Gaboon Viper Bite: Why it has Enough Venom to Kill 6 Humans & How to Treat It

Written by August Croft
Published: April 28, 2022
© Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com
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There are a lot of interesting and dangerous aspects of the Gaboon viper bite. This particular snake is highly venomous and fascinating due to the fact that it produces more venom per bite than any other venomous snake. But what else makes the snake so dangerous, and what should you know about its behavior? 

In this article, we will compare the Gaboon viper bite with a number of other snakes so that you can get a true understanding of its danger and power. We will also address the aggression and interaction of the snake with humans and animals, as well as what you should do if you happen to be bitten by a Gaboon viper. Let’s get started and talk about this snake now! 

Why is the Gaboon Viper Bite So Powerful?

Gaboon Viper bite
The fangs of the Gaboon viper are also the longest compared to any other venomous snake. They frequently reach 2 inches!

©Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

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There are a number of reasons why the Gaboon viper has such a powerful and potent bite. For starters, this snake injects more venom per bite than any other snake in the world- we’ll touch more on this particular fact later. Additionally, the fangs of the Gaboon viper are also the longest compared to any other venomous snake. They frequently reach 2 inches!

Another reason why the Gaboon viper is so powerful compared to other species of snakes is that it chooses to bite and hold on to its victim. Most other vipers allow their envenomated prey to run away, tracking the scent and consuming the animal later. However, the Gaboon viper is strong enough and has long enough fangs to get a good grip on just about anything, should it choose to bite down. 

How Much Venom Does a Gaboon Viper Bite Have?

The Gaboon viper is the most venomous snake in the world, but only in the amount of venom that it injects per bite. This isn’t to say that the venom isn’t potent and dangerous, especially when you consider just how much this snake is capable of injecting in a single bite. However, the potency compared to other snake species isn’t as powerful. It’s simply a matter of quantity over quality. But just how much venom is the Gaboon viper capable of injecting? 

On average, the Gaboon viper has anywhere from 200 to 1000 mg of venom found in a single bite. However, some studies report that this snake has injected up to 2400 mg of venom at once. This is an extreme amount, especially when you consider that the maximum amount of venom injected from any other venomous snake averages roughly 1100-1500 mg.

Again, it isn’t always about quantity, though the more venom that is injected, the more likely a person is to experience unfortunate side effects. When you consider the fact that the inland taipan injects 100mg of venom on average and this amount is enough to kill over 200 people, the Gaboon viper bite doesn’t seem quite as bad! 

Gaboon viper bite
The Gaboon viper prefers not to engage whenever possible, so it is unlikely that it would feel the need to strike more than once.

©Stu Porter/Shutterstock.com

Do Gaboon Vipers Bite Repeatedly?

Given all of the studies that have been performed regarding the aggression of the Gaboon viper as well as the way in which it hunts, it is unlikely that it bites repeatedly. This snake is fairly non-aggressive, often surprising scientists and snake experts with its docile nature. Additionally, when the Gaboon viper hunts, it chooses to latch onto its prey rather than letting it run away. 

This behavior suggests that the Gaboon viper only needs a single bite to make its strengths known, and this likely includes the way it interacts with human beings. Plus, the Gaboon viper prefers not to engage whenever possible, so it is unlikely that it would feel the need to strike more than once. 

What Animals Do Gaboon Vipers Hunt?

Given how large this snake gets, the Gaboon viper feeds on a number of mammals and species that many other snakes are incapable of eating. Some frequent favorites of the Gaboon viper diet include: 

Behaving differently from a number of different vipers, the Gaboon viper latches onto its prey and holds onto it until it is dead. This allows the snake to avoid wasting time in pursuing the prey while they wait for it to die. Given the large size and musculature of this viper, it only makes sense that it chooses to hang on for the duration of the poor mammal’s life. 

How Do Gaboon Vipers Interact with Humans?

gaboon viper bite
Even when a human happens to notice or potentially get too close to a gaboon viper, it prefers to leave the area or remain absolutely still, not willing to strike unless absolutely necessary.

©frantic00/Shutterstock.com

Not only are Gaboon vipers primarily nocturnal, they also live in uninhabited rainforested regions of Africa. This means that this particular snake rarely interacts with humans, and prefers to be left alone, like most other venomous snakes. The Gaboon viper has advanced camouflage and markings to help them stay hidden in a variety of environments, and they prefer to not be noticed at all costs.

However, even when a human happens to notice or potentially get too close to a gaboon viper, it prefers to leave the area or remain absolutely still, not willing to strike unless absolutely necessary. In fact, most Gaboon viper bites only occur when the snakes are stepped on and harmed unintentionally, or purposefully provoked. Despite their size and venom levels, these snakes rarely struggle or fight when captured for scientific purposes, and they are surprisingly docile. 

How Do You Treat a Gaboon Viper Snake Bite?

If you find yourself in a situation that leads to you getting bitten by a gaboon viper, it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately. This is the same with all of the venomous snake bites, as you never know just how much venom has been injected into your body and just how potent it is.

Given the fact that the Gaboon viper can kill a single person with as little as 100 mg of venom, seeking medical assistance is necessary to avoid a variety of unfortunate side effects, including death. However, given the fact that the snake truly does want to be left alone, the chances of you getting bitten by a Gaboon viper is fairly rare! 

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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

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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