Bitis gabonica rhinoceros

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Bitis gabonica rhinoceros
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Bitis
Species: B. gabonica
Subspecies: B. g. rhinoceros
Trinomial name
Bitis gabonica rhinoceros
(Schlegel, 1855)
  • Vipera rhinoceros - Schlegel, 1855
  • Echidna rhinoceros - Duméril, 1856
  • C[lotho]. rhinoceros - Cope, 1860
  • V[ipera]. (Echidna) rhinoceros - Jan, 1863
  • Vipera (Bitis) rhinoceros - Peters, 1877
  • Bitis rhinoceros - Peters, 1882
  • Bitis gabonica rhinoceros - Mertens, 1951[1]

Common names: West African gaboon viper.[2]  
Bitis gabonica rhinoceros is a venomous viper subspecies[3] found in West Africa. It is distinguished from the nominate subspecies primarily by the the presence of a set of large nasal horns.[2]


B. g. rhinoceros has a distinctive set of enlarged nasal scales that look like a pair of horns on its nose. This is a characteristic that it shares with a close relative, B. nascornis, but B. nasicornis has a brighter color pattern and a narrower head.[4] B. g. gabonica has no such enlarged nasal horns, and is overall somewhat smaller than B. g. rhinoceros. Also, in B. g. gabonica, the dark triangular marking leading back from the eye towards the angle of the mouth is divided, whereas in B. g. rhinoceros it is not.

Geographic range

Found in West Africa from Ghana west to Guinea, including Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast. Togo is also mentioned.[1][2][4][5]

According to Spawls & Branch (1995), Ghana and Togo are at the eastern limit of the range of this subspecies, and they begin to intergrade here with B. g. gabonica. The distribution map they provide indicates that the general range for B. g. rhinoceros does not include Togo, but that there has been at least one report of a specimen found there.[4] Togo, together with Benin and at least eastern Ghana, are part of a larger region known as the Dahomey Gap; a relatively dry region that separates the rainforests of West Africa from those of Central Africa.[6][7]

See also

Cited references

  1. 1.0 1.1 McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida. 359 pp. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  3. Bitis gabonica rhinoceros (TSN 634952) at Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Accessed 4 April 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Spawls S, Branch B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Ralph Curtis Books. Dubai: Oriental Press. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.
  5. Species Bitis gabonica at the Species2000 Database
  6. Comparative Phylogeography of Reptiles and Amphibians in West Africa at Homepage, Adam D. Leaché - Ph.D Candidate. Accessed 7 August 2006.
  7. Salzmann, Ulrich, Hoelzmann, Philipp. 2005. The Dahomey Gap: an abrupt climatically induced rain forest fragmentation in West Africa during the late Holocene. The Holocene, Volume 15, Number 2, February 2005, pp. 190-199(10).

External links