Colloquial/Common Names: Horingadder (Afrikaans).

Taxonomy: Class: Reptilia; Order: Squamata; Suborder: Serpentes (Ophidia); Family: Viperidae; Subfamily: Viperinae.

Identification: A short, squat little adder with a prominent pair of raised horns above each eye. Colouration often matches the ground colour of its habitat, ranging from reddish-brown to grey and having a series of dark angular blotches along its back and flanks.

Size: Adults average 300-600mm.

Distribution: Northern and Western Cape, western half of the Eastern Cape, Limpopo Province (just reaching the northern Kruger National Park) and Magaliesberg Mountain range in Gauteng and North West Provinces.

Habitat: Succulent Karoo, Nama-Karoo, Savanna and Desert Biomes where they have a preference for sandy soils in rocky areas.

Activity & Behaviour: Nocturnal and diurnal, terrestrial. Fond of basking and in sandy areas may bury themselves partially into the sand.

Diet & Feeding: Lizards and small rodents.

Reproduction: Females give birth from 4-27 live young.

Danger to humans: These snakes have a mild cytotoxic venom causing pain, swelling and localised tissue necrosis. They should be treated with respect, as symptoms could be more severe.

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

References and Recommended Further Reading:

  • Alexander, G. & Marais, J. 2007. A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers.
  • Bates, M. F., Branch, W. R., Bauer, A. M., Burger, M., Marais, J., Alexander, G. J., & de Villiers, M. S. (eds). 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
  • Branch, W. R. 1998. Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers.
  • Broadley, D. G. 1990. FitzSimons’ Snakes of Southern Africa. Jonathan Ball and Ad. Donker Publishers.

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