Forest

Habitats

Forest

  • 1.1. Boreal
  • 1.2. Subarctic
  • 1.3. Subantarctic
  • 1.4. Temperate
  • 1.5. Subtropical/tropical dry
  • 1.6. Subtropical/tropical moist lowland
  • 1.7. Subtropical/tropical mangrove vegetation above high tide level
  • 1.8. Subtropical/tropical swamp
  • 1.9. Subtropical/tropical moist montane

 

Forest Animals

North America

Continents

North America

 

North American Animals

Savanna

Habitats

Savanna

  • 2.1. Dry
  • 2.2. Moist

 

Savanna Animals

Europe

Continents

Europe

 

European Animals

Asia

Continents

Asia

 

Asian Animals

Shrubland

Habitats

Shrubland

  • 3.1. Subarctic
  • 3.2. Subantarctic
  • 3.3. Boreal
  • 3.4. Temperate
  • 3.5. Subtropical/tropical dry
  • 3.6. Subtropical/tropical moist
  • 3.7. Subtropical/tropical high altitude
  • 3.8. Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation

 

Shrubland Animals

Grassland

Habitats

Grassland

  • 4.1. Tundra
  • 4.2. Subarctic
  • 4.3. Subantarctic
  • 4.4. Temperate
  • 4.5. Subtropical/tropical dry
  • 4.6. Subtropical/tropical seasonally wet/flooded
  • 4.7. Subtropical/tropical high altitude

 

Grassland Animals

South America

Continents

South America

 

South American Animals

Wetlands

Habitats

Wetlands (Inland)

  • 5.1. Permanent rivers/streams/creeks (includes waterfalls)
  • 5.2. Seasonal/intermittent/irregular rivers/streams/creeks
  • 5.3. Shrub dominated wetlands
  • 5.4. Bogs, marshes, swamps, fens, peatlands
  • 5.5. Permanent freshwater lakes (over 8 ha)
  • 5.6. Seasonal/intermittent freshwater lakes (over 8 ha)
  • 5.7. Permanent freshwater marshes/pools (under 8 ha)
  • 5.8. Seasonal/intermittent freshwater marshes/pools (under 8 ha)
  • 5.9. Freshwater springs and oases
  • 5.10. Tundra wetlands (inc. pools and temporary waters from snowmelt)
  • 5.11. Alpine wetlands (inc. temporary waters from snowmelt)
  • 5.12. Geothermal wetlands
  • 5.13. Permanent inland deltas
  • 5.14. Permanent saline, brackish or alkaline lakes
  • 5.15. Seasonal/intermittent saline, brackish or alkaline lakes and flats
  • 5.16. Permanent saline, brackish or alkaline marshes/pools
  • 5.17. Seasonal/intermittent saline, brackish or alkaline marshes/pools
  • 5.18. Karst and other subterranean hydrological systems (inland)

 

Wetland Animals

Africa

Continents

Africa

 

African Animals

Rocky

Habitats

Rocky

  • Inland Cliffs
  • Mountain Peaks

 

Rocky Area Animals

Australia

Continents

Australia

 

Australian Animals

Antarctica

Continents

Antarctica

 

Antarctic Animals

Caves & Subterranean

Habitats

Caves & Subterranean (Non-Aquatic)

  • 7.1. Caves
  • 7.2. Other subterranean habitats

 

Caves & Subterranean Animals

Desert

Habitats

Desert

  • 8.1. Hot
  • 8.2. Temperate
  • 8.3. Cold

 

Desert Animals

Marine Neritic

Habitats

Marine Neritic

  • 9.1. Pelagic
  • 9.2. Subtidal rock and rocky reefs
  • 9.3. Subtidal loose rock/pebble/gravel
  • 9.4. Subtidal sandy
  • 9.5. Subtidal sandy-mud
  • 9.6. Subtidal muddy
  • 9.7. Macroalgal/kelp
  • 9.8. Coral Reef
    • 9.8.1. Outer reef channel
    • 9.8.2. Back slope
    • 9.8.3. Foreslope (outer reef slope)
    • 9.8.4. Lagoon
    • 9.8.5. Inter-reef soft substrate
    • 9.8.6. Inter-reef rubble substrate
  • 9.9 Seagrass (Submerged)
  • 9.10 Estuaries

 

Marine Neritic Animals

Marine Oceanic

Habitats

Marine Oceanic

  • 10.1 Epipelagic (0–200 m)
  • 10.2 Mesopelagic (200–1,000 m)
  • 10.3 Bathypelagic (1,000–4,000 m)
  • 10.4 Abyssopelagic (4,000–6,000 m)

 

Marine Oceanic Animals

Marine Deep Ocean Floor

Habitats

Marine Deep Ocean Floor (Benthic and Demersal)

  • 11.1 Continental Slope/Bathyl Zone (200–4,000 m)
    • 11.1.1 Hard Substrate
    • 11.1.2 Soft Substrate
  • 11.2 Abyssal Plain (4,000–6,000 m)
  • 11.3 Abyssal Mountain/Hills (4,000–6,000 m)
  • 11.4 Hadal/Deep Sea Trench (>6,000 m)
  • 11.5 Seamount
  • 11.6 Deep Sea Vents (Rifts/Seeps)

 

Marine Deep Ocean Floor Animals

Marine Intertidal

Habitats

Marine Intertidal

  • 12.1 Rocky Shoreline
  • 12.2 Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, etc.
  • 12.3 Shingle and/or Pebble Shoreline and/or Beaches
  • 12.4 Mud Shoreline and Intertidal Mud Flats
  • 12.5 Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses)
  • 12.6 Tidepools
  • 12.7 Mangrove Submerged Roots

 

Marine Intertidal Animals

Marine Coastal/Supratidal

Habitats

Marine Coastal/Supratidal

  • 13.1 Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands
  • 13.2 Coastal Caves/Karst
  • 13.3 Coastal Sand Dunes
  • 13.4 Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes
  • 13.5 Coastal Freshwater Lakes

 

Marine Coastal/Supratidal Animals

Artificial Terrestrial

Habitats

Artificial – Terrestrial

  • 14.1 Arable Land
  • 14.2 Pastureland
  • 14.3 Plantations
  • 14.4 Rural Gardens
  • 14.5 Urban Areas
  • 14.6 Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest

 

Artificial Terrestrial Animals

Artificial Aquatic

Habitats

Artificial – Aquatic

  • 15.1 Water Storage Areas [over 8 ha]
  • 15.2 Ponds [below 8 ha]
  • 15.3 Aquaculture Ponds
  • 15.4 Salt Exploitation Sites
  • 15.5 Excavations (open)
  • 15.6 Wastewater Treatment Areas
  • 15.7 Irrigated Land [includes irrigation channels]
  • 15.8 Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Land
  • 15.9 Canals and Drainage Channels, Ditches
  • 15.10 Karst and Other Subterranean Hydrological Systems [human-made]
  • 15.11 Marine Anthropogenic Structures
  • 15.12 Mariculture Cages
  • 15.13 Mari/Brackish-culture Pond

 

Artificial Aquatic
Habitats

Introduced Vegetation

 

Introduced Vegetation Animals

Other

Other

 

Other Habitat Animals

Unknown

Unknown

 

Unknown Habitat Animals

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Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper’s closest relative is the rhinoceros viper (Bitis rhinoceros), which has a duller color pattern, wider head, and lacks the distinct, black arrow mark on the head.

The butterfly viper’s closest relative is the rhinoceros viper (Bitis rhinoceros).

The butterfly viper has a brighter color pattern and a narrower head than the rhinoceros viper. The rhinoceros viper is also missing the distinct, black arrow mark on the butterfly viper’s head, and instead has a single dark stripe running down the back of its head.


Image | © Bernard DUPONT, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Sources | (Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018, 2019)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper is known as the “River Jack” because of its moist habitat preference and often lives near water or in a swampy environment.

The butterfly viper inhabits tropical forests, often near water, or some sort of swampy environment. Because of this habitat preference it is often called the River Jack.


Image | © Frank Wouters, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Sources | (Lipsett, 2003; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper’s scales are so rough and heavily keeled that they can inflict cuts when being handled.

The butterfly viper’s midbody has 31–43 dorsal scale rows. There are 117–140 ventral scales and a single anal scale. There are 12-32 paired subcaudals, enlarged plates on the underside of the tail, with males having a higher count of 25–30 than females with 16–19.

The butterfly viper’s scales are so rough and heavily keeled that they sometimes inflict cuts on handlers when the snakes struggle.


Image | © Jonathan Kolby, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Sources | (Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper has hollow fangs that deliver venom deep into the snake’s victims but are folded into the roof of the mouth when not in use and shed every 6-10 weeks.

The butterfly viper has a pair of hollow fangs in its mouth. These fangs are not large, rarely more than 1.5 centimeteres, or 0.59 inches, long.

These fangs penetrate deep into the snake’s victim, allowing small doses of venom to flow into the wound.

The butterfly viper has the ability to control the movement of its fangs. When not in use, the fangs are folded up into the roof of the snake’s mouth. As such, the butterfly viper may open its mouth without the fangs flipping down into place.

As is true with all snakes in the Viperidae family, the butterfly viper sheds its fangs periodically, every 6-10 weeks.


Image | © Josh More, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sources | (Firehouse, 2003; Lipsett, 2003; Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Rogers, 2000; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Primarily nocturnal, the butterfly viper hides during the day in leaf litter and holes or around fallen trees and tangled roots of forest trees.

Primarily nocturnal, the butterfly viper hides during the day in leaf litter and holes or around fallen trees and tangled roots of forest trees.


Image | © Josh More, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sources | (The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper is viviparous, giving live birth to 6-38 offspring at the start of the rainy season in March and April.

The butterfly viper is a viviparous animal, giving live birth to 6-38 young.

In West Africa, the butterfly gives birth at the start of the rainy season in March and April. In eastern Africa, the breeding season is indefinite.

Young butterfly vipers are approximately 18-25 centimeters, or 7-10 inches, brilliantly colored, and venomous.


Image | © Jonathan Kolby, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Sources | (Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

When approached, butterfly vipers often reveal their presence by hissing, said to be the loudest hiss of any African snake—almost a shriek.

When approached, butterfly vipers often reveal their presence by hissing, said to be the loudest hiss of any African snake—almost a shriek.

Puff adders are known to make extremely loud hissing noises through their noses as part of their respiratory functions. They also puff loudly.


Image | © Internet Archive Book Images, Public Domain
Sources | (ITIS, 2017; Lipsett 2003; Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Although terrestrial, the butterfly viper uses its partially prehensile tail to climb into trees and thickets in search of food and has been found up to 3 m. above ground.

Although mainly terrestrial, the butterfly viper has been known to climb into trees and thickets in search of food. They have been found up to 3 meters, or 9.8 feet, above the ground.

This climbing behavior is aided by a partially prehensile tail. Holding a butterfly viper by the tail is not safe as it can use it to fling itself upwards and strike.


Image | © Terese Hart, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Sources | (Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

Relatively little is known about the toxicity and composition of the butterfly viper’s single hemotoxic and neurotoxic venom, but it’s supposedly less toxic than that of a Gaboon viper.

Like most other venomous snakes, the butterfly viper has a single venom with both neurotoxic, as well as hemotoxic properties, but the hemotoxicity is much more dominant. Relatively little is known about the toxicity and composition of the butterfly viper’s venom.

The venom is supposedly slightly less toxic than those of the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica) and puff adder (Bitis arietans). In mice, the intravenous LD50 is 1.1 milligram per kilogram. In rabbits, the venom is apparently slightly more toxic than that of the Gaboon viper. The maximum wet venom yield is 200 milograms.

One study reported this venom has the highest intramuscular LD50 value—8.6 milligram per kilogram—of five different viperid venoms tested (puff adder, Gaboon viper, butterfly viper, Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii), and asp viper (Vipera aspis). Another showed little variation in the venom potency of these snakes, whether they were milked once every two days or once every three weeks.


Image | © Brian Gratwicke, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Sources | (Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

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.


Image | © Gert Jan Verspui, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC 4.0)
Sources | (Lenk, Herrmann, Joger & Wink, 1999; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018, 2019)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

As an ambush predator, the butterfly viper is a non-aggressive, slow-moving, placid animal and will not bite unless provoked or hungry.

Preferring to hunt by ambush, the butterfly viper spends much of its life motionless, waiting for prey to wander by.

Unless provoked or hungry, the butterfly viper will not bite. It is generally considered a slow-moving, somewhat placid animal, less so than the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica), but not as bad-tempered as the puff adder (Bitis arietans).

A captive specimen was described as hardly ever leaving its hide box, even when hungry. The viper once waited for three days for a live mouse to enter its hide box before striking.


Image | © Ltshears, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Sources | (Firehouse, 2003; Lipsett 2003; Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper can strike with lightning speed, up to half its body length, in any direction.

When the butterfly viper gets excited, it can strike faster than the blink of an eye with extremely deadly accuracy. These snakes can strike in any direction with equal speed and their striking range is surprisingly long, sometimes as long as half the snake’s length. They are capable of striking quickly, forwards or sideways, without coiling first or giving a warning.


Image | © Internet Archive Book Images, Public Domain
Sources | (Lipsett 2003; Rogers, 2000; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

No subspecies of the butterfly viper are currently recognized.

No subspecies of the butterfly viper are currently recognized.


Image | © celestialhoney831, (CC BY-ND 3.0)
Sources | (ITIS, 2017; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper Trivia

Butterfly Viper

Do you think you know the butterfly viper? Test your knowledge of butterfly viper FaunaFacts with this trivia quiz!

Click on an answer choice to receive instant feedback. Red answers are incorrect, but allow you to continue guessing. Green answers are correct and will provide additional explanatory information. Sometimes more than one answer is correct!

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper | Play on Quizizz


What are alternate names for the butterfly viper?
Rhinoceros Viper
The butterfly viper is also known as the “rhinoceros viper”, “river jack”, “rhinoceros horned viper”, “arrowhead viper”, and “horned puff adder”.
Arrowhead Viper
The butterfly viper is also known as the “rhinoceros viper”, “river jack”, “rhinoceros horned viper”, “arrowhead viper”, and “horned puff adder”.
River Jack
The butterfly viper is also known as the “rhinoceros viper”, “river jack”, “rhinoceros horned viper”, “arrowhead viper”, and “horned puff adder”.
Gaboon Viper

What marking does a butterfly viper have on the back of its head?
Arrowhead
The butterfly viper’s head has a large, dark triangular, arrow-shaped marking on the back.
Thin Stripe
Thick Stripe
Several Stripes

What is the butterfly viper’s diet?
Carnivorous
The butterfly viper is carnivorous.
Herbivorous
Omnivorous

What habitat does the butterfly viper inhabit?
Forest
The butterfly viper inhabits forested areas and tropical forests and rarely ventures into woodlands.
Grassland
Shrubland
Savanna

What characteristic originated the butterfly viper’s nickname, “River Jack”?
Swampy Habitat
The butterfly viper inhabits tropical forests, often near water, or some sort of swampy environment. Because of this habitat preference it is often called the River Jack.
Ability to Swim
Aquatic Habitat
Lays it Eggs in Water

The butterfly viper is one of the most dangerous and venomous snakes of its region.
True
It is considered to be one of the most dangerous and venomous snakes of Africa.
False

The butterfly viper has a flattened, narrow, triangular-shaped head that is considerably smaller in size than its body.
True
One of the butterfly viper’s most distinguishing characteristics is its small, flattened, narrow, triangular-shaped head. The head is considerably smaller in size than its body.
False

How does the butterfly viper differ from the rhinoceros viper?
Brighter Colors
The butterfly viper has a brighter color pattern and a narrower head than the rhinoceros viper. The rhinoceros viper is also missing the distinct, black arrow mark on the butterfly viper’s head, and instead has a single dark stripe running down the back of its head.
Narrower Head
The butterfly viper has a brighter color pattern and a narrower head than the rhinoceros viper. The rhinoceros viper is also missing the distinct, black arrow mark on the butterfly viper’s head, and instead has a single dark stripe running down the back of its head.
Black Arrowhead Marking on Head
The butterfly viper has a brighter color pattern and a narrower head than the rhinoceros viper. The rhinoceros viper is also missing the distinct, black arrow mark on the butterfly viper’s head, and instead has a single dark stripe running down the back of its head.
Black Stripe on Back of Head

What is the butterfly viper’s venom properties?
Neurotoxic
Like most other venomous snakes, the butterfly viper has a venom with both neurotoxic, as well as hemotoxic properties.
Hemotoxic
Like most other venomous snakes, the butterfly viper has a venom with both neurotoxic, as well as hemotoxic properties.
Cardiotoxic
Dendrotoxic

To what continent is the butterfly viper endemic?
Africa
The butterfly viper is endemic to Africa.
Australia
South America
Asia

Butterfly vipers display sexual dimorphism in body size.
True, females are larger.
Butterfly vipers display sexual dimorphism as females are usually the larger of the two monomorphic sexes.
True, males are larger.
False

The color patterns of the butterfly viper vary among individuals.
True
The color patterns vary among individuals and the degree of light and dark colors dependent on the snake’s habitat.
False

The butterfly viper is 1 of how many puff adder species?
15
The butterfly viper is categorized in the Bitis genus and is one of the fifteen species of puff adders.
5
25
50

What is the average lifespan of the butterfly viper in captivity?
8.3 Years
The average lifespan of the butterfly viper in captivity is 8.3 years.
3.8 Years
13.8 Years
18.3 Years

Like the Gaboon viper, the butterfly viper uses a considerably large amount of venom.
False
Unlike the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica) who uses a considerably large amount of venom, just small doses of the butterfly viper’s venom can be deadly.
True

The butterfly viper sheds its skin.
True
The butterfly viper sheds its skin.
False

The butterfly viper is an ambush predator, relying on cryptic coloration as camouflage to hide from its prey.
True
The butterfly viper is an ambush predator, relying on cryptic coloration as camouflage to hide from its prey.
False

What kind of scales does a butterfly viper have?
Rough
The butterfly viper’s scales are rough and heavily keeled.
Smooth

The butterfly viper spends much of its life motionless, waiting for prey to wander by.
True
Preferring to hunt by ambush, the butterfly viper spends much of its life motionless, waiting for prey to wander by.
False

Butterfly vipers can swim.
True
Butterfly vipers have been described as powerful swimmers.
False

The butterfly viper is fast in locomotion.
False
Generally, the butterfly viper is considered somewhat slow in locomotion.
True

What parts of the continent does the butterfly viper inhabit?
Central
The butterfly viper is endemic to central and western Africa. In West Africa, they are found from Guinea to Ghana. In central Africa, they inhabit the Central African Republic, southern Sudan, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Uganda, and western Kenya. Reports as far as southern Zaire have also been documented.
West
The butterfly viper is endemic to central and western Africa. In West Africa, they are found from Guinea to Ghana. In central Africa, they inhabit the Central African Republic, southern Sudan, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Uganda, and western Kenya. Reports as far as southern Zaire have also been documented.
North
South

How many antivenoms for butterfly viper venom exist?
1
At least one antivenom protects specifically against bites from this species: India Antiserum Africa Polyvalent.
0
5
3

The butterfly viper is viviparous and gives birth to live young.
True
The butterfly viper is a viviparous animal, giving live birth to 6-38 young.
False

What is the maximum length a butterfly viper can grow?
210 cm. / 83 in.
Adult butterfly vipers have an average total length, from body to tail, of 60-107 centimeters, or 23-42 inches. Maximum total lengths of up to 1.2 meters, or 47.2 inches, are possible, but are an exception. Some butterfly vipers have been reported to reach 2.1 meters, or 7 feet.
60 cm. / 23 in.
100 cm. / 39 in.
120 cm. / 47 in.

Which butterfly vipers are more blue?
Western
Western specimens are more blue, while those from the East are more green.
Eastern

The butterfly viper’s fangs are hollow.
True
The butterfly viper has a pair of hollow fangs in its mouth.
False

How often does the butterfly viper shed its fangs?
A Few Times a Year
As is true with all snakes in the Viperidae family, the butterfly viper sheds its fangs periodically, every 6-10 weeks.
Once a Week
Once a Month
Once a Year

Butterfly vipers are bred domestically and sold online in the exotic pet trade.
True
Butterfly vipers are bred domestically and sold online in the exotic pet trade. Although most people would never see the butterfly viper in the wild, there are many who breed this extremely dangerous animal domestically. A butterfly viper can be purchased online. Listings have been found for baby vipers for $75.00 plus shipping and $125.00 for adult snakes.
False

What is the butterfly viper considered?
Terrestrial
Although mainly terrestrial, the butterfly viper has been known to climb into trees and thickets in search of food. They have been found up to 3 meters, or 9.8 feet, above the ground.
Arboreal
Aquatic
Fossorial

What is the butterfly viper classified on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species?
Not Evaluated
The butterfly viper has not been evaluated by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is thus classified as “Not Evaluated”.
Least Concern
Near Threatened
Data Deficient

The butterfly viper can strike in any direction, without coiling first, with extremely deadly accuracy.
True
When the butterfly viper gets excited, it can strike faster than the blink of an eye with extremely deadly accuracy. These snakes can strike in any direction with equal speed. They are capable of striking quickly, forwards or sideways, without coiling first or giving a warning.
False

What is the butterfly viper’s scientific name?
Bitis nasicornis
The butterfly viper’s scientific name is “Bitis nasicornis”.
Bitis rhinoceros
Bitis gabonica
Bitis arietans

How many venom does the butterfly viper have?
1
Like most other venomous snakes, the butterfly viper has a single venom.
0
2
3

Female butterfly vipers have a higher count of paired subcaudals than males.
False
Males have a higher count of paired subcaudals, having 25-30 compared to the 16-19 on a female.
True.

Relatively little is known about the toxicity and composition of the butterfly viper’s venom.
True
Relatively little is known about the toxicity and composition of the butterfly viper’s venom.
False

How much larger can a butterfly viper enlarge its body when threatened?
2x
When excited, these venomous snakes have the ability to enlarge their size considerably by inflating and deflating their bodies. This creates the “puffed” look that is approximately twice the normal size of the snake’s body.
1.5x
2.5x
3x

What is the dominant property of the butterfly viper’s venom?
Hemotixicity
The hemotoxicity is much more dominant.
Neurotoxicity
Dendrotoxicity
Cardiotoxicity

The butterfly viper’s venom is more toxic than those of the Gaboon viper and puff adder.
False
The venom is supposedly slightly less toxic than those of the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica) and puff adder (Bitis arietans).
True

What characteristics originated the name “puff adder”?
Ability to Enlarge the Body
When excited, these venomous snakes have the ability to enlarge their size considerably by inflating and deflating their bodies. This creates the “puffed” look. Puff adders also make an extremely loud hissing noise through their nose as part of their respiratory function and puff loudly.
Loud Puff Noise
When excited, these venomous snakes have the ability to enlarge their size considerably by inflating and deflating their bodies. This creates the “puffed” look. Puff adders also make an extremely loud hissing noise through their nose as part of their respiratory function and puff loudly.
Swollen-Looking Tongue
Large Head

How does the butterfly viper’s venom affect the body?
Paralyzes
This venom attacks the circulatory system of the snake’s victim, destroying tissue and blood vessels. This causes internal bleeding and massive hemorrhaging. In only a few detailed reports of human envenomation, massive swelling, which may lead to necrosis, had been described. Some bites cause paralysis, some cause swelling, and most of them cause shock, where the blood stops coagulating and people either bleed from the tissues or fluid leaks out of their blood vessels.
Destroys Tissues & Blood Vessels
This venom attacks the circulatory system of the snake’s victim, destroying tissue and blood vessels. This causes internal bleeding and massive hemorrhaging. In only a few detailed reports of human envenomation, massive swelling, which may lead to necrosis, had been described. Some bites cause paralysis, some cause swelling, and most of them cause shock, where the blood stops coagulating and people either bleed from the tissues or fluid leaks out of their blood vessels.
Causes Internal Bleeding
This venom attacks the circulatory system of the snake’s victim, destroying tissue and blood vessels. This causes internal bleeding and massive hemorrhaging. In only a few detailed reports of human envenomation, massive swelling, which may lead to necrosis, had been described. Some bites cause paralysis, some cause swelling, and most of them cause shock, where the blood stops coagulating and people either bleed from the tissues or fluid leaks out of their blood vessels.
Causes Massive Swelling
This venom attacks the circulatory system of the snake’s victim, destroying tissue and blood vessels. This causes internal bleeding and massive hemorrhaging. In only a few detailed reports of human envenomation, massive swelling, which may lead to necrosis, had been described. Some bites cause paralysis, some cause swelling, and most of them cause shock, where the blood stops coagulating and people either bleed from the tissues or fluid leaks out of their blood vessels.

Butterfly vipers have one of the loudest hisses of any snake in their region.
True
When approached, butterfly vipers often reveal their presence by hissing, said to be the loudest hiss of any African snake—almost a shriek.
False

Butterfly vipers can often appear faded and dull due to silt.
True
After they shed their skins, the bright colors fade quickly as silt from their generally moist habitat accumulates on the rough scales.
False

The butterfly viper feeds on larger prey than the Gaboon viper.
False
The butterfly viper generally feeds on smaller prey than the closely related, Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica).
True

What is the main staple of the butterfly viper’s diet?
Small Mammals
Small mammals are the main staple of the butterfly viper’s diet.
Amphibians
Fish
Insects

The butterfly viper’s scales are so rough that they can inflict cuts.
True
The butterfly viper’s scales are so rough and heavily keeled that they sometimes inflict cuts on handlers when the snakes struggle.
False

The butterfly viper is just as bad-tempered as the puff adder.
False
The butterfly viper is not as bad-tempered as the puff adder (Bitis arietans).
True

What kind of habitat does the butterfly viper prefer?
Wet
The butterfly viper often lives near water, or some sort of swampy environment, but can be found in relatively dry forest areas.
Dry

Butterfly vipers sometimes inhabit shallow pools.
True
Butterfly vipers are sometimes found in shallow pools.
False

The butterfly viper is more slow-moving and placid than the Gaboon viper.
False
It is generally considered a slow-moving, somewhat placid animal, less so than the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica).
True

The butterfly viper’s range is less restricted than the Gaboon viper.
False
Its range is more restricted than the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica).
True

How many subspecies of butterfly viper are recognized?
0
No subspecies of the butterfly viper are currently recognized.
1
2
3

In the West, when does the butterfly viper give birth?
March-April
In West Africa, the butterfly gives birth at the start of the rainy season in March and April. In eastern Africa, the breeding season is indefinite.
May-June
July-August
September-October

Butterfly vipers are venomous at birth.
True
Young butterfly vipers are approximately 18-25 centimeters, or 7-10 inches, brilliantly colored, and venomous.
False

Which butterfly vipers are more green?
Eastern
Western specimens are more blue, while those from the East are more green.
Western

What characteristic originated the butterfly viper’s nickname, “rhinoceros viper”?
Horn-Like Nasal Scales
The butterfly viper is also known as the “rhinoceros viper” because of the distinctive set of two or three horn-like scales it has above each nostril at the end of the nose. The front pair of scales may be quite long.
Rough Scales
Hooked Lip
Dull Coloration

How long are the butterfly viper’s fangs?
1.5 cm. / 0.6 in.
The butterfly viper’s fangs are not large, rarely more than 1.5 centimeteres, or 0.59 inches, long.
2 cm. / 0.8 in.
2.5 cm. / 1 in.
3 cm. / 1.2 in.

What is the butterfly viper’s rhythm?
Nocturnal
Primarily nocturnal, the butterfly viper hides during the day in leaf litter and holes or around fallen trees and tangled roots of forest trees.
Diurnal
Crespuscular
Cathemeral

The butterfly viper has the ability to control the movement of its fangs.
True
The butterfly viper has the ability to control the movement of its fangs. When not in use, the fangs are folded up into the roof of the snake’s mouth. As such, the butterfly viper may open its mouth without the fangs flipping down into place.
False

The butterfly viper’s tail is partially prehensile.
True
The butterfly viper’s climbing behavior is aided by a partially prehensile tail. Holding a butterfly viper by the tail is not safe as it can use it to fling itself upwards and strike.
False

How long can a butterfly viper’s strike reach?
1/2 the Body Length
When the butterfly viper gets excited, it can strike faster than the blink of an eye with extremely deadly accuracy. Their striking range is surprisingly long, sometimes as long as half the snake’s length..
1/4 the Body Length
1/3 the Body Length
Full Body Length

The butterfly viper has never been recorded to kill a human.
False
Because of the butterfly viper’s restricted geographic range, few bites have been reported and no statistics are available, but at least one death has occurred. In 2003, a man in Dayton, Ohio, who was keeping a specimen as a pet, was bitten and subsequently died.
True

How much did you know about the butterfly viper? Share your results in the comments!

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

The beautiful color patterns of the butterfly viper varies among individuals as Western specimens are more blue, while those from the East are more green.

The butterfly viper is often considered one of the most beautiful of all snakes because of its incredible coloration. The color pattern of the butterfly viper consists of a series of 15–18 blue or blue-green, oblong markings, each with a lemon-yellow line down the center. These are enclosed within irregular, black, rhombic blotches. A series of dark crimson triangles run down the flanks, narrowly bordered with green or blue. Many of the lateral scales have white tips, giving the snake a velvety appearance. The top of the head is blue or green, overlaid with a distinct black arrow mark. The belly is dull green to dirty white, strongly marbled, and blotched in black and gray.

The color patterns vary among individuals and the degree of light and dark colors dependent on the snake’s habitat. Western specimens are more blue, while those from the East are more green.


Image | © Jonathan Kolby, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Sources | (Lipsett, 2003; Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

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Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper is 1 of 15 puff adder species, named for their characteristic threat display in which they puff up and enlarge their bodies to twice their normal size.

The butterfly viper is categorized in the Bitis genus and is one of the fifteen species of puff adders.

Members of the Bitis genus, including the butterfly viper, are called puff adders because of their characteristic threat display. When excited, these venomous snakes have the ability to enlarge their size considerably by inflating and deflating their bodies. This creates the puffed look that is approximately twice the normal size of the snake’s body.

Puff adders also make an extremely loud hissing noise through their nose as part of their respiratory function and puff loudly.


Image | © Greg Hume, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Sources | (Firehouse, 2003; ITIS, 2017; Lipsett 2003; Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Rogers, 2000; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

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Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper is carnivorous and feeds on smaller prey than the Gaboon viper, such as toads, frogs, fish, and mice.

The butterfly viper is carnivorous and generally feeds on smaller prey than the closely related, Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica).

Small mammals are the main staple of the butterfly viper’s diet, but the snakes are also reported to eat amphibians, such as toads and frogs, and even fish in wetland habitats.

One long-term captive specimen, regularly fed killed mice and frogs, always held on to its prey for several minutes after a strike before swallowing.


Image | © Jonathan Kolby, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Sources | (Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Rogers, 2000; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper is one of the most dangerous and venomous snakes as just small doses of its venom can be deadly, destroying tissue and blood vessels and causing internal bleeding and massive hemorrhaging.

Like all vipers, the butterfly viper is venomous. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous and venomous snakes of Africa. Unlike the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica) who uses a considerably large amount of venom, just small doses of the butterfly viper’s venom can be deadly.

This venom attacks the circulatory system of the snake’s victim, destroying tissue and blood vessels. This causes internal bleeding and massive hemorrhaging.

In only a few detailed reports of human envenomation, massive swelling, which may lead to necrosis, had been described. Some bites cause paralysis, some cause swelling, and most of them cause shock, where the blood stops coagulating and people either bleed from the tissues or fluid leaks out of their blood vessels.


Image | © H. Krisp, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY 3.0)
Sources | (Firehouse, 2003; Lipsett 2003; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

One of the butterfly viper’s most distinguishing characteristics is its small, flattened, narrow, triangular-shaped head with a dark triangular-shaped marking on the back.

One of the butterfly viper’s most distinguishing characteristics is its small, flattened, narrow, triangular-shaped head. The head is considerably smaller in size than its body and has a large, dark triangular, arrow-shaped marking on the back.

The butterfly viper’s neck is thin and its eyes are small and set well forward.


Image | © Brian Gratwicke, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Sources | (Lipsett, 2003; Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

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Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper inhabits forested areas and tropical forests and rarely ventures into woodlands.

The butterfly viper inhabits forested areas and tropical forests and rarely ventures into woodlands. It often lives near water, or some sort of swampy environment, but can be found in relatively dry forest areas.


Image | © Lucie Gaspari, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC 4.0)
Sources | (Lipsett, 2003; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

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Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper is endemic to central and western Africa and has a more restricted range than the Gaboon viper.

The butterfly viper is endemic to central and western Africa. In West Africa, they are found from Guinea to Ghana. In central Africa, they inhabit the Central African Republic, southern Sudan, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Uganda, and western Kenya. Reports as far as southern Zaire have also been documented.

The type locality is listed only as interior parts of Africa.

Its range is more restricted than the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica).


Image | © H. Krisp, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY 3.0)
Sources | (ITIS, 2017; McDiarmid, Campbell, & Touré, 1999; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

Butterfly vipers are large, stout, heavy-bodied snakes that average 60-90 cm. in length, but can reach up to 2.1 m.

The butterfly viper is a large, stout, heavy-bodied snake.

Adult butterfly vipers have an average total length, from body to tail, of 60-107 centimeters, or 23-42 inches. Maximum total lengths of up to 1.2 meters, or 47.2 inches, are possible, but are an exception. Some butterfly vipers have been reported to reach 2.1 meters, or 7 feet.


Image | © Tayler, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC 4.0)
Sources | (Firehouse, 2003; Lipsett, 2003; Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Mehrtens, 1987; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper has not been evaluated by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is thus classified as “Not Evaluated.”

The butterfly viper has not been evaluated by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is thus classified as Not Evaluated. Little information about the snake’s threats and conservation actions are available.


Image | © Brian Gratwicke, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Sources | (Lipsett 2003)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper is an ambush predator, relying on cryptic coloration as camouflage to hide from its prey.

The butterfly viper is often considered one of the most beautiful of all snakes because of its incredible coloration. The color pattern of the butterfly viper consists of a series of 15–18 blue or blue-green, oblong markings, each with a lemon-yellow line down the center. These are enclosed within irregular, black, rhombic blotches. A series of dark crimson triangles run down the flanks, narrowly bordered with green or blue. Many of the lateral scales have white tips, giving the snake a velvety appearance. The top of the head is blue or green, overlaid with a distinct black arrow mark. The belly is dull green to dirty white, strongly marbled, and blotched in black and gray.

The butterfly viper is an ambush predator, relying on cryptic coloration as camouflage to hide from its prey. The vivid coloration of the snake gives it excellent camouflage in the dappled light conditions of the forest floor, making it almost invisible. Thus, its brilliant coloration is an adaptive feature. Darker colors allow the snake to blend well with the jungle floor.


Image | © Jonathan Kolby, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Sources | (Lipsett, 2003; Mallow, Ludwig, & Nilson, 2003; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

The butterfly viper is also known as the “rhinoceros viper” because of the 2-3 horn-like projections it has above each nostril.

The butterfly viper is also known as the rhinoceros viper because of the distinctive set of two or three horn-like scales it has above each nostril at the end of the nose. The front pair of scales may be quite long.


Image | © Josh More, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sources | (Firehouse, 2003; ITIS, 2017; Rogers, 2000; Spawls, Howell, Drewes, & Ashe, 2004; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2018)

Learn More About the Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper

Butterfly Viper (Bitis nasicornis)

FaunaFocus is entering August 2019 and featuring its first snake species, the butterfly viper, also known as the rhinoceros viper!

The butterfly viper, also known as the rhinoceros viper, is a puff adder endemic to central and western Africa. As an ambush predator, this carnivorous snake relies on camouflage as it waits for prey. After striking, it sinks its hollow fangs into its victim and delivers a deadly hemotoxic venom. This species is Not Evaluated on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

 

GET INVOLVED

Create art inspired by the butterfly viper and share it in the FaunaFocus Discord Server or on social media with #faunafocus. Learn about more ways to get involved with FaunaFocus!

 

EVENTS
Event Date Time (CDT)
Charcoal CreateAlong August 16 7:00 pm
Free-For-All: Deadline August 29 12:00 pm
Free-For-All: Livestream August 30 7:00 pm

 


Image | © Gert Jan Verspui, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Weedy Seadragon

Because of its similar appearance, the weedy seadragon is often mistaken for its close relative, the leafy seadragon, but the leafy seadragon is more rare and has more leaf-like appendages.

Because of its similar appearance, the weedy seadragon is often mistaken for its close relative, the leafy seadragon (Phycodurus eques).

The leafy seadragon is found in the same geographic range as the weedy seadragon, but it differs in appearance as it has many more leaf-like appendages. Weedy seadragons are also much more common than leafy seadragons.


Image | © Biodiversity Heritage Library, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY 2.0)
Sources | (Frostic, 2000; Glover, Southcott, & Scott, 1974; MESA, 2015; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2019)

Learn More About the Weedy Seadragon

Weedy Seadragon

Weedy seadragons have become a “flagship” species of the southern Australian coast and are documented in Dragon Search, a database of seadragon sightings that monitors local water quality.

A database of weedy seadragon sightings, as well as other seadragon species, known as Dragon Search has been established with support from the Marine and Coastal Community Network (MCCN), Threatened Species Network (TSN), and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), which encourages divers to report sightings.

Monitoring of populations may provide indications of local water quality. Weedy seadragons could also become an important flagship species for the often-overlooked richness of the unique flora and fauna of Australia’s south coast.


Image | © Anne Petersen, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sources | (Dragon Search, 2000; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2019)

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Weedy Sea Dragon

Over the last 20 years, losses of giant kelp has increased water temperatures and reduced macroalgae, potentially adversely affecting weedy seadragons.

Significant losses of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) have been documented over the past 20 years, associated with increased water temperatures. The reduction in macroalgae could adversely affect seadragons although this has not been demonstrated.


Image | © Images by John ‘K’, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sources | (Edyvane, 2003; Pollom, 2017)

Learn More About the Weedy Seadragon

FFA
Judges
Noelle M. Brooks Eternity AmandaRuthArt
Date July 2019 Theme Weedy Seadragon
Entries 7 Winner Draws With Kitties

The July 2019 FaunaFocus Free-For-All has concluded and we were gifted with 7 amazing entries! Many entries chose to draw inspiration from the theme, the weedy seadragon, and allow their creativity to shine. With digital media and traditional media, each artist added their own flair to this underwater creature.

Congratulations to the winner, Draws With Kitties who entered an abstracted piece of the weedy seadragon. Using watercolor and mixed media, Draws with Kitties took inspiration from DeepDream to create an elusive and ambiguous weedy seadragon immersed within an array of colorful shapes and colors.

Last month’s Free-For-All winner, Shane S. (Yodeldog) has selected August 2019’s FaunaFocus, the butterfly viper!

 


FaunaFocus Calendar | Free-For-All | Free-For-All Archives

Weedy Seadragon

The weedy seadragon was selected as the Australian State of Victoria’s marine faunal emblem in 2002.

The weedy seadragon is the marine emblem of the Australian State of Victoria.

Victoria established a program to select a marine icon species for Victoria. This was an exciting opportunity to engage Victorians in learning about local marine life and to provide an opportunity to participate in the selection of an appropriate emblem for the rich and diverse marine environment. The weedy seadragon was selected as Victoria’s official marine faunal emblem by public nomination and was proclaimed by the Governor in Council on October 31, 2002.


Image | © Anne Petersen, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sources | (MESA, 2015; The State of Victoria, 2011; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2019)

Learn More About the Weedy Seadragon

Weedy Seadragon

The weedy seadragon is exploited for the aquarium trade at low levels that are not likely of conservation concern.

The weedy seadragon is exploited for the aquarium trade at low levels that are not likely of conservation concern. The volume of wild-caught individuals is small and therefore not currently a major threat.


Image | © shemane, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Sources | (Frostic, 2000; Martin-Smith & Vincent, 2006; Pollom, 2017; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2019)

Learn More About the Weedy Seadragon

Weedy Seadragon

Young weedy seadragons are born independent and receive no parental care after they are hatched and released into the external environment.

After the female weedy seadragon deposits the eggs into the male’s brood patch and the male carries the eggs until they hatch, the young receive no parental care because they are released into the external environment.

After hatching, young weedy seadragons spend two or three days in the yolk sac of the egg, where they continue to be nourished. After the young leave the yolk sac, they are independent and begin feeding on copepods and rotifers shortly after.


Image | © VirtualWolf, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Sources | (Dawson, 1985; Forsgren & Lowe, 2006; Frostic, 2000; Morrison & Storrie, 1999; Pollom, 2017; Sanchez-Camara, Booth, & Turon, 2005; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2019)

Learn More About the Weedy Seadragon