Bitis schneideri

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Bitis schneideri
Namaqua dwarf adder, Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Bitis
Species: B. schneideri
Binomial name
Bitis schneideri
(Boettger, 1886)
  • Vipera Schneideri
    Boettger, 1886
  • Bitis caudalis paucisquamatis
    Mertens, 1954
  • Bitis paucisquamata
    FitzSimons, 1962
  • Bitis caudalis paucisquamata
    Klemmer, 1963
  • Bitis paucisquamatis
    — FitzSimons, 1966
  • Bitis schneideri
    Haacke, 1975
Common names: Namaqua dwarf adder,[3][4] spotted dwarf adder,[3] Schneider's adder.[4]

Bitis schneideri is a venomous viper species found in a small coastal region that straddles the border between Namibia and South Africa.[4] This is the smallest species in the genus Bitis and possibly the world's smallest viperid.[3] No subspecies are currently recognized.[5]


The specific name, schneideri, was given by Oskar Boettger in honor of "Dr. Oskar Schneider in Dresden ", a friend of Boettger.[6] Oskar Schneider (1841–1903) was a conchologist.[7]


With an average total length (body + tail) of 18–25 cm (7–10 in) and a maximum reported total length of 28 cm (11 in), this is the smallest species of the genus Bitis and possibly the world's smallest viperid.[3]

Geographic range[edit]

This snake ranges from the white coastal sand dunes of Namibia, near Lüderitz, south to Hondeklip Bay, Little Namaqualand, South Africa. Mallow et al. (2003) describe the range as the transitional regions of the Namib Desert.[3] The viper's habitat comprises a comparatively narrow strip of coastal dunes that appears to be characterized by particularly low seasonality, i.e. small temperature differences between seasons.[8] The range may extend up to 60 km (37 mi) inland in the Sperrgebiet of southern Namibia.[4]

The type locality given is "Angra Pequenia" [ Lüderitz Bay, Namibia].[2]


Populations of B. schneideri naturally appear to be subject to unusually high annual mortality (39-56%) due to their small size and existence in a very predator-rich environment. As a consequence, it is likely that the species has evolved a higher rate of reproduction (once every year) than is usual among viperids, who commonly only reproduce every other year or more rarely.[9]


An account is provided by Hurrell (1981) of a bite he sustained on his left index finger. The symptoms included intense pain, pronounced swelling, discoloration and oozing of serum from the punctures. After 24 hours, a 5 mm hematoma developed at the bite site. His condition stabilized after three to four days, with the swelling and pain gradually subsiding. Healing was complete after two weeks, with no loss of function or sensation of the afflicted digit. Minimal local tissue damage and no systemic effects were reported.[10] No antivenom is available for this species.[3]

Conservation status[edit]

This species is classified as vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List. At time of assessment (1996), a population reduction of at least 20% was projected or suspected to be met within the next ten years or three generations, whichever is the longer, due to a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat, or due to actual or potential levels of exploitation.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1996). "Bitis schneideri". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 1996: e.T2818A9486191. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.1996.RLTS.T2818A9486191.en. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  2. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré TA (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 Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G (2003). True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. 359 pp. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  4. ^ a b c d Spawls S, Branch B (1995). The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Dubai: Ralph Curtis Books. Oriental Press. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.
  5. ^ "Bitis schneideri ". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  6. ^ Boettger, Oskar (1886). "Beiträge zur Herpetologie und Malakozoologie Südwest-Afrikas. I. Zur Kenntnis der Fauna von Angra Pequenia ". Bericht über die Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft in Frankfurt am Main. 1886: 3–29. 
  7. ^ 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. (Bitis schneideri, p. 237).
  8. ^ Maritz, Bryan; Alexander, Graham J. (2012). "Dwarfs on the Move: Spatial Ecology of the World's Smallest Viper, Bitis schneideri ". Copeia. 2012 (1): 115–120. doi:10.1643/ch-11-048. 
  9. ^ Maritz, Bryan; Alexander, Graham J. (2012). "Population density and survival estimates of the African viperid, Bitis schneideri ". Herpetologica. 68 (2): 195–202. doi:10.1655/herpetologica-d-11-00043.1. 
  10. ^ Hurrell DP (1981). "Namaqua dwarf adder bite". South African Medical Journal. 45: 969–971. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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. (Bitis schneideri, pp. 118–119 + Plate 14).

External links[edit]