Rough-scaled bush viper, Rough-scaled tree viper, African hairy bush viper, Hairy bush viper, Hairy viper, Atheris hispida
Atheris hispida is a venomous viper species endemic to Central Africa. It is known for its extremely keeled dorsal scales that give it a bristly appearance. No subspecies are currently recognized. Common names include rough-scaled bush viper, spiny bush viper, hairy bush viper, and more.
The Spiny bush viper is a venomous snake native to Africa. It is known for its extremely keeled dorsal scales that give a unique 'shaggy' idea to its skin, almost bristly appearance. The scales around the head and neck are the longest, decreasing posteriorly. Spiny bush vipers vary in color and can be green, olive green, bluish, or brownish with a yellow or pale olive belly. The males of this species are surprisingly long and slender compared to the females.
Spiny bush vipers are found in Central and East Africa. They occur in northern and eastern DR Congo, southwestern Uganda, western Kenya, and northwestern Tanzania. These snakes inhabit tropical dry forests and rainforests with flowering bushes.
Spiny bush vipers are solitary and nocturnal creatures that typically spend the daytime basking on top of flowering bushy plants. They are also capable of climbing reeds and stalks and hang upsidedown from tree branches. Spiny bush vipers are ambush predators; they usually hunt their prey perching in trees but may sometimes feed on mammals hiding in foliage on the ground.
Not much is known about their venom except that it is mainly neurotoxic. Besides the neurotoxins, they also carry cytotoxins and fasciculins. Toxicity of individual specimens within the same species and subspecies can vary greatly based on several factors, including geographical region. Even the weather and altitude can influence toxicity (Ernst and Zug et al. 1996). A bite can be fatal to humans without access to proper first aid and subsequent antivenom treatment. Until recently, their venom has often been regarded as less toxic than that of many other species, perhaps because bites are uncommon, but this turned out not to be the case. There are now a number of reports of bites that have led to severe hemorrhaging of internal organs.
Spiny bush vipers are carnivores. Their diet typically consists of mammals, frogs, lizards, and sometimes birds.
Spiny bush vipers breed during the rainy season between the late summer and October. After the gestation period of 6 to 7 months, females give birth to up to 12 young at a time. Newborns are about 15 cm (5.9 in) in total length and are dark green in color. They are independent at birth and become reproductively mature between 2 and 3 years of age.