Wild Encounter: Rhino Vipers

Wild Encounters

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WJBF) – Welcome back to Riverbanks Zoo for another edition of Wild Encounters and today we’re talking Rhino Vipers.

We are here with Karyn and we’re talking about Rhino Vipers.

So, Karyn, why don’t you give us a little rundown about what we have here in front of us.

Karyn Wheatley: “So, we have here Rhino Vipers. Their scientific name is Bitis Nasicornis. These Rhino Vipers are really special to us here at the zoo…here at the herpitology department as they are the first time we have ever bred this species here. We’ve been working with this species for 30 plus years now.”

Let’s talk a little bit about how these guys are really small right now. How big will they get?

Karyn: “That’s a good question. These snakes are a lot different than other reptiles. Many reptiles lay eggs and then babies are hatched from those eggs. These snakes actually give birth to their live young. So, the female actually develops the eggs inside of her body and the baby comes out as a live, moving, crawling snake.”

So, about how many Rhino Vipers do we have here in front of us right now?

Karyn: “There are 21 babies. So, the litter is actually a decent sized litter. They can have up to 30 or 40 babies for the species. This is a first-time mom for this animal. So, she’s pretty young. So, we weren’t expecting it to be as large, but she gave birth to 21 healthy babies.”

I’m gonna ask the question that I’m sure a bunch of people are wondering: How venomous are these snakes and are they as venomous as their adult counterparts?

Karyn: “They are venomous. They are venomous as soon as they are born. They do have the same amount of toxicity as their parents do, but as babies they are not able to have as much of a yield of venom; and what I mean by that is that their venom sacks are still small and developing, whereas the adults are much larger and will be able to push out more venom than their offspring.”

If you want to check these Rhino Vipers out for yourself, you don’t have to go far. Just visit Riverbanks Zoo and see them for yourselves!

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