How terrible is the world’s fattest snake? Is it strong enough to compete with the king cobra?

Not only does it hold the record for weight, the Gaboon viper also has the longest fangs with the highest dose of venom in each bite globally.

The Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica) can grow up to 1.8m long with an impressive girth. With an average weight of 7 – 10 kg, some reaching 20kg, this is the heaviest venomous snake in Africa and the largest member of the Bitis genus of the viper family. They reside in rainforests and woodlands in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Not only does the Gaboon viper’s heavy shape impress, it also possesses the world’s longest pair of fangs (5cm). These dangerous fangs can inject up to 2 grams of venom in each bite, the highest venom dose of any other snake. The Gaboon viper’s bite can be fatal, with symptoms including swelling, heart and tissue damage, blood clotting and necrosis.

With a leaf-shaped head, Gaboon vipers are active at night, blending in with forest leaves on the ground while waiting to ambush wandering prey. As passive hunters, they specialize in targeting small mammals, birds, and frogs. However, some specimens of Gaboon vipers even digest porcupines and antelopes. Even baby wild boars, baby giraffes, big lizards… can’t escape its mouth. After being bitten, the victim will slowly be poisoned and lose resistance, then die and become snake food.

Despite its large size and terrifying bite, the Gaboon viper has a gentle nature. They often make warning hisses before attacking if disturbed. This animal rarely bites humans. Most cases of bites come from captive snakes. In 2018, a man in Korea was bitten by a 1.3-meter-long Gaboon viper. The victim bought a snake smuggled from Africa online.

 

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