Puff Adder Facts
Latin Name: Bitis arietans
Length: Up to 1 m.
Lifespan: Average 13 years.
Distribution: Found throughout Africa except for desert regions and mountaintops.
Food: Rats, mice, other small mammals, birds, frogs, toads and other snakes.
Puff Adders are viviparous (give birth to live young), giving birth to 16 – 40 young, which are born in the late summer. The young are highly venomous upon hatching and are capable of inflicting a serious bite.
The Puff Adder holds the record for giving birth to the most amount young by any snake, 156!
Their venom is Cytotoxic and highly dangerous. Once the venom enters the body, the body sends plasma (white blood cells) to the site of the bite to try and dilute the venom. With the venom being so potent, excess amounts of plasma sent cause the body tissues to swell up to the degree where the veins are compressed tightly up against the skin, resulting in loss of blood circulation. The area that swells up will often turns to a blackish-blue color with there being a lack of blood.
If not treated promptly, often amputations may necessary after about 4 hours.
The Puff Adder is responsible for most of the serious snakebite incidents in Africa as it is the most common widespread venomous snake on the continent and often does not move when approached resulting in many people being bitten.
It is a rather sluggish moving snake but can strike very rapidly. From a coiled position too striking and then returning back to a coiled position takes just 0,24 of a second!
When approached they will often hiss and puff, hence the name “Puff Adder”.