We are delighted as we received video footage of renowned herpetologist Paul L Lloyd encountering a hefty Gaboon Viper in the wild. He has also presented us with an informative insight into this majestic creature. Enjoy this article!
"This snake has two unique distinctions; it is the largest of all true viper species, averaging 1,5m but as much as 1.8m in length as an adult, with a girth of as much as 40cm and has the longest venom fangs of any snake in the world (as much as 5cm in adults).
Despite having the appearance of the stuff of nightmares, this snake has been described by many snake experts as docile and gentle.
By experience I seldom encounter these snakes as aggressive or bad tempered and they seldom try to bite.
They are a lazy snake; ambush hunters by nature, waiting for their prey to come to them. They are so lazy and laid-back that there are many stories of people actually inadvertently stepping on them and the snake not responding at all (unlike with the puff adder which is a permanently irritable snake.
When this snake lies on the forest floor amongst the leaves, it is almost impossible to detect despite its large size. Found mainly in forested areas and places of thick bush.
These are more common in the Sulawesi district than puff adders. May bask in the sun during the day, not moving at all and at sunset will move off to find an animal trail and wait for prey. They may be seen in the same place for weeks or months on end.
Like most vipers, Gaboons eat mainly warm blooded prey, such a rodents, ground living birds and a large one can even manage a small antelope or wild pig.
Apart from the striking colouring and pattern, it can also be recognized by two small scaly horns between the nostrils.
In mating season, males participate in combat. The gestation period for females ia about 12 month. Unlike many snakes, the females give birth to live young (termed; ovoviviparous) around January. What this means is that the eggs remain in the female, they hatch inside the female and the live young exit the female through the cloaca. Thereafter, they are fully functional.
Despite its docile nature, a bite from this snake delivers the greatest volume of venom than any other snake and must be considered a serious medical emergency. The venom is also a combination of cell destroying, nerve affecting as well as blood affecting components causing massive and traumatic tissue and organ damage."
We are also pleased to inform you that Paul has a team of trained “snake catchers” who help him with rescues. Training and education are organized in Zambia, all in aid of preserving our treasured snakes and keeping the population safe
"I have great respect and love for these awesome creatures and love when people gain an understanding and appreciation for them through my training. The more I can help and educate, the better!
Snake Handling Training
Snake are creatures with their own physical attributes and unique behaviour. One cannot learn to handle a wild animal safely unless you understand its behaviour. This is OK when it comes to specialization in one species such as one of the big cats or elephants, etc.
There are however, so many different species of snakes (Zambia has about 90 known species and 2 of those have been gazetted as recently as 2015) and they all have different behaviour.
OK, all the cobras may have similar behaviour, all the tree snake may behave similarly and all the adders.........etc.. but even within the genus individuals have their little quirks.
I present courses in awareness and recognition and practical handling twice a year. However, in two days, one can only deliver the basics."
You can find out more about him and his work as he started a Facebook page called “Snakes Alive Zambia”.
Another group called “Zambian Snakes and Other Creepy Crawlies” also shows some interesting features (they have about 2000 members and we are putting some really exciting stuff on the page).
Venom Defender Gloves
Disclaimer; We at Snake Professional & 1-2-1 (Animal Handling) Products do NOT advise this method of handling and doing so is at the handlers own risk!