Atractaspis bibronii

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Bibron's stiletto snake
Atractaspis bibronii 2.jpg
Atractaspis bibronii full body.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Atractaspididae
Genus: Atractaspis
A. bibronii
Binomial name
Atractaspis bibronii
A. Smith, 1849
  • Atractaspis bibronii
    A. Smith, 1849
  • Atractaspis inornatus
    A. Smith, 1849
  • Atractaspis Bibronii
    A.M.C. Duméril, Bibron & A.H.A. Duméril, 1854
  • Atractaspis rostrata
    Günther, 1868
  • Atractaspis irregularis var. Bibronii
    Boettger, 1887
  • Atractaspis Coarti
    Boulenger, 1901
  • Atractaspis Katangae
    Boulenger, 1910
  • Atractaspis bibronii katangae
    Laurent, 1945
  • Atractaspis bibronii rostrata
    — Laurent, 1950
  • Atractaspis bibronii
    V. Fitzsimons & Brain, 1958
  • Atractaspis bibronii
    Auerbach, 1987
  • Atractaspis bibroni
    Welch, 1994
Common names: Southern stiletto snake,[2] Bibron's stiletto snake,[2] Side-stabbing snake,[2] previously known[2] as Bibron's burrowing asp,[3] Bibron's mole viper.[4]

Atractaspis bibronii is a species of venomous snake in the family Atractaspididae. The species is endemic to Africa. There are no subspecies that are recognized as being valid. [5]


The specific epithet, bibronii, is in honor of French herpetologist Gabriel Bibron.[4]


Adults of A. bibronii average 30–40 cm (12–16 in)[2] in total length (including tail), with a maximum total length of 55 cm (21+34 in).[2] The dorsum is a uniform grey or dark brown to black colour.[2] The belly is a uniform white, or pale yellow in color, with a series of dark blotches. In specimens with a lighter belly coloration, the belly coloration may also include two or three scale rows on the flanks.[3]

The snout is prominent and subcuneiform. The portion of the rostral visible from above is as long as or a little shorter than its distance from the frontal. The dorsals are in 21 or 23 rows at midbody. The ventrals number 221-260. The anal is entire. The subcaudals number 20-23, of which all or the greater part are single (not divided).[6]

Geographic range[edit]

A. bibronii is found in southern Africa, from central Namibia, east to northern South Africa, north to southeastern DR Congo and Uganda, eastern Tanzania, coastal Kenya, and extreme southern coastal Somalia.[3]


The preferred habitats of A. bibronii are fynbos, Namib Desert, karoo scrub, semi-desert, arid savannah, savannah, moist savannah, grassland, lowland forest, and woodland.[2][3]


A. bibronii will eat frogs and small mammals, but its main diet is burrowing reptiles encountered in old termite mounds.[7]


The venom of A. bibronii is highly toxic, although it is produced in very small amounts. Bites are common in some areas of Africa. Often, snake handlers are bitten who are unaware that this species is able to bite while being held by its neck. Bite symptoms usually include mild to intense pain, local swelling with occasional blistering, and necrosis and regional lymphadenopathy. In the early stages symptoms like dry throat and nausea may be present.[2] No fatalities have been recorded.[3] However, this is a serious bite and medical treatment will need to be provided. There is currently no known antidote.


  1. ^ Atractaspis bibronii at the Reptile Database. Accessed 2 July 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Marais, Johan (2004). A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik. ISBN 186872932X. OCLC 55743880.
  3. ^ a b c d e Spawls, Stephen; Branch, Bill (1995). The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Dubai: Oriental Press / Ralph Curtis Books. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.
  4. ^ a b Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Atractaspis bibroni, p. 25).
  5. ^ "Atractaspis bibronii ". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 5 September 2007.
  6. ^ 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. (Atractaspis bibronii, p. 515).
  7. ^ Branch, Bill (2004). Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Third Revised edition, Second impression. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. 399 pp. ISBN 0-88359-042-5 (Atractaspis bibronii, p. 62 & Plate 38).

External links[edit]