Snakes of Liberia and West Africa
Name: Western Bush Viper, West African Bush Viper; Green Bush Viper
Scientific Name: Atheris
chlorerchis - Atheris
chlorechis is found in
the forests of West Africa from Guinea east to Gabon.
This slender bush viper is relatively large. Adults are often 45-60
cm (18-24 inches). Some specimens may reach 70 cm (28 inches). The
keeled body scales are smaller than other members of the genus
giving it a smoother appearance.
Its tail is long and
strongly prehensile with a yellow tip. Not nearly as variable as
other species, western bush vipers are light green with a pale green
or bluish venter and pale yellowish
Western Bush Viper
paired dorsal spots.
The 6-7 1/2 inch (15-19 cm) babies may be tan or light brown and
change to yellowish green with dark green markings within 24 hours
(Freed, 1986, Spawls & Branch, 1995). Others have reported
neonates being solid yellow with light tan markings down the back
(Morgan, pers. comm.). These babies developed small greenish
blotches at about two months of age but remained predominately
yellow. Yet another keeper had neonates that were dark blue with
This species is primarily arboreal and is often found in low bushes
and shrubs in rainforest at altitudes of up to 560 meters.
Common Name: Puff Adder
Scientific Name: Bitis
A large and stocky adder found
throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. This snake is responsible for
many serious snakebite cases in many areas of its range.
A slow-moving, bad-tempered and
excitable snake that may hiss or puff when disturbed. It
relies on its perfect camouflage and will rather freeze than move
This is a thick, heavily built
snake, reaching a maximum length of 120 cm. Females give live birth
and can have between 20 to 40 young. A Puffadder hunts by ambush,
and is less likely to move out of the way than most other snakes.
It hisses ominously when disturbed,
hence the name "puff" adder. This is one of the
front-fanged snakes. When it strikes, the fangs fold forward and
inject venom into the prey on impact. The venom is cytotoxic and is
usually deeply injected.
Common Name: Gaboon Viper or Gaboon
Scientific Name: Bitis gabonica
The largest African viper, this
snake has a striking coloration and pattern that nevertheless offers
Specimens may exceed 6 feet (2 m)
and 15 pounds (6.8 kg). The fangs of a large adult may exceed two
inches (5 cm) in length.
Common Name: Rhinoceros-horned
Scientific Name: Bitis
A large heavy bodied viper with a
prominent nasal horns that inhabits the forests of equatorial
Africa. Its beautiful color and pattern is as striking as that of
any snake, but in its environment the color and pattern are
disruptive and render these vipers essentially invisible on the
Common Name: Common or Rhombic
Scientific Name: Causus
name indicates, this is a nocturnal snake, which rests up under logs
and in termitaria during the day. It has poor eyesight and hunts
mainly by smell. Although this snake is poisonous, it's venom is not
very potent and causes mainly pain and swelling. There are no
recorded deaths caused by this snake.
Common Name: Jameson's Mamba
Scientific Name: Dendroaspis
A duller green
mamba found in forests throughout much of equatorial Africa.
Black Mamba Description &
Black mambas are snakes eight to
ten feet in length. They are not actually black but more of an olive
to a gray color. The 'black' part of the name comes from the color
of the inside of the snake's mouth, which is a purple black color.
Their belly color is normally gray or light green. Black mambas
are native to Africa. Black Mambas are noted for their speed and
agility. No doubt, they are one of the fastest snakes; they are not
The largest venomous snake is King
Cobra and the most venomous is a species of Sea Krait. They are
closely related to the more tree-dwelling Green Mamba, which is just
as deadly. Both types of mamas are rear-fanged. Rear-fanged snakes
cannot fold their fangs back like rattlesnakes and others. The fangs
are fixed much like those of a Coral Snake; however, the Black
Mamba's fangs are located in the rear of the mouth not the front.
The fastest land snake in the world is the aggressive black
mamba found in the southern part of tropical Africa. You might have
heard stories about this snake overtaking people on galloping horses
but although these snakes are fast, they aren't that fast. They can
reach top speeds of 10-12 mph (16-19 km/h) in short bursts over
level ground - good luck trying to outrun one of these snakes if you
tick it off!
The black mamba
is much more terrestrial than the other three species of mamba, but
it readily takes to the trees in search of prey and to bask or seek
Despite its name, black mambas
aren't black. They're gray. The name comes from the color of the
inside of their mouth - something all of them will gladly show you
while they threaten you, if provoked.
They can grow up to 14 feet (4.3
meters) long, another reason why this reptile isn't something to
mess with. The snake races along with its head held high and about
one-third of its body off the ground. That can be up to four feet
(1.2 meters) off the ground - about chin level for some people. The
black mamba is the most respected and feared snake in Africa.
They are aggressive snakes that
spring up to strike so when someone gets bitten, it's usually on the
head. Black mambas also go after birds - and they're good at it. One
mamba even had a parrot inside its stomach. After biting their prey,
black mambas leave it to die. The venom is strong enough to kill
prey in a matter of minutes so the snakes don't have to wait long
for their meal.
Before actually attacking when it
feels threatened it will first give a threatening display by lunging
at the attacker with gaping jaws, showing off the black/purple
coloring of the inside of the mouth. If this attempt to ward of the
harasser does not work it will then resort to attempting to bite the
attacker. Multiple bites are inflicted quickly.
The bite of the black mamba is
deadly and will kill a human around 4 hours after receiving the
bite. The venom is neurotoxic and cardiotoxic. If not treated the
symptoms are but not limited to: the tightening of the chest
muscles, blurred vision, mental confusion, and an overall feeling of
great discomfort. Biting and the threat display will only occur if
the snake is not able to escape. An example of this would be a snake
caught in someone's house with the owner trying to remove it with a
broom. Before antivenin was available the bite of a Black Mamba was
A green and
black mamba from the forests of West Africa.
Mambas have scales
on their bodies. The green in the mamba's body is used to help hide
it from its enemies while resting in the trees. The mamba's jaw is
adapted for feeding, with the snake's skin being elastic and it
being able to dislocate. That is why the mamba can swallow prey up
to four times the size of its head.
detected by the use of mamba's tongue, which picks up vibrations.
Vibrations can also be picked up from the
ground through the mamba's body.
rely on abandoned termite mounds and animal holes for shelter.
Other areas include sparse brush and rocky areas.
green mamba travels throughout its life alone.
in spring after the male finds a female from her scent trail.
Copulation can be drawn out to over a couple hours or days. After
copulation the female can lay from 10-15 eggs. The eggs are long and
thin and range 4-6 centimeters in length and 3-3.5 centimeters in
Common Name: Egyptian Cobra
Scientific Name: Naja
Location: North Africa
According to legend, Cleopatra
asked that an asp, an Egyptian cobra, be delivered to her in a
basket of figs. That was the cobra that bit her, causing her death
and according to the Egyptians, her immortality.
This large and heavy bodied species has the widest range of any
.The Egyptian cobra is extremely
dangerous and responsible for many human deaths
The venom of the Egyptian cobra is
neurotoxic, that is it destroys nerve tissue, and it is much
stronger than that of the common cobra. This venom has been used for
many years in medical research because it has an enzyme, lecithinase,
that dissolves cell walls and membranes surrounding viruses.
When injected into its prey, the
venom causes paralysis and death due to respiratory failure, usually
within 15 minutes.
The Egyptian cobra can grow to
eight feet (2.4 meters) long, although the average length is five to
six feet. The head is small and flat with a rounded snout. The body
is moderately stout, tapering gradually to a pointed tail. The
scales are smooth, large and distinct and colors vary from grayish
yellow to brown to almost black.
When threatened, the snake raises the front part of its body and
spreads its neck into a hood. Dark bars are displayed on the throat
and front of the hood, but the back is unmarked. The cobra is almost
always portrayed in this most distinctive pose.
The Egyptian cobra is a fast-moving snake and is thought to be very
intelligent and relatively docile. A nighttime hunter, it forages
mainly for toads, lizards and birds.
Common Name: Forest Cobra
Scientific Name: Naja melanoleuca
A large and
highly adaptable cobra found in various habitats throughout its
Common Name: Black Spitting Cobra
Scientific Name: Naja
Naja nigricollis has an
extreme geographic range within Africa. The morph we maintain and
breed is the black, red bellied with a skin texture of a silky matt
finish similar to that of a Boelen's python. It should be understood
that these snakes rarely spit.
do have the capability of atomizing venom accurately to a distance
of up to 20 feet. Be advised that these snakes for the most part,
exhibit a shy character however will bite unpredictably with grave
tissue destructive with neuro effect and in many cases the bite of
this animal will require amputation of a limb or death
|Black Tree Cobra
Common Name: Black Tree Cobra also
call Hoodless Cobra
Scientific Name: Pseudohaje
No picture available
for the Black Tree Cobra
These two large and
primarily arboreal species are found in the forests of tropical
Africa. They have a reputation for being particularly ill-tempered
and have an extremely toxic venom.
information on how to treat snakes bites visit Snake
Protocol - Protocols which have been written for potential
snakebites to human beings.