Adult Green Patternless For Sale Squamigera Bush Viper
The Variable Bush Viper, also referred to as the Adult Green Patternless For Sale Squamigera Bush Viper is a small, attractive arboreal viper from Central Africa. Their distribution extends from Ivory Coast and Ghana, eastward through southern Nigeria to Cameroon, southern Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo, northern Angola, Uganda, Tanzania and western Kenya. In nature these snakes occur in low, dense vegetation in tropical rainforests throughout these locations.
As the name suggests, the Variable Bush Viper’s colours are extremely variable. This is somewhat dependant on locality and often they undergo a drastic colour change from juvenile to adulthood; born as a plain green snake it may later become a blue snake. This is what makes these vipers so fascinating to work with. The body colour is quite variable, ranging from uniform green to red, yellow, blue, black, orange, or any combination of these colours. This species may change colouration throughout life from birth to adulthood. For example, babies that are born green can change into adults of vibrant colours, or the exact opposite may happen. The scales are heavily keeled, which leads to a somewhat hairy appearance. Unlike A. ceratophora, A. squamigera do not rasp their scales together to make a “hissing” sound. Tail tips are usually yellow or cream coloured and are used for caudal luring by young animals. The tail is also prehensile and is used for grasping, and sometimes hanging from, branches to ambush unsuspecting prey.
These snakes seldom grow to more than around 70cm and males are noticeably smaller than females. The keeled scales and dragon-like appearance, as well as the prehensile tail, will often leave a venomous keeper stunned at the beauty that this snake displays. Having said this, Squams are cheeky little buggers; they are also faster than they appear, and utmost caution should be taken when keeping these little goblins!
Variable Bush Vipers are one of the few species of arboreal vipers that I believe really thrive in captivity. The only problem you should have with regards to feeding Squams is overfeeding or obesity, as they love to eat! Squams are nocturnal ambush predators. Their natural diet consists of frogs, lizards, birds, small rodents and sometimes they have been known to be cannibalistic; however, they readily eat a diet of exclusively rodents in captivity. One needs to be careful to not over feed and I recommend that a prey item be offered once every other week.
Neonate Squams are one of the easiest of the arboreal vipers to get started. They often readily take full pinkie mice, sometimes if the neonates are very small you may need to offer pinkie hind quarters or heads. Tease feeding is often the only way to get Squams started. Gently tapping the prey item on the snake’s tail and head will trigger it to bite; sometimes the snake will hold on to the prey item and promptly begin to swallow, sometimes the snake will drop the prey item – all you need to do is persistently continue to offer the meal until the snake holds on and gets it down. If the snake continues to drop the prey item with no attempt at swallowing at all you may need to offer a smaller prey item/pinky part.
Squams should be housed separately until the stage that you want to pair them for breeding. Keepers from around the world keep these snakes in various ways, some in attractive naturalistic terrariums with live plants, natural substrates, artificial lighting and basking spots. If the correct humidity and temperature gradient is maintained these will work well, however, I have personally found that this is not always possible and a cold or wet draft will cause issues such as respiratory infections and more often than not be fatal to the snake.
I have had great success keeping Squams housed in 11l Addis tubs in a racking system (juveniles) and 26l Addis tubs in a racking system (adults). I find that these tubs hold humidity well, as well as a perfect temperature gradient. The hot side of the rack for Squams should be at around 29-30°C with the cool side at around 22-25°C. This is just a guideline and as long as the snake has adequate perching throughout the cage with a warmer side and a cooler side you should not have any issues.
Little is known about the venom of Atheris species. There have been some deaths related to Variable Bush Viper bites and some with severe haematological symptoms, while some bites have only produced local swelling and pain. There is also no antivenom manufactured for Atheris bites, however in some severe cases Echis sp polyvalent has been used successfully with Squam bites.
As with most venomous bites, the result varies from person to person. The idea is obviously to avoid a bite from any venomous snake – always use the correct handling equipment. For arboreal vipers you should always have a hook stick or two, as well as a good set of feeding tweezers with a bit of length to them. The best advice I can give when dealing with any venomous snakes is to have the right tools, full concentration at all times, and DO NOT TAKE ANY CHANCES!