Atheris ceratophora

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Atheris ceratophora
Atheris ceratophora - Usumbara Bush Viper.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Atheris
Species: A. ceratophora
Binomial name
Atheris ceratophora
F. Werner, 1895
Atheris ceratophora distribution.png
  • Atheris ceratophora F. Werner, 1895
  • Atheris ceratophorus
    Boulenger, 1896
  • Atheris ceratophora
    Broadley, 1996[2]

Atheris ceratophora is a venomous viper species endemic to a few mountain ranges in Tanzania. This used to be the only horned, arboreal viper known from Africa, until the discovery in 2011 of Atheris matildae, also found in Tanzania.[3] No subspecies are currently recognized.[4]

Common names: Usambara bush viper,[3] horned bush viper,[5] eyelash bush viper,[6] more.


It grows to a maximum total length (body + tail) of 54 cm (21 in). Females are slightly larger than males. The maximum total length for a male is reported to be 42 cm (17 in), the tail of which measured 8 cm (3.1 in).[7]

Easily recognized by a set of 3-5 horn-like superciliary scales above each eye. The rostral scale is more than twice as broad as high. There are 9 upper labials. The first 3 lower labials on each side are in contact with the one pair of chin shields.[7]

Midbody, the dorsal scales number 21-25. The ventral scale count is 142-152. There are 41-56 subcaudals.[7]

The color pattern consists of a yellowish-green, olive, gray or black ground color. This may or may not be overlaid by variable markings, sometimes in the form of irregular black spots or cross-bars that may be lined with yellow or white spots. The belly is dirty orange to almost black in color, sometimes with dark spots.[3]

Common names[edit]

Usambara bush viper,[3] horned bush viper,[5] eyelash bush viper,[6] Usambara mountain bush viper,[7] horned tree viper, Usambara tree viper.[8]

Geographic range[edit]

It is found in the Usambara and Uzungwe Mountains in Tanzania. It is probably also found in the Uluguru Mountains.[3]

The type locality is "Usambara" Mountains [Tanzania].[2]


Found in grass and low bushes about 1 m (3.3 ft) above the ground[3] in woodlands and forests at altitudes of 700–2,000 m (2,300–6,600 ft).


Like other Atheris species, it is probably active mainly at night, or at dawn or dusk.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Spawls, S. & Joger, U. (2010). "Atheris ceratophora". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  3. ^ a b c d e f Spawls S, Branch B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Ralph Curtis Books. Dubai: Oriental Press. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.
  4. ^ "Atheris ceratophora". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 13 July 2006. 
  5. ^ a b Atheris ceratophora at the Reptile Database. Accessed 2 August 2007.
  6. ^ a b Atheris ceratophora at The World Of Atheris. Accessed 8 September 2007.
  7. ^ a b c d Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  8. ^ Brown JH. 1973. Toxicology and Pharmacology of Venoms from Poisonous Snakes. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. 184 pp. LCCCN 73-229. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Boulenger GA. 1896. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume III., Containing the...Viperidæ. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers.) xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I.- XXV. (Atheris ceratophorus, p. 510.)
  • Werner F. 1895. Ueber einige Reptilien aus Usambara (Deutsch-Ostafrika). Zoologisch-Botanische Gesellschaft in Wien 45: 190-194.
    ("Atheris ceratophora n. sp.", p. 194 + Plate V, Figures 1a-1e.)

External links[edit]