The butterfly viper is known as the “rhinoceros viper” but that name can cause confusion with its close relative, also known as the “rhinoceros viper”, (Bitis rhinoceros).
The butterfly viper is also known as the rhinoceros viper, river jack, rhinoceros horned viper, and horned puff adder.
Historically, this species was most commonly referred to as the rhinoceros viper, but this introduced confusion after the reclassification of the closely related species, Bitis rhinoceros, also known as the rhinoceros viper. The rhinoceros viper was historically recognized as a subspecies of the Gaboon viper, with the scientific name of Bitis gabonica rhinoceros, until 1999 when genetic differences were discovered. The subspecies was found to be as genetically different from the Gaboon viper as it was from the butterfly viper and thus the rhinoceros viper was designated a separate species and given the scientific name Bitis rhinoceros. The common name butterfly viper is therefore more distinct and preferred for Bitis nasicornis to avoid confusion.