that snakes hibernate in winter we were proven wrong.  This puffadder put in an appearance yesterday and was sunning himself.  We put him in a bag and put him on our neighbours veldt away from our horses and dogs Puffadder,bitis arietans,pofadder


Females produce a pheromone to attract males, which engage in neck-wrestling combat dances. A female in Malindi was followed by seven males. They give birth to large numbers of offspring; litters over 80 have been reported, while 50–60 are not unusual. Newborns are 12.5–17.5 cm in length. Very large specimens, particularly those from East Africa, give birth to the highest numbers of offspring. A Kenyan female in a Czech zoo gave birth to 156 young, the largest litter for any species of snake.
An unwelcome resident! Yes, another Puff Adder...but THIS one has taken up residence in my garden!!!! Bitis arietans,Geotagged,Puff Adder,South Africa,Summer,reptiles,snakes


Mostly nocturnal, they rarely forage actively, preferring, instead, to ambush prey as it happens by. Their prey includes mammals, birds, amphibians, and lizards.
Big fat puffy This puff adder has taken up residence in a hole in the wall on our driveway. It is usually very shy, disappearing very quickly if it spots us. But this morning the birds alerted me and I had time to grab a camera and get this shot. The rest of it is down the hole. Bitis arietans,Geotagged,South Africa,Spring,adders,puff adder,reptiles,snakes,south africa


This species is responsible for more snakebite fatalities than any other African snake, due to a combination of factors, including its wide distribution, common occurrence, large size, potent venom that is produced in large amounts, long fangs, and their habit of basking by footpaths and sitting quietly when approached.

In humans, bites from this species can produce severe local and systemic symptoms. Based on the degree and type of local effect, bites can be divided into two symptomatic categories - those with little or no surface extravasation, and those with hemorrhages evident as ecchymosis, bleeding, and swelling. In both cases, severe pain and tenderness occur, but in the latter, widespread superficial or deep necrosis and compartment syndrome are seen. Serious bites cause limbs to become immovably flexed as a result of significant hemorrhage or coagulation in the affected muscles. Residual induration, however, is rare and usually these areas completely resolve.

Other bite symptoms that may occur in humans include edema, which may become extensive, shock, watery blood oozing from the puncture wounds, nausea and vomiting, subcutaneous bruising, blood blisters that may form rapidly, and painful swelling of the regional lymph nodes. Swelling usually decreases after a few days, except for the area immediately around the bite site. Hypotension, together with weakness, dizziness, and periods of semi- or unconsciousness is also reported.

If not treated carefully, necrosis will spread, causing skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscle to separate from healthy tissue and eventually slough with serous exudate. The slough may be superficial or deep, sometimes down to the bone. Gangrene and secondary infections commonly occur and can result in loss of digits and limbs.

The fatality rate highly depends on the severity of the bites and some other factors. Deaths can be exceptional and probably occur in less than 15% of all untreated cases, although some reports show that severe envenomations have a 52% mortality rate. Most fatalities are associated with poor clinical management and neglect.


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SpeciesB. arietans