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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Montatheris
Broadley, 1996
Species: M. hindii
Binomial name
Montatheris hindii
(Boulenger, 1910)
  • Vipera - Boulenger, 1910
  • Hindius - Reuss, 1939
  • Bitis - Kramer, 1961
  • Atheris - Marx & Rabb, 1965
  • Montatheris - Broadley, 1996[1]

  • Vipera hindii - Boulenger, 1910
  • V[ipera]. hindei - Schwarz, 1936
  • Bitis hindii - Kramer, 1961
  • Atheris hindii - Marx & Rabb, 1965
  • Montatheris hindii - Broadley, 1996[1]

Common names: Kenya mountain viper,[2] Kenya montane viper,[3] montane viper.[4]  
Montatheris is a monotypic genus[5] created for a venomous viper species, M. hindii. This is a small, terrestrial species found only at high altitude on Mount Kenya and the Aberdare mountain range in Kenya. No subspecies are currently recognized.[6]


This is a small species reaching an average length of 20-30 cm and a maximum of about 35 cm. The head is elongated and not very distinct from the neck, while the eyes are small and set in a rather forwards position. The dorsal scales are strongly keeled.[2]

Geographic range

Endemic to Kenya. Known only from isolated populations on Mount Kenya and the moorlands of the Plateau, Kinangop Aberdare mountains. The type locality listed is "Fort Hall, Kenya." Since Fort Hall is at an altitude of only 4000 feet (1219 meters), Loveridge (1957) questioned whether this was accurate.[1][3]


Occurs at high altitudes of 2700-3800 m in treeless moorlands. Favors clumps of bunch grass for cover.[3]


A terrestrial species. Because of the low nighttime temperatures in its native habitat, it is only active during the day and when there is enough sunlight to warm its environment.[3]


It feeds on chameleons, skinks and small frogs. It may also take small rodents.[7]


This species is apparently viviparous (ovoviviparous). One wild-caught female produced two young in late January,[3] while another gave birth to three in May. The young were 10-13 cm long.[2]

See also

Cited references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 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. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Spawls S, Branch B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Ralph Curtis Books. Dubai: Oriental Press. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.
  4. Montatheris hindii at World of Atheris (
  5. Montatheris (TSN 634426) at Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Accessed 22 March 2007.
  6. Montatheris hindii (TSN 634980) at Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Accessed 22 March 2007.
  7. Spawls S, Howell K, Drewes R, Ashe J. 2004. A Field Guide To The Reptiles Of East Africa. A & C Black Publishers Ltd., London. 543 pp. ISBN 0-7136-6817-2.

Other references

  • Andrén C. 1976. The reptile fauna in the lower alpine zone of the Aberdare and Mt. Kenya. British Journal of Herpetology 5(7):566-575.
  • Marx H., Rabb G.B. 1965. Relationships and zoogeography of the viperine snakes (Family Viperidae). Field Zoology 44:161-206.
  • Broadley D.G. 1996. A review of the tribe Atherini (Serpentes: Viperidae), with the descriptions of two new genera. African Journal of Herpetology 45(2):40-48.

External links