Bitis schneideri (Namaqua dwarf adder)

Namakwadwergadder [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 schneideri (Namaqua dwarf adder), Northern Cape [C. Dorse & S Van Rooyen from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Bitis schneideri (Namaqua dwarf adder), Northern Cape [B. Maritz

from SARCA Virtual Museum]



This adder species can be identified by its grey or grey brown colour, its 3 series of pale centered dark spots down the length of its body, its keeled (rough) scales, dark tipped tail and small size (it is the smallest adder in the world); It has an average length of 20 cm but may reach 28 cm in length.

Distribution and habitat

The Namaqua dwarf adder is only found in the extreme north-western corner of the Northern Cape and the south-western corner of Namibia. Its favoured habitat is vegetated coastal sand dunes in the Western Karoo and Namib desert.


Feeds on lizards (including skinks, lacertids and geckos), small mammals (e.g. rats and mice) and amphibians (e.g. frogs and toads).

Predators, parasites and disease

The biggest threat is habitat destruction associated with diamond mining.


Viviparous (gives birth to live young); three to seven young are born in late summer.


Has an average lifespan of 10 years.

Medical importance

Has a weak cytotoxic venom that causes pain and swelling, Antivenom is unnecessary.



  • 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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