puff adder [Bitis arietans]
Common puff adder [B. a arietans]
Somali puff adder [B. a. somalica]
1 100 mm
1 090 mm
The puff adder of South Africa is a large snake with yellow-brown to light brown colour adorned with black pale edged chevrons dorsally and bars on the tail. It has a large triangular head with large vertically pointed nostrils.
They are found throughout South Africa and extend across the continent of Africa and as far as Arabia.
Puff adders are not like most snakes, as they give birth to fully formed young. This process is known as ovovivpary. The female does produce eggs, but these are kept inside her body and incubated internally. This process takes around 300 days, before the eggs hatch internally and the young puff adders are “born” fully formed and independent. The female can produce up to 60 young at a time.
The puff adder feeds mainly on rodents, birds and will also eat other snakes in the bushveld of South Africa.
The puff adder gets its name from blowing air out of its large nostrils that serve as a warning when threatened. These snakes do not back away when approached and are responsible for the highest number of bites and fatalities by any other snake in South Africa.