Gaboon Viper

Bitis rhinoceros

The Leaves Have Eyes

The gaboon viper's color is a combination of brown and purple arranged in diamonds and stripes along its back which provides camouflage. This pattern gives excellent coverage blending into the leaves, making them very difficult to see on the ground.

About the Species

This snake is an ambush predator. It will hide among the leaves and wait for its prey to pass by.

Gaboon vipers are passive hunters, waiting concealed to strike at whatever small creatures pass within range. The Gaboon viper can control whether, and how much, venom is injected, so the result of a strike can range from no effect to quick death.

Words From the Experts


The Gaboon viper is one of the most distinctive looking snakes in the world. This beautiful animal has the longest fangs of any snake in the world at up to 2 inches long, and also has the highest venom yield of any of the world's snakes.


Did You Know?

The Gaboon viper is one of the world's largest and heaviest vipers. It also has the longest retractable fangs of any venomous snake: up to 2 inches long.



Home range is Central, East and West Africa


Their habitat is found in rainforests and wet, humid areas


Gaboon vipers generally grow to a length of 4 feet. It can reach a weight of 20 pounds.


Diet primarily consists of rodents. Occasionally, larger prey such as mongoose, hares and monkeys.


Main predators are humans. They are killed out of fear.

Natural Defenses

The Gaboon vipers' coloration provides excellent camouflage. Also has the highest yield of venom


The females can have 50-60 young at a time. The young are born live.


Least concern

Life Expectancy

The average lifespan is about 20 years

  • Saving Animals From Extinction
  • Culture Builds Florida
  • Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums