This video shows the effect a Puff Adder’s cytotoxic venom can have from just a scratch (not even a full bite).

WARNING: This video contains some graphic medical footage!

Jax Tanner found this snake in his garden a couple of years ago and, even though he didn’t know what it was, picked it up to take some photos & videos.

Puff Adders can strike extremely fast, and their fangs are long enough to bite through their own bottom jaws – unless you’ve been trained on how to handle them, doing so can be extremely dangerous!

While waiting for his wife to get home Mr Tanner tried putting the Puff Adder under a bucket on their lawn, but when he released its head the snake turned and scratched one of his thumbs with a fang.

Towards the end of the video you can see the results from a couple of weeks later – he ended up needing multiple operations and a skin graft from his leg to replace the tissue that the venom destroyed on his hand and arm.

The lesson to be learnt from Mr Tanner’s misfortunate is that you shouldn’t pick up snakes unless you’re a trained professional, even if you think you’ve correctly identified them!


About this Snake:

Common throughout most of South Africa (excluding mountain-tops, true desert, and dense forests), Puff Adders are slow-moving and excitable snakes with potently cytotoxic (tissue destroying) venom.

Puff Adders rely on their camouflage to remain unseen, and when disturbed they coil into a defensive “S”-shape and hiss loudly (hence their name). They usually move in a straight caterpillar-like motion but may move in a more rapid serpentine motion when trying to get away.

They are responsible for a large number of bites because unlike most other snakes they won’t move off when approached, and their exceptionally fast striking ability. Their fangs fold back against the roof of their mouths when not in use, and can be up to 18mm in length – this video provides an example of how Puff Adder fangs work.

As ambush hunters, Puff Adders sometimes wait motionless in one spot for hours at a time. They feed on rats, mice, birds, lizards, and occasionally other snakes.

Viviparous, they give birth to 20-40 young in the late summer months.

Find out more about this species here.

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