Basic Care Sheet – Bitis Cornuta Many Horned Adder

Here you will find information regarding care for your reptiles. These are member contributions.

Basic Care Sheet – Bitis Cornuta Many Horned Adder

Postby michael » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:11 pm

This is a species that I had the privilege of working with some time ago. I spent a significant amount of time in the area where these small adders occur I will try to use this information to make the care sheet more comprehensive.

Enclosures and substrate and temperature:
I housed all the cornuta I had in all glass enclosures 40cmx30cmx30cm. The lid was a wooden frame with fine mesh stretched across the top. I used gravel from the area where I obtained the specimens as a substrate but later changed to news paper as I felt it was more hygienic and easier to maintain. I provided a small low hide box big enough for the animal to feel secure.

I provided my cornuta with small shallow water bowls. I have often seen post where people debate whether water bowls should be provided but I found that they all drank quite freely from the water bowls provided.
I used a small piece of drift wood or branch in the cage to aid them when they shed.

As for temperatures I provided extra heat using a small low wattage heating pad that was partially under the one half of the cage. This way the snake was able to regulate its temperature. Looking back a low wattage heat lamp would have been a better choice as this would have provided a more natural basking spot photoperiod could have also been controlled better that way.

Natural environment:
I feel it’s important to discuss the species natural environmental conditions here as it should influence its husbandry. The area has hot dry summers and cool winters during which most of the rainfall occurs. During summer the midday temperatures regularly exceed 30° and drop at least 10° at night. This influence’s the snake’s natural behavior. In the wild this species is crepuscular and nocturnal. The surface temperatures at midday are far too high for most reptiles in this area and as such they regulate their activities to coincide with acceptable temperature ranges. I observed cornuta basking on top of low bushes or in open patches early in the morning while in the evening and at night they were more active. They are often found crossing roads at night or just lying on the tar soaking up residual heat. In terms of newly caught captive cornuta imitating natural conditions would help them acclimatize to captivity with far less stress. During winter the average midday highs don’t often go above the mid to low 20’s again there is a significant night time drop. The humidity I would also expect to be slightly higher during this period due to the increased rainfall. Activity for this species seems to peak in the spring coinciding with mating season. I found large females far more abundant during this time.

I found that most of the cornuta I maintained would feed quite easily on appropriately sized mice. I would allow the snake to defecate and then wait a week or two before offering any more food. I used prekilled mice offered from forceps or just left a dead mouse in the cage overnight. I found that the females (seems to be the case with most small vipers) fed very well. The males were a different story and would often go off food for a few months. I noticed that the males did not loose much condition during these fasts. Specimens that were not keen to take mice would usually take appropriately sized geckos without to much difficulty.

As I already mentioned this species mates in spring after a winter cooling period. The young are quite large and are capable in my opinion of taking day old pinks.

I received exciting news the other day that the female I originally had is still alive and doing well. If this is correct that would make this snake a ten year old captive. What is important is that she was an adult when I got her making her real age in excess of ten years.

This species adapts very well to captivity and will breed fairly easily if good husbandry is practiced. Initially they are irascible but calm down very well. They are fascinating and undemanding captives. Please just make sure you know that the cornuta you are planning to buy/acquire come from a legal source and are not poached. Namaqualand is a fragile ecosystem and destroying cornuta populations for the pet trade is not worth it.
Michael Burmeister
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Re: Basic Care Sheet – Bitis Cornuta Many Horned Adder

Postby scales4life » Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:38 am

Very good post, thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with the rest of us! (sorry couldn't find a smiley with a thumbs up)
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