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Guide to the snake species of Southern Africa

Berg Adder - Bitis atropos
Travel Writer: EcoTravel Africa  

The berg adder, also known as the Cape mountain adder, is a very ill tempered little snake, quick to hiss and strike at anything larger than its usual prey of small rodents, amphibians and ground-nesting birds.

Other names: Afrikaans -- Bergadder :

Photographer: EcoTravel Africa 

Collectors of this species walk through the berg adder country, listening for the rapid hisses to locate the snake.

The bite of the berg adder contains neurotoxic venom, which often affects the ocular nerves, which could cause temporary blindness, lasting from 4 to 5 days, or even up to 3 weeks in severe cases. The different stages of the blindness include double vision, dilation of the pupils and an inability to focus, followed by complete paralysis of the eyelids.

The adders poison has no direct effect on the repertory system, unlike the venom of the cobras. Eyesight will return to normal with no permanent after-effects.

There are areas in the Transvaal where these snakes occur in large numbers, but they are rarely seen elsewhere because of the difficulty of seeing the snake in the low, thick vegetation of mountain slopes and plateaus.

Interesting facts about Berg Adder statistics / bio:

Diet: The usual prey of of the berg adder is small rodents, amphibians and ground-nesting birds.

Distribution (Range): The berg adder is found in higher altitudes of: eastern Zimbabwe; eastern Transvaal; the Drakensberg and the mountains of the southern Cape. They are also found at sea level in the southern Cape, west to the Cape Peninsula.

Size: They grow to a length of 35-50 cm.

Colour: The colour of the berg adder is olive to dark brown above, with an elaborate pattern of black markings: two rows of large triangular or semi-circular spots down the back, normally with a complete or broken white line on the lower side of these; and, on either side, a further row of spots. The chin and throat are creamy or pink, spotted with black; the belly ranges from a dirty white to dark grey.

Most like: The berg adder is very similar to the horned adder, the difference being that the horned adder has three rows of dark spots, one down the middle of the back, and it also has the distinctive pair of 'horns' above the eyes.

Habitat: Mountain plateaus in moist grassland is the preferred habitat of the berg adder, but it is also found in the southern part of the Cape Province, down to sea level, among the fynbos.

Best places to see the Berg Adder in Southern Africa:

 • Kruger National Park

Snakes of Southern Africa    >> Printable Snake List <<  
South African Snakes    >> Printable Snake List <<
Wildlife - Fauna & Flora of Southern Africa

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Southern Africa has many top Game / Nature Reserves, and is home to many of the mammals of southern Africa. Numerous wildlife safari and tour companies operate guided tours to Southern Africa. Popular adventure travel activities in Southern Africa include: horse riding safaris, elephant back safaris, mountain biking, birding, wilderness walking trails, science safaris and volunteering especially for GAP year students.
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