Puff Adder

© Graham Cooke
Puff Adder.


Puff Adder [Bitis arietans]








Common Puff Adder [B. a arietans], Somali Puff Adder [B. a. somalica]


1 100 mm


1 090 mm


This thick, heavily-built snake has a large, flattened, triangular head and large nostrils which point vertically upwards. The body is yellow-brown to light brown, with black, pale-edged chevrons on the back and bars on the tail. The scale colours of the Puff Adder allows it to blend in with piles of leaves and is well camouflaged.

Where to Find Puff Adder?

Throughout the subcontinent, north through the whole of Africa to Southern Arabia.


The Puff Adder can give birth to live young as the eggs are carried within the mother which helps avoid predators from eating or destroying the eggs. The Puff Adderr has large litters, usually consisting of 20 - 40 young Puff Adders are born in late summer.


©Nigel Dennis
Puff Adder snake.

The Puff Adder is an aggressive snake and is known to attack with little warning. It gets its name from the way it inflates itself and hisses when threatened. Consider the hissing sound of a Puff Adder as a warning.

It senses the vibrations of footsteps but instead of scurrying away, it uses its camouflage to stay hidden. If you surprise a Puff Adder by treading on it, the snake will feel the need to defend itself so watch where you walk.

The Puff Adder has one of the fastest strikes out of all snakes and should be respected by all those who come in contact with it. Always remember that snakes are more afraid of you so be kind and respect their environment.

Puff Adder Venom

Puff Adder venom is cytotoxic. This can cause swelling, pain, blisters and tissue damage. Seek medical attention as quickly as possible. This venomous snake has large hinged front fangs that are capable of a painful bite and deep venom penetration. Death from a Puff Adder bite is rare and mostly occur from a secondary infection or poor medical care.

Puff Adder Diet

Puff Adders eat rodents, sometimes birds and even other snakes.

Field Notes

The Puff Adder is responsible for more bites and fatalities in Africa than any other snake due to its habit of not moving away from approaching footsteps, instead blowing out air as a warning, hence the name.

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