The World's Smallest Venomous Snake!

Bigger does not always mean deadlier in the natural world!  Some may be small but they carry a big stick!

Are you ready to meet the world’s smallest venomous snake?

Drum roll please ….

Allow me to introduce you to Bitis schneideri, more commonly know as the Namaqua dwarf adder, spotted dwarf adder or Schneider’s adder.  With an average length of 18-25 cm and a maximum reported length of 28 cm, this is quite possibly the world’s smallest viperid!

This pint-sized venomous snake at is found in a small (no pun intended!) coastal region that straddles the border between Namibia and South Africa … a relatively small (once again, no pun intended) geographic range.

Unfortunately not a lot is known about this little snake.

These snakes are typically active at night and prefer to hunt small mammals, birds and other small vertebrates (so don’t worry about becoming this snake’s next meal).

These snakes have long hinged, hollow fangs that allow them to inject venom into their poor, unsuspecting victims. When they are not using their fangs, they simply fold back and rest against the roof of the mouth.  Convenient eh?  Quite unlike dentures which some people have to remove and soak at night!

Bitis schneideri is classified as Vulnerable (VU) by the IUCN Red List.  What does this mean for the snake itself? In short, it’s not good news.  Essentially, within the next ten years (or three generations, whichever is longer) we will probably see a 20% reduction in it’s population.  As I said, definitely not good news for this pint-sized killer (of small prey items).

Namaqua dwarf adders can inflict painful but not deadly bites (unless you’re it’s preferred choice of prey). The venom is mildly cytotoxic which means that it attacks both tissues and cells (yup … ouch!). In fact, 80% of the snake bites recorded around the world are cytotoxic bites. This venom is quite slow acting and typically presents itself as rather painful and progressive swelling – just ask those who’ve been bitten by this snake!

But are you going to die from a bite from this snake? Probably not. I still wouldn’t mess with this snake though!

By Candace,


About Candace M Hansen

Wildlife advocate, conservationist and environmentalist.
This entry was posted in Featured Articles, Snakes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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