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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 to blend 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 and camouflaged 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.


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Central, East and West Africa

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Rainforests, wet and humid areas

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4 feet long | 20 pounds

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Rodents, mongoose, hares, monkeys

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Natural Defenses

Coloration providing camouflage, potentially venomous bites

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Ovoviviparous; 50–60 young per litter

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Least concern

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Life Expectancy

20 years on avg.

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