Puff Adder - Bitis arietans

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Average Length: 90 cm Names in other languages
Afrikaans: Pofadder

Venom Type: Cytotoxic


First Aid

Immobilise and reassure victim, who must lie down and be kept as quiet as possible. Apply pressure bandage immediately, see First-aid procedure; immobilise limb with a splint to reduce spread of venom. Loosen, but do not remove bandage if there is severe swelling. Take victim to hospital as soon as possible.



Distribution


Habits

A slow-moving, bad-tempered and excitable snake that may hiss or puff when disturbed. When annoyed, it strikes vigorously in all directions and has the capability of a lightning-fast sideways strike without withdrawing the head. Fortunately it often gives warning of its intentions by hissing noisily. It relies on its perfect camouflage to escape detection and will rather freeze than move off. Moves in caterpillar fashion leaving straight deep track in the sand.

Puff adders make splendid rat-traps.  A veld-rat was observed scurrying along a grass track; within seconds there was a thud, followed by anguished squeaks which soon ended. On investigation, it was noticed that the ratís tail was protruding from the mouth of the puff adder, which had cunningly parked on the rodent track to snap up the ones that never look where they are going. The snake deposited the rat and inspected it, possibly wondering if the speedy catch was palatable. A second puff-adder appeared on the path and seized the rear-end of the rat and started swallowing, much to the chagrin of the first puff adder which quickly grabbed the ratís head and commenced gulping towards its competitor. As internasal distance narrowed and neither snake was prepared to yield, their respective snouts soon met at mid-body. Number one gave an enormous gulp, encompassing most of his opponentís head. An intense struggle followed but gradually the challenger was painfully persuaded to follow the rat down a very different path.

Food

Rats, mice, small mammals, ground birds.

Reproduction

Viviparous. Bears 20-40 young in summer, 150-20mm long.

Enemies

Man, honey badgers, warthogs, birds-of-prey and other snakes.

Habitat

Common throughout most of southern Africa except for mountain tops, true desert and dense forests.

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