Rhombic night adder

Causus rhombeatus

SUBFAMILY

Causinae

TAXONOMY

Causus rhombeatus Lichtenstein, 1823, type locality not specified. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Common night adder, demon adder; French: Vipére nocturne, vipère-démon; German: Krötenotter, Pfeilotter, Nachtadder, Nachtotter.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The night adder is a rather small, stout viper with a distinct rounded head covered by nine larger shields. The pupil is round. The dorsal scales are weakly keeled, and the body is cylindrical. The tail is short. The maximum size of this viper is less than 3.3 ft (1 m), but the average size is only about 11.8-23.6 in (30-60 cm). The normal color pattern is brownish gray with shades of green. Along the back there is a series of about 20-30 dark, light-edged rhombic blotches. On the head there is a characteristic arrow-shaped pattern. The dorsal pattern can vary locally, and occasionally there are patternless specimens.

DISTRIBUTION

The rhombic night adder is distributed widely in southern and eastern Africa and reaches the Cape of Good Hope in the south. It also has a scattered distribution in Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia, Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

HABITAT

It occurs in open habitats, such as savanna, grasslands, forest edges, and swamps.

BEHAVIOR

The viper hisses ferociously when disturbed.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Frogs and toads are the most important prey items.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The species is oviparous and can lay from seven to 26 eggs.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS Very few bites are recorded. ♦

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