Rhombic Night Adder (Causus rhombeatus)

17 Mind-Blowing Facts About the Night Adder

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The night adder is a fascinating and unique species of venomous snake found in Africa and parts of the Middle East. Here are 17 mind-blowing facts about these nocturnal predators that shed new light on their abilities and behavior:

Facts About the Night Adder

The night adder (Causus rhombeatus) belongs to the viper family and gets its name from its unusual habit of hunting at night. These snakes have several remarkable adaptations that allow them to thrive under cover of darkness when many of their prey species are active.

Despite being venomous, night adders are not particularly aggressive and will seek to escape rather than bite if given the opportunity. However, they are capable of delivering a dangerous bite so should not be handled.

Read on to uncover some captivating insights into the biology and lifestyle of the mystical night adder!

17 Mind-Blowing Night Adder Facts

  1. Night adders have vertically elliptical pupils – an adaptation to their nocturnal habits that allows more light to enter the eye. This gives them excellent night vision.
  2. They have heat-sensing pits on their heads allowing them to locate warm-blooded prey in the dark by their body heat alone. This ability is so precise, that they can strike accurately even without seeing their target.
  3. Camouflage is key to these ambush predators. Their skin color and patterning provide perfect concealment amongst leaf litter and rocky terrain. They remain motionless, often for hours, waiting to strike.
  4. With lightning-fast reflexes, night adders can launch from their coiled position and bite in just 0.13 seconds – faster than the blink of an eye!
  5. Their venom is a potent hemotoxin that attacks blood vessels and causes extensive internal bleeding. Without antivenom treatment, bites can be fatal.
  6. Unlike many snakes, night adders do not lay eggs. Instead, they give birth to live young, with litters usually consisting of 4-20 babies.
  7. Baby night adders enter the world fully equipped with venom and all the hunting instincts of the adults. They immediately disperse to fend for themselves.
  8. The longest recorded night adder was just under 2 feet. Despite their small size, these stocky snakes can deliver a substantial dose of venom.
  9. Night adders hibernate during the winter months, holing up in disused burrows or rock crevices for weeks or even months without food or water.
  10. With distribution across much of Africa and parts of the Middle East, night adders occupy an extensive range and can be found in diverse habitats.
  11. These snakes play an important role in controlling rodent populations that can devastate crops and spread disease. Their venom rapidly kills prey.
  12. They have an excellent sense of smell thanks to specialized sensory organs in the roof of their mouth that pick up scent particles in the air.
  13. If threatened, night adders may perform an unusual defensive display – flattening the neck into a narrow hood and hissing loudly.
  14. Their genus name Causus is derived from the Greek word kausos meaning ‘burning’, likely referring to the burning pain of a bite.
  15. Mating takes place in spring or early summer. Males may engage in ritual combat dances to win the attention of a female.
  16. A single meal may sustain a night adder for weeks due to its slow metabolism. This aids survival when prey is scarce.
  17. On very hot days, night adders may venture out during daylight hours if shelter is unavailable. However, they rarely bask openly like other snakes.


The night adder is a stealthy and lethal predator, exquisitely adapted to hunt under the cover of night across Africa and the Middle East. Their unique traits and behaviors enable them to thrive in darkness when many other snakes are inactive.

From lightning-fast strikes to heat-sensing ability, camouflage, and defensive displays, night adders are fascinating snakes that warrant respect. These mind blowing facts have uncovered some captivating insights into the biology and lifestyle of the mystical night adder!

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