(Bitis nasicornis) – rhinoceros viper
Occurs in forested areas from Guinea to Ghana in West Africa, and in Central Africa in the Central African Republic, southern Sudan, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo,Angola, Rwanda, Uganda and western Kenya
Primarily nocturnal, they hide during the day in leaf litter, in holes, around fallen trees or tangled roots of forest trees. Their vivid coloration actually gives them excellent camouflage in the dappled light conditions of the forest floor, making them almost invisible. Although mainly terrestrial, they are also known to climb into trees and thickets, where they have been found up to 3 m (9.8 ft) above the ground. This climbing behavior is aided by a partially prehensile tail. They are sometimes found in shallow pools and have been described as powerful swimmers.They are slow moving, but capable of striking quickly, forwards or sideways, without coiling first or giving a warning. Holding them by the tail is not safe; as it is somewhat prehensile, they can use it to fling themselves upwards and strike.
They have been described as generally placid creatures, less so than B. gabonica, but not as bad-tempered as B. arietans. When approached, they often reveal their presence by hissing, said to be the loudest hiss of any African snake—almost a shriek.
Bitis nasicornis is considered to be one of the most dangerous snakes of Africa. Small doses of the snake’s hemotoxic venom can be deadly. This is unlike the gaboon viper, the largest of the vipers, which uses a considerably larger amount of venom. Bitis nasicornis has both neurotoxic, as well as hemotoxic venom, as do most other venomous snakes. The hemotoxic venom in rhinoceros vipers is much more dominant. This venom attacks the circulatory system of the snake’s victim, destroying tissue and blood vessels. Internal bleeding also occurs. When not in use, the rhino viper’s fangs are folded up into the roof of the snake’s mouth. The snake has the ability to control the movement of its fangs. Simply because the rhino viper may open its mouth does not mean that the fangs will flip down into place. These fangs penetrate deep into the victim and the small doses of venom flow through the hollow fangs into the wound.