Bush Viper

Learn about the bush viper snake! See our guide today.


If you’re looking for more about the bush viper, you’re in the RIGHT place!

Vipers are fantastic reptiles to discover.

Atheris are small snakes that reside in trees.

Johan Fredriksson [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Did you know that the scientific name of green viper is Atheris squamigera?

But what other snakes is this snake related to?

The rough scaled viper is one…

As for their family description spiny vipers are part of this snake family too.

So, discover the species of this viper on our site:

  • Know about the bush vipers ecosystem
  • Learn how the viper is venomous and how dangerous it can be
  • Find out why these vipers mainly feed on small nocturnal animals

…and many more facts about bush vipers below. Read on for more!

Scientific Name

The scientific name of these snakes is Atheris. Here is a look at some of the different species that are found around the world:

  • Spiny viper species
  • Rough scaled viper species
  • Hairy viper species
  • American viper species
  • African viper species
  • Green viper species
  • Red viper species

Reptile Family

These snakes belong to the Viperinae subfamily of snakes and their family is known by the name of Viperidae.

  • The higher classification of this snake is vipers.
  • In the scientific world, they rank as Genus.

Why are they called Bush Vipers?

These snakes are very good at climbing and can easily climb up at a higher point. They are so good at climbing that they are very easily able to reach the upper parts of different flowering bushy plants. This is also the place where it spends most part of the day, because they love to spend time in the sun.

Michael Rivera [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

What do they look like?

Take a look at the common and distinctive features of these snakes in terms of the way they look:


Usually, a viper snake can be found in a variety of colors that have a similarity with the outdoors, such as green, olive green, bluish colors or some type of brownish colour.  

Head Size and Shape

  • Usually, almost all the different species of this snake, such as the African variety, American variety, red variety and others, have a head that is triangular in shape and is quite broad.
  • The head of this snake is in typical cases larger than the size of the neck.
  • This makes the head of this viper look distinctly different from the neck.
  • Also, the crown of this viper snake is usually covered with small and smooth scales.


  • In almost all the types of bush vipers, the eyes are quite large and the pupils are elliptical in shape.
  • This kind of pupil not only makes it easier for these snakes to be able to see in the dark, making it easier for them to find their prey while they are on a hunt.
  • Also, one thing that is quite noticeable in the location of the eyes on the snake is the fact that their eyes are separated from the area of the mouth along the upper jaw by about 1 to 3 rows of scales.
  • There is also a separation of the eyes from the nasal area by about 2 to 3 scales.

Body Characteristics

  • This snake has a slender, compressed body.
  • The dorsal scales in this type of snake are overlapping. These refer to the scales on the body of the snake that are like a longitudinal series of plates and encircle the body.
  • The scales on the body of these types of snakes are keeled, which makes them rough to the touch instead of being smooth.
  • This snake has long and hollow fangs that are tubular in shape.
  • The venom that is supplied to the fangs of this snake comes from a gland that is situated on the upper jaw area between the eyes and the mouth.
  • Their tail has a strong prehensile quality, which is very helpful in supporting their body if they are hanging from a branch.  

Different Viper Species

Stéphane Magnenat [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

There are different types of vipers, and the most common of them are as follows:

1. Red Variety

The red variety is a type of the Atheris species and is named so because of its colour. It is found in the tropical sub-Saharan African region, excluding southern Africa.

2. American Variety

These types of snakes are usually found in parts of South America.

3. African Variety

  • The African variety is also known as Atheris squamigera and is mostly found in the central and western parts of Africa.
  • One thing that is quite unusual about this type of snake is that it does not make a hissing sound by scale-rasping on it’s tail, which is most commonly associated with snakes.
  • Some of the most common African viper colors are red, orange, green, yellow or even in a combination of these different colors.
  • In some cases, this particular species can also change its color during its lifetime.

4. Green Variety

The green variety is a type of African viper, and is also known as the Atheris squamigera. This snake can be especially deadly for the human species. Many of these are found in agricultural areas, where they lie in wait for their prey.

These species of snakes are extremely venomous, and while they usually do not come forward to attack, unless they are hunting, they can easily strike their venom if they come in close proximity to humans.

How common are these snakes?

Not all of these snakes are common. A lot of their species are now isolated and have become fragmented in their distribution because they are able to live properly only in rain forests or areas that have a similar climate.

In which region are these snakes typically found?

  • In most cases, these types of snakes are usually found in the tropical sub-Saharan African region, which does not include southern Africa. The African variety is most commonly found in the western as well as the central parts of Africa.
  • Some types of these snakes, especially the American variety, are also said to be found in some parts of South America.
  • These snakes typically love to inhabit the rain forests, or areas that have a similar climate.
  • They can also sometimes be found in dense agricultural areas.  

What are the chances that humans will encounter bush vipers?

These snakes are usually a solitary species that spend most of their time away from other habitation. It usually comes around other living beings only when it is time to mate, or when it is looking to hunt.

As a result, it is not very common that human beings will easily encounter this kind of snake (unlike the green viper about which you can read about above), unless they are out in the specific areas where these species of snakes are found.