The Namaqua dwarf adder is the smallest venomous snake in the world (3), reaching a maximum length of just 28 centimetres (2). A true viper, this unusual snake is a member of the Viperidae family, which contains true vipers (Viperinae) and pit vipers (Crotalinae) (2). All members of the family Viperidae have broad triangular shaped heads and heavy bodies that feature many scales (2). They have long hinged, hollow fangs that allow them to inject venom into their victims; when not in use, these fangs fold back and rest against the roof of the mouth (2).
Very little is known of this rare species. Members of the Viperidae family tend to be active at night. They hunt for small mammals, birds and other small vertebrates. Species belonging to the genusBitis are viviparous(2).
The predominant threat to this species’ survival in the wild has been the mining activities on the coast of South Africa and Namibia (4). It has also been collected heavily for the pet trade, with 200 known to have been taken recently from the Port Nolloth area in Namaqualand, in the northwest of South Africa (4).
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Animals with a backbone.
Giving birth to live young that have already reached an advanced stage of development.
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