Hairy Bush Viper. Atheris hispida (3)

photo: Bree Mc

Habitat: Central Africa
Status: No Conservation Concerns

This seriously scaly fellow is the Hairy Bush Viper (Atheris hispida)! You can probably assume where it gets its name from. It’s extremely “shaggy” scales give it a rather prickly (and hairy) appearance. It uses those scales to aid it in climbing reeds and stalks, where it likes to bask in the flowers and leaves at the tops of the plants. Males get to be around 73 cm and females about 58 cm.

This snake is extremely poisonous, though the extent of the effects of its venom remain relatively unstudied. The snake is rarely encountered by humans so few bites have been reported (thankfully). It is known that the venom contains a neurotoxin as well as cytotoxins and fasciculins < no idea, but it sounds bad. Of the few reports compiled on bites, it was documented that the unfortunate bitees experienced severe hemorrhaging of their  internal organs. Lovely!

So moral of the story is: Extra hair = extra scare. Stay away from this Hairy Bush Viper (if you ever happen to encounter it) at all costs!

Aaaand on that note, here’s a guy who works with these vicious vipers: