Nature has some very interesting-looking animals. Usually, it’s the birds that are brightly colored and pretty to look at, but there is one snake that definitely stands out from the rest. The spiny bush viper resembles a wingless, mythical dragon more than it does a snake. Still, there is no denying that they have an incredible appearance.
These snakes are native to central Africa. Their scientific name is Atheris hispida, and according to ThoughtCo, their name is derived from the two Greek words that mean “hairy” and “tailed.” Their bodies, which can grow up to 29 inches in length, are covered in pointy scales.
These snakes belong to the Reptilia class, and despite their measurements, are considered to be relatively small snakes! And while these dragon lookalikes can’t breathe fire, they can definitely inject venom, which makes them just as dangerous. There isn’t much information on their venom, but it is a neurotoxin.
According to News Medical, a bite from one of these vipers would severely damage the brain or peripheral nervous system. The iNaturalist further elaborated in terms of fatality, stating that the toxicity from these individuals is all down to species and subspecies’ varying factors – including their geographical location. It further noted that if bitten, a snake bite from a viper could cause death due to severe internal organ hemorrhaging.
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The vipers are nocturnal animals so they will be most active at night, climbing reeds and stalks while they hunt their prey. But they will also lay in wait inside flower beds or leaf beds. They mostly live in isolated populations that are scattered across the rainforests, woodlands, and swamps of Central and East Africa.
The vipers have a prehensile tail, meaning that they can easily hang onto branches in an upside-down manner if they want. This maneuverability allows them the ability to ambush their prey.
Most often, these snakes will hide in an S-shape amongst foliage in order to spring an ambush on their prey, which consists of animals such as small mammals, birds, lizards, or frogs.
For everything that is known about these snakes, there is still so much that is not known. It’s still not clear how much the can weigh or what their lifespans are.
All this lack of information is hindered by both their remote locations and the fact that they’re nocturnal.
What is known is that these vipers will often mate during the rainy season. Typically, the female will then give birth to 9-12 offspring within six to seven months afterward. The young are dark green and have wavy stripes. These will disappear within a few months as they begin to acquire their adult colors.
While we’d love to know more about these beautiful snakes, perhaps it’s a good thing we don’t get too close – no one wants to get bitten.
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