It's been a week for spotting hidden snakes, but if you're among those who thought this camouflaged copperhead was easy to pick out amongst the leaf litter, here's your next challenge! 


Primatologist Erin Kane photographed this sneaky serpent while out in the field in West Africa. The location may give you a clue about which species you're looking for – but if you're still not sure, Kane's follow-up tweet may help:

"I spend my time looking for arboreal monkeys, so [the snakes'] camouflage stresses me out a bit," she wrote. "Fortunately, they're very calm snakes."

When it comes to African snakes that are both quiescent and dangerous, there's one obvious contender: the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica). 

[Reveal below; don't scroll if you're determined to spy the snake on your own!]


Gaboon vipers are impressive animals: they're the biggest vipers on the continent, reaching more than six feet (1.8 meters) in length. But when it comes to lifestyle, they're all about taking it slow. In fact, a 2006 study of six Gaboon vipers found that the snakes hardly moved on 75-95% of the days they were observed. This makes sense: these ambush hunters prefer to sit and wait for prey to pass by, relying on that mottled skin in order to remain undetected against the leaf litter

As you can see here, the strategy definitely works. If you want another go at spotting it, Kane also shared a closer view of this particular snake:


Gaboon viper bites involving humans are rare – and most experts will tell you these snakes are more likely to freeze than strike when detected. 

For her part, Kane hopes these photos will inspire curiosity. "I'd advise that people treat snakes with interest, rather than being afraid of them or going out of your way to harm them," she told ABC.

There are currently two subspecies recognised by scientists: the East African Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica gabonica) and the West African Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica rhinoceros). The latter's Latin name is a nod to the two lengthy "horns" that sit between the nostrils


Top header image: Mark Dumont/Flickr