Available now
Mark O'Shea's new softback edition
Venomous Snakes of the World.

Also his Dangerous Snakes of Papua New Guinea stamp issue
and all his other books on the new 'O'Shea's Herp Shop'


Available now
new edition
DK Handbook to Reptiles and Amphibians.

Visit the
'O'Shea's Herp Shop'



Bitis gabonica

One of the largest vipers in the world acheiving 1.2-1.5m in length and the width of a python, these 'Persian-carpet' patterned snakes literally disappear into the leaf-litter, even their huge heads resembling large leaves with midveins. Gaboon vipers also possess the longest fangs of any snake at 25mm. Prey consists of large rats and other mammals which are struck from ambush positions in the leaf-litter.

The East African gaboon viper can be distinguished from the West African gaboon viper (Bitis rhinoceros) by the presence of a vertical black bar under the eye and the low horns on its snout (longer in the W.African species). This is the only fully protected snake species in South Africa.


Central, east & southern Africa (Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo Brazzaville & Congo Kinshasa, Central African Republic,Uganda, northern Angola and Zambia) with isolated populations in Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and S.Africa.

click on the images to enlarge them

Habitat: Savanna & savanna-woodland


A rescued gaboon viper about to be released in the St Lucia Reserve in Natal, S.Africa
Characteristics of an East African gaboon viper include a vertical dark bar under the eye and low snout horns Gaboon vipers can become invisible in leaf-litter



previous species next zone


Other Zones