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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Check Out These Ssseriously Cool Puff Adder Facts

Puff adder facts about this fascinating snake.

Puff adders, (family genus bitis) or Bitis arietans, is the most venomous snake found in north to south Africa. The most preferred habitats of a puff adder are the grasslands and savannas of South Africa.  Semi-arid locations across north to south Africa are also suitable locations for the puff adder. Puff adders are not fast moving snakes, but they can strike at a speed of 0.25 seconds if threatened. Their body is covered in light brown, black and grey markings with a distinctive chevron pattern. This pattern helps puff adders camouflage themselves. The body of this viper is stout and they have a triangular head. These snakes are ambush predators and a single bite of this snake can cause the immediate death of any bird, mammal or amphibian because of the venom.

Some of the most known species of these snakes are American puff adder, African puff adder, and hognose puff adder. Puff adders are commonly found vipers throughout the African continent, and their bite is responsible for many human fatalities in Africa.

After reading these puff adder snake facts, you may also look at green anaconda facts and western diamondback rattlesnake facts.

Puff Adder Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a puff adder?

The puff adder (Bitis arietans) is a venomous viper found throughout sub-saharan Africa except in deserts, rainforests and tropical or alpine climates. Their diet consists of small mammals, amphibians and birds. Large lizards can also be hunted down with their enormous fangs, which penetrate deep into the skin and release venom in the body.

What class of animal does a puff adder belong to?

Puff adder is a viper that belongs to the class of reptilia. These snakes breed only once a year and the average litter produced by the female viper is 20 to 40 eggs (via ovoviviparous reproduction) after the gestation period of seven to nine months. Though the yield of venom is less in these vipers when compared to the other species, the puff adder is responsible for most human fatalities in Africa.

How many puff adders are there in the world?

According to the IUCN Red List 2018, the population status of puff adders is stable and there are more than average puff adders living in the African continent. The exact number of puff adders living in the wild is currently unknown. The puff adder has a heavy and stout body and its maximum length is 49 in (125 cm).

Where does a puff adder live?

Vast populations of puff adders are mainly found in the woods, savanna and grasslands of Africa. These South African snakes do not prefer a desert or rainforest. These snakes hunt down all other animals which can be penetrated with their venom. Puff adder snakes can also kill human beings with only a single strike.

What is a puff adder's habitat?

Puff adders (Bitis arietans) can live in semi-arid conditions and are widespread in the entire African continent. Puff adders are ectothermic in nature which means they cannot generate their own body heat. These snakes rely on natural sunlight and warm climates to raise their body temperature. They are nocturnal and to become fully active, these snakes need to reach a warm body temperature.

Who do puff adders live with?

Puff adders are solitary vipers that hunt during the night or evening. These snakes prey on all other mammals and amphibians. Their bite is very venomous and results in the instant death of the prey. These animals are mostly terrestrial but can also climb a tree with ease.

How long does a puff adder live?

The average lifespan of a puff adder (Bitis arietans) is 15 years in the wild. Some large specimens of the puff adder have been recorded to live for 20 years. Their excellent sense of smell and preying tactics makes them a wild and dangerous predator. These snakes cannot survive in tropical areas.

How do they reproduce?

The mating season in South African puff adders occurs from October to December. Puff adders engage in mating once in a span of 12 months. The are ovoviviparous in nature. The male and the female vipers’ mate and a gestation period of seven to nine months occurs. The female puff adder is known to give birth to live young vipers. The average litter size of the puff adder is 20 to 40. The eggs are produced but are incubated inside the female puff adder. These eggs, after reaching maturity, hatch inside the female viper and then the juvenile puff adder is delivered.

What is their conservation status?

The population of the venomous puff adder is currently under the category of Not Extinct as reported by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. They can be found largely in the African continent. They are not listed as protected species but their conservation status is currently not known.

Puff Adder Fun Facts

What do puff adders look like?

The viper’s head and body are covered in light brown, black and grey markings in a chevron pattern. These snakes  belong to the class of scaled reptiles. The head has a strong build and is triangular in shape. There are two to six dark cross bands on their tail which range in color from black to light. Some of the snakes have numerous black and brown markings, which obscure other dark colors on the skin. These snakes are sexually dimorphic which means that the body of a male puff adder is larger than females. Puff adder eyes have two oblique bands of dark color that run along the length of the eyes. Two dark bands on their head render them a menacing appearance.

Puff adder venom is capable of causing severe damage to the victim.

How cute are they?

Puff adders are not at all cute snakes. They are dangerous and venomous snakes belonging to the family of vipers. African puff adder fangs are large and are attached to their flexible jaws which penetrate deep into the skin of their prey and envenomate them quickly. Puff adder snakes are well-known in the African region for their length and propensity to attack human beings.

How do they communicate?

Puff adders are also sometimes referred to as African adders. If these venomous vipers sense any danger or are threatened, they emit a hissing sound and inflate their body to appear larger in size. Adders use their sense of smell for mating during the breeding season. These snakes are ambush predators and are known for their exceptional camouflaging techniques.

How big is a puff adder?

The average body length of a puff adder is 40 in (101 cm) and their body weight is an average of 13.2 lb (5.9 kg). Few specimens of the puff adder have been recorded to have a body length of 75 in (190 cm), and body weight of more than 14 lb (6.3 kg). Specimens collected from Saudi Arabia are comparatively smaller than the ones found in Africa.

How fast can a puff adder move?

These snakes are not fast movers but they can strike at a speed of 0.25 seconds if threatened. However, they cannot escape fast moving predators like a cheetah or a fox.  

How much does a puff adder weigh?

The average weight of a puff adder is 13.2 lb (5.9 kg). They have large, stout bodies and a patterned outer skin which sheds. Their fangs are pointed, sharp and attached to their movable jaw. Few puff adders are also recorded to have a body weight of more than 14 lb (6.3 kg). The male puff adders have a heavier body weight when compared to the female vipers.  

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no particular male and female names for the puff adder species. They are commonly called adders, or African adders, as they are found mostly in Africa.

What would you call a baby puff adder?

A baby puff adder is called a snakelet, neonate, or hatchling snake. These names are commonly used for the juveniles of all snake species. The most common used name for a puff adder baby is young puff adder.

What do they eat?

Puff adders are ambush predators and feed on prey like small mammals, amphibians, lizards and birds by injecting their venom through a bite in the prey’s body. Puff adders camouflage themselves and use this technique to give the slip to their predators. They strike at a speed of 0.25 seconds and a single bite can kill their prey instantaneously.

Are they poisonous?

Puff adders belong to the family of vipers which makes them venomous. Puff adder poison is used to kill their prey by injecting them with their fangs or stinger. Their puff adder bites are extremely dangerous for humans and other animals, necessitating immediate medical care.

Would they make a good pet?

No, puff adders won't make a good pet. None of the British adders would make good pets as they are not supple like normal snakes, and are vipers that jerk and feed poorly when held in captivity. Adders belong in the wild where they can hunt their prey by envenomating them. Also, it is illegal to keep a puff adder as a pet and is punishable under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act.

Did you know...

Female puff adders give birth to live young vipers. The color of puff adders can vary according to their habitat. When the puff adder is disturbed or provoked, it will hiss loudly and coil its long body into an S shape, which is usually a warning sign. Puff adders are good climbers and swimmers.

Can you die from a puff adder bite?

A puff adder viper is a venomous snake that poses a great threat to human beings. The rate of fatality after an attack is rare, but poor health conditions and the development of secondary infections can cause the death of the victim. The bite can be treated using a dose of anti-venom. The puff adder venom is cytotoxic in nature and causes immediate cell destruction called necrosis. The most common symptom experienced after a single bite of puff adder is swelling. The occurrence of large blisters and discoloration surrounding the area of the bite occurs.

Why is it called a puff adder?

Puff adders are called so because they hiss like a serpent or adder when approached by predators. When they sense danger, as a reaction they puff or inflate their body to appear larger in size.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including burmese python, or hognose snake.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our puff adder coloring pages.

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