Tuesday 18 June
Many-horned adder (Bitis cornuta)
Many-horned adder fact file
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Many-horned adder description
This small venomous snake is named for the distinctive tuft of two to seven horn-like scales above each eye (4) (5). The body is usually a greyish to reddish-brown colour above, with three or four longitudinal rows of black squarish blotches down its length, between which there may be a series of contrasting pale patches. The one or two rows of black marks on the back are highly conspicuous, while the row down each side of the body is paler and less well-defined (4) (5). Underparts are white to brownish, either uniformly coloured or spotted with dark brown (5). Females are typically larger than males (2).
- Bitis albanica, Bitis armata.
- Average length: 30 – 40 cm (2)
- Any of the open grassy plains of southern Africa.
UNEP-WCMC (May, 2006)
WhoZoo: Animals of the Fort Worth Zoo (June, 2006)
- Branch, W.R. (1999) Dwarf adders of the Bitis cornuta-inornata complex (Serpentes:Viperidae) in South Africa. Kaupia, 8: 39 - 63.
CapeNature (June, 2006)
Snakes of South Africa (June, 2006)
GLOBALHERP (June, 2006)
- Phelps, T. (2006) Pers. comm.
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Many-horned adder biology
The many-horned adder buries itself in loose sand for camouflage against predators and prey (2), and can often be observed with only the top of its head protruding above the surface (5). It also adopts a side-winding mode of locomotion to help it move on the loose surface of desert sands (2) (5). When threatened, this snake hisses loudly and writhes vigorously, and may strike with such force that its whole body comes completely off the ground (2) (5). These small adders prey primarily on lizards, but will also occasionally take rodents, birds and amphibians (2) (4).Top
Many-horned adder range
Like all Bitis species, the many-horned adder is native to Africa (6), and of the species of the Bitis cornuta – inornata complex, the many-horned adder has the widest distribution (7). This snake is confined to the western coast of the southern tip of Africa, from southern Namibia, south through Namaqualand, to the Saldanha area of South Africa. Although records also exist further south of Saldanha, these require confirmation as there may have been confusion with other adder species (4).Top
Many-horned adder habitat
The many-horned adder is found in mountainous and rocky areas of the Namib Desert and in the mountains south of the desert (2).Top
Many-horned adder status
This species has not yet been classified by the IUCN. The many horned adder belongs to the Bitis cornuta – inornata species complex, an enigmatic group of rare dwarf adders consisting of five species that have only recently been revised (3).Top
Many-horned adder threats
Like many other reptiles of southern Africa, this adder is threatened by habitat destruction (4) as a result of development and/or wild veld fires, and also by illegal collection for the pet trade (7).Top
Many-horned adder conservation
There are currently no known conservation measures protecting this species.Top
Find out more
For more information on the many-horned adder see:Top
Authenticated (11/07/2006) by Dr. Tony Phelps, Squamate Ecologist and founder of the Cape Reptile Institute.
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