Green bush viper

Atheris squamigera

SUBFAMILY

Viperinae

TAXONOMY

Atheris squamigera Hallowell, 1856, "near the river Gabon, Guinea" (Gabon). Two subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Common bush viper, leaf viper, variable bush viper; French: Vipère d'arbre; German: Blattgrune Buschviper.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The green bush viper is a species that grows up to 31 in (78 cm) in size, with the females larger than the males. The body is covered with strongly keeled scales. The tail is comparatively long and prehensile. The color varies, with yellow, reddish, and gray specimens. The majority of individuals are greenish.

DISTRIBUTION

The species occurs through the tropical belt of western and central Africa, from Ghana in the west to Uganda and western Kenya in the east. Southward it is distributed down to northern Angola.

HABITAT

This is a rainforest species, often preferring low, thick, flowering bushes.

BEHAVIOR

During the daytime it can be found up in the vegetation, while in some investigated populations it moves down toward the ground at night to prey on ground rodents.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Rodents are the main prey items for adult bush vipers.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Mating takes place in October, and the live young are born during March and April. The clutch size is about seven to nine young.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Few bites are recorded, but fatal cases are known. ♦

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