Bitis rubida (Red adder)

Rooiadder [Afrikaans]

 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 rubida (Red adder), Western Cape. [A. Fourie , from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Bitis rubida (Red adder), Western Cape. [A. Lottering & J. Oransie from SARCA Virtual Museum]


Can be identified by its red or reddish brown colouration, between 18 and 30 blotches running down its length (these can be nearly invisible in red coloured specimens) and occasionally very small horns above each eye (very rarely). They grow to an average length of 30 cm but may reach 40 cm.

Distribution and habitat

Found in the Cedarberg and on the inland escarpment in the Western Cape. Its favoured habitat is rocky mountain fynbos.


Feeds on lizards (particularly geckos, skinks, agamas, and lacertids) and occasionally small rodents (e.g. rats and mice).

Predators, parasites and disease



Viviparous (gives birth to live young); up to 10 offspring are born in late summer.


Has an average lifespan of between 5 and 10 years.

Medical importance

Has a weak cytotoxic venom which will cause painful swelling and possibly necrosis. Antivenom is not necessary. 



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


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