The Horned Adder (Bitis caudalis) was high on my wish-list on my recent trip to Namibia. Not an uncommon species but any means in fact locally they are abundant and can occur in rather high densities as I was to discover.
These snakes can be found in the early morning basking amongst small shrubs and on the move at dusk, they are short stocky snakes with a single soft horn above each eye (may be absent in some specimens as we saw recently). They will aggressively hiss and strike out when confronted failing this they will make a hasty escape and may move in a classic swide winding motion often throwing itself forward in an S shape motion.
These snakes are incredibly variable and even within a small radius individuals may differ greatly in colour and pattern. Feeding mainly on small geckos and lizards which are abundant in the desert. Larger individuals will take small mice which they may become accustomed to living in the disused burrows of the same rodents.
They are capable of inflicting an extremely painful bite, however the venom is not life-threatening however they should be treated as dangerous snakes. Due to their variation and small size the Horned Adder is greatly prized by collectors in the pet trade and is collected extensively in both South Africa and Namibia (illegally in both cases).
For more images of this species please see Horned Adder – Bitis caudalis