The African Gaboon Viper: Longest Fangs On The Planet

By Gloria Siess, {"Garnetbird"}

This is a beautiful snake, with impressive coloration. it does NOT do well in captivity and should be left to the wilds.
This is a beautiful snake, with impressive coloration. it does NOT do well in captivity and should be left to the wilds.
Note the shape of the head.
Note the shape of the head.
Sample bite from a Gaboon Viper.
Sample bite from a Gaboon Viper.

If someone asked you what snake possesses the longest fangs in the world, what would you say? The answer is, the African Gaboon Viper. This reptile makes its home in Africa, where it prefers the bushy moistness of the Rain Forest. It lays in wait for its prey, ambushing them with a sudden, shocking lunge. It eats mammals and birds of differing sizes. The female Gaboon Viper gives birth to up to 17 young at one time.

This is not an accommodating pet (even for a snake) but many reptile enthusiasts adore keeping them. They have a thick body, wedge-shaped head, and can grow to be 6 feet long. These snakes are members of the Puff Adder Family. They must be very carefully handled as like all reptiles, they can be unpredictable and territorial. The photo of the man's hand decomposing from a Gaboon Viper bite is a lesson to be learned for any snake handler.

I recently watched an amazing program on National Geographic concerning a Gaboon Viper and its owner. Apparently the snake had bitten its handler and was taken away by Animal Control, to insure the man's safety. The administration was compassionate, however and allowed him to have "supervised visits" with his Gaboon Viper, something I found rather amusing and a tribute to human feats of forgiveness.

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Comments 10 comments

diogenes profile image

diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

Yes, they are a lovely and rather unpredictable reptile. I am against keeping these snakes in captivity. They are unhappy and can be dangerous to handle. Also, feeding them is not for the faint-hearted (more for the hard-hearted!) Bob.

PS You have an interesting profile, must have been rewarding.

GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 6 years ago from Northern California Author

Thank you! I'm under challlenged these days; I mostly sell books on Amazon and go geo-caching. Have a lovely weekend!

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

Very interesting. I have never met one these but we have many snakes in South Africa, including the puff adder.

I think keeping snakes in captivity generally is not a great idea.

Thanks for sharing this information.

Love and peace


Barry 5 years ago

firstly, only compentently trained individuals should be handlingthese reptiles, with that said there are individual that can and do handle them. The issue is not to believe that these animals " love " you no reptile can or ever will love you. Respect and the sure knowledge that they can and will defend themselves if provoked or startled or stimulated. To issue a ban on all persons owning them is ignorant and only the dullest minds can believe they know best for all for your betterment.

GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 5 years ago from Northern California Author

I used the term "beloved" somewhat sarcastically as obviously a member of the reptile family is not capable of loving back. They are not mammals or even birds. We recently had a tragic case in California where a young woman bought a Gaboon Viper illegally and died. It bit her when she cleaned its cage and she was gone within 15 minutes. I believe it was on that featured show Fatal Attractions.

jimmylesaint profile image

jimmylesaint 4 years ago from Metropolis of Life

I reared two of these lovely creatures with their awesome diamondy leaf patterns which make them impossible to see in the early morning sun amongst the forest leaves. They have the uncanny ability to disolocate their jaws whilst swallowing large mice/rats and this is when you see the size of their fangs which can grow up to 2.5inches! We milked them for antevenom and used them for education. When handling we did it very carefully as when using a 3fingered grip the snake can dislocate sideways and bite through their bottom jaw with one fang. These beauties are deadly and not to be cuddled!!

GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 4 years ago from Northern California Author

so true..your comment was fascinating and well balanced..thank you..

Mac1 4 years ago

Just wondering if the gaboon viper in between the hand & top picture, is dead? It looks lifeless. I have an interest in venomous snakes, especially this fantastic creature! Their markings are beautiful but they command respect.

Garnetbird 4 years ago

The photo is of a sleeping snake in its enclosure, I believe. Thank you so much for your visit.

GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 4 years ago from Northern California Author

Thanks for your comment!

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