A Completely Hidden Viper Strikes From A Leaf Pile And Scores A Meal

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: December 29, 2022
© Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com
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The Gaboon viper is one of the world’s thickest and heaviest vipers, with the longest fangs of any venomous snake, spanning nearly two inches, hiding within the snake’s mouth roof when not in use.

This nocturnal hunter lies absolutely motionless beneath the fallen leaves in its native Africa on the jungle floor. As an ambush killer, it waits for its victim to pass by, sometimes for days at a time. The snake strikes rapidly, piercing and injecting venom into its target. Unlike other vipers, the gaboon viper clings to its prey until it dies, then devours it whole, head first.

An unlucky Guinea Fowl experiences just that as it walks around a tree, not knowing what’s around the corner. A sneaky Gaboon viper named Velvet is hiding in the leaves and lunges forward towards the bird before the feathery animal can even react. The snake’s head is out in the open and yet perfectly hidden amongst the dry leaves and twigs on the forest floor. 

The Smithsonian Channel caught the attack in slow motion and it’s a wild sight to see! The bird instantly gets taken down and as the snake’s venom rushes through its veins, there’s no getting away. 

While the Gaboon viper doesn’t move across land very quickly, it has one of the fastest strikes in nature, at roughly 9.65 feet per second. When the slithery critter sets its eyes on an animal, it’s nearly impossible for them to get away. Caught on camera, Velvet simply waits for the venom to do its job, all while adjusting her deadly fangs for the next kill. 

From the time she attacks the bird to the time lunch is ready is only 10 minutes. Gaboon vipers unhinge their jaws before dragging their prey to a safe spot to eat. They freeze and hiss aggressively as a warning when they are scared. While human bites from Gaboon vipers are uncommon, they are typically lethal. It makes you think twice before walking near a pile of leaves.  See the jaw-dropping video below!

The Featured Image

Gaboon Viper
The venomous Gaboon viper uses its tongue to smell. It has the longest fangs of any snake. Like many members of Bitis, it has horns between its nostrils.
© Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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