Bitis cornuta (Many horned adder or Western hornsman adder)

Veelhoringadder, Horingsman [Afrikaans]; Unompondwana [Xhosa].

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Lepidosauromorpha > Lepidosauria > Squamata > Serpentes (snakes) > Family: Viperidae > Genus: Bitis

Bitis cornuta  (Many horned adder or Western hornsman adder, Northern Cape [A.J. Van Wyk from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Bitis cornuta (Many horned adder or Western hornsman adder), Northern Cape [W Price from SARCA Virtual Museum]


Easily identified by its grey or reddish brown body and by the tuft of horns above each eye. It grows to an average length of 40 cm but may reach 54 cm.

Distribution and habitat

The Many horned adder is found in the following areas; along the Northern Cape coast, south-eastern Namibia and their is a small population east of Cape Town. Its favoured habitats includes mountains, rocky outcrops, desert gravel plains and mountain savanna.


Feeds on lizards, small rodents (e.g. rats and mice), birds and amphibians (e.g. frogs and toads).

Predators, parasites and disease

Fed on by other snakes. It is also threatened by humans who illegally remove it from its habitat and is often killed while crossing roads.


Viviparous (gives birth to live young); five to 14 young are born in late summer to early autumn.


Has an average life span of 10 or more years.

Medical importance

Has potentially dangerous cytotoxic venom which causes painful necrosis. Antivenom is not required.



  • Broadley, D.G. 1983. FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern Africa. Delta Books, Johannesburg.

  • Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishing, Cape Town.


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