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Facts about Puff Adders

Facts about Puff Adders

Introduction

The puff adder is one of the most common snakes in Southern Africa. They average 1.2m in length, and have a thick body with a broad head.  They are a yellow-brown colour, with dark chevrons.   Its fangs are between 12 - 18mm in length. Slow moving and bad-tempered, it relies on its perfect camouflage and will rather freeze than move off.  It will strike at anyone who gets too close - indeed, it is responsible for over 60% of all snake bites to humans in Southern Africa.  However, it is not fatal if treated quickly. When disturbed, it makes a loud hissing or puffing noise. 

Puff adders are most active at night, preferring to shelter during the day from the sun.   They ambush small rodents and birds, and even other snakes. They kill their prey by biting it, and then leaving the prey to die. Its venom is cytotoxic, which attacks the blood cells and tissues.  The venom is slow-attacking, taking up to 24 hours or even more to cause death. If the prey tries to escape, the puff adder will follows the prey's scent with its flickering tongue until the injected venom finally works, and the prey is dead.

Puff adders move in a 'caterpillar' fashion, leaving distinct deep, straight tracks in the sand.

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