The Bush Viper

Atheris is a genus of venomous vipers known as bush vipers. They are found only in tropical Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding southern Africa) and many species have isolated and fragmented distributions due to their confinement to rain forests. In an example of convergent evolution, they show many similarities to the arboreal pit vipers of Asia and South America. Sixteen species are currently recognized. They are relatively small in size, with adults ranging in total length (body + tail) from 40 cm (16 in) to a maximum of 78 cm (31 in). All species have a broad, triangular head that is distinct from the neck. The canthus is also distinct and the snout is broad. The crown is covered with small imbricate or smooth scales, none of which is enlarged. The eyes are relatively large with elliptical pupils. The eyes are separated from the supralabials by 1–3 scale rows and from the nasal by 2–3 scales. The body is slender, tapering, and slightly compressed. The tail is strongly prehensile and can support the body while suspended from a branch or a twig. Members of this genus come in an amazing variety of colours and patterns, often within a single species. A. ceratophora and A. squamigera are particularly variable. Not much is known about their venom except that it is strongly hemotoxic, causing pain, swelling and blood clotting problems. Credit: Wikipedia.