The Largest Viper, The Gaboon Viper
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The Largest Viper, The Gaboon Viper

The Gaboon Viper is the largest and deadliest of the vipers.

The Gaboon viper, is a large viper that lives in the rainforests and the savannas of Sub-Sahara Africa. These snakes are not only the largest of the vipers, but also the heaviest of them. They also have the largest fangs of any venomous snake, and yield the highest amount of venom of any kind of venomous snakes.

While most vipers are 1 to 2 feet in length when full grown, the Gaboon viper grows to be around 4 to 5 feet long. The largest every recorded was about 6 ½ feet long. Their average weight is around 30 pounds, with exceptionally large specimens weighing around 50 pounds. Like most snakes, their coloration is a blend of dark colors. Brown, dull red, black, and dull yellow are commonly seen and they always form a pattern. The dark colors are used as camouflage against predators and prey. The most unique thing about Gaboon vipers is their large fangs. Their fangs usually are around 2 inches long, making them the longest of any kind of venomous snake. Thankfully, unlike most vipers, the Gaboon viper is quite calm and tolerant. Many snake experts can actually handle this viper without the use of tongs, which nearly every kind of the venomous snake needs to be handled with. However, this certainly does not make them suitable for pets or safe to be around.

Gaboon vipers are extremely dangerous. In small amounts, their venom rarely kills a full grown human. Unfortunately, due to their large fangs they rarely ever inject a small amount of venom when they bite. A normal bite from a Gaboon viper will kill a full grown human with ease. The venom causes rapid swelling and bruising around the bite, followed by necrosis around the bite area. It also causes intense pain, severe shock, uncoordinated movement, swelling of tongue and eyelids, hypotension, internal bleeding, heart attack, coma, and death. If someone is bitten by a Gaboon viper, they need medical help immediately.

Gaboon vipers are carnivores, and are usually ambush hunters. Their most common form of hunting is to hide amongst fallen leaves or dead logs and silently wait for an unsuspecting prey to come by. However, they will actively hunt prey too if needed, tracking them and killing them when the opportunity is right. Gaboon vipers eat small birds such as doves or parrots, rodents as small as mice to as large as hares, other small reptiles, and sometimes even small cats or dogs. While there have been reports of Gaboon vipers hunting small monkeys and brush tailed porcupine, this is unlikely.

While Gaboon vipers have the potential to be deadly, they seldom are. They are such calm laid back snakes they usually only bite if excessively provoked. However, this does not make them suitable for pets and if seen in the wild should be given space and respect.

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Comments (1)

Caution to walk off any marked trail, else risk getting bitten.