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Gabonese Venomous Snake Fangs: Why They Are The World's Largest Snake Fangs

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Chances are, you probably haven't heard of Gabon viper fangs. Despite having some of the largest fangs in the world, the Gabon viper is little known outside herpetological circles. That's because, unlike flamboyant and famous snakes like the king cobra, boa constrictor, and Burmese python, the Gabon viper is rare. Inhabiting the deepest rainforests of Central Africa, these snakes happily prey on small and medium mammals. Gabon vipers are among the deadliest snakes on Earth, yet they rarely come into contact with people.

Here, we'll learn all there is to know about Gaboon's Viper's Fang. We'll start by getting to know the Gabon viper better. Then, we'll learn about their fangs, and why they got so big. Finally, we take a look at the Gaboon viper's venom, and what makes it so deadly.

Introduction to Gabon Viper

Gabon Viper
The Gabon viper is one of more than 150 species of venomous snakes worldwide.

©Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

Gabon vipers are African snakes that are not found anywhere else on earth. They have some of the most intricate patterns of any snake, making them difficult to spot on the forest floor. Gabon vipers have the longest fangs of any snake, including those that are longer and heavier than them. These snakes hunt only at night and rarely bite humans. Gabon vipers have incredible venom. Bites often lead to serious complications and even death.

location and habitat

Gabon vipers live in central and western Africa. They are found in Togo, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Ghana, Liberia and more. They mainly live in tropical rainforests, but are also occasionally found in savannahs. Due to their eating habits, Gabon vipers also inhabit agricultural areas with large numbers of rodents.

Unlike other lighter snakes such as the green mamba, the Gaboon viper does not climb trees. Instead, they spend their entire lives on the forest floor, mingling with fallen leaves. Gaboon vipers are actually so heavy they are almost impossible to climb.

physical dimension

Gabon viper on the ground
Gabon vipers are among the heaviest snakes on earth.

©Stu Porter/Shutterstock.com

Gabon viper fangs aren't the only incredible thing about these snakes. They also have some of the most intricate and intricate patterns of any snake. Gabon vipers are brown all over, but almost every shade of brown shows up somewhere on their scales. They are marked with a rectangle and an "X" on the back, flanked by an hourglass pattern in several shades of brown.

Their patterns aren't the only thing that catches the eye of Gabonese vipers. Their heads are also very distinct. They are big and wide. Like all vipers, they have heat-sensitive pits near the nostrils and vertical oval eyes. Additionally, they have large venom glands behind their eyes. As if Gabon vipers weren't unique enough, they also have elongated scales on their snouts that look like double horns.


Gabon vipers are nocturnal ambush predators. At night, they lie in ambush on the ground, completely concealed in dead leaves or grass on the ground. They attack when a small mammal such as a mouse, rat, hare, rabbit, porcupine or Gambian kangaroo runs by. Gabon vipers have extremely long fangs; they are able to inject a lethal amount of venom into their prey in less than a second.

Gabon viper fangs

Gabon viper fangs
Gabon vipers are pit vipers, which means they have very large fangs.

© reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to snake teeth, there are a few different varieties. Gabon vipers' fangs are called solenoglyphous, which basically means they can't be messed with. All rattlesnakes are venomous, i.e. large fangs. Gabon vipers have two rows of small, backward-pointing teeth at the top of their mouths. But most notable are the two-inch-long fangs located at the front of the mouth.

Gabon vipers have such long fangs that they actually fold back when they close their mouths, like a switchblade. They do not retract like cat's claws. When a Gaboon viper is in ambush, the fangs lie flat on the top of the mouth. But when it strikes, all two-inch fangs stick out and penetrate. Like the teeth on the back, they are recurved so that it is impossible for prey to slip away.

Why are the Gabon viper's teeth so big?

Of all the types of snakes in the world, rattlesnakes usually have the largest fangs. Among pit vipers, the fangs of the Gaboon viper dominate. But why are their fangs so big? Gabon vipers grow their fangs to gigantic sizes to more effectively disable and kill their favorite prey, small mammals, research suggests.

The larger a venomous snake's fangs, the better their chances of successfully poisoning their prey. Also, the more successfully they attack, the longer they live and the more babies they have. Thus, over time, snakes with larger fangs disproportionately pass on their large fang genes, resulting in offspring with large fangs.

Gabon viper venom

Gabon vipers have enough venom to kill humans.


Since Gabon vipers mainly live in uninhabited forests, are only active at night, and are generally docile in temperament, few people bite people. Usually, it takes a person to actually step on them for the Gaboon viper's fangs to sink in. Many bites do occur when people deliberately try to deal with these gentle but deadly snakes.

Snakebites in Gabon are always a medical emergency. Their hemotoxic venom is powerful enough to affect the major systems of the body instantly. This can quickly lead to death if left untreated. Locally, the bite area is markedly swollen, and the tissue surrounding the bite is often necrotic. Deaths from venomous snakebites in Gabon are not unheard of, however, with timely antivenom and emergency medical attention victims can be treated.

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featured image

Gabon viper
The venomous Gaboon viper smells with its tongue. It has the longest fangs of any snake. Like many members of Bitis, it has horns between its nostrils.

© Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

about the author

Brandi Allred

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She has degrees in English and Anthropology and writes horror, science fiction and fantasy stories in her spare time.

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