Eastern diamondback rattlesnake with mouth open showing fangs


Vipers are venomous snakes whose long, hinged, hollow fangs inject deadly toxins. Vipers are generally ambush predators and have mouths that can open to almost 180 degrees during a strike. Strikes are primarily aimed at stunning prey though may also be used in self-defence. The 30 genera in the viper family contain over 200 species including rattlesnakes, lanceheads and puff adders. They can be found in unexpected places, living in trees, in water and in the desert, but most live on the ground. Surprisingly, Australia is one of the two continents where vipers are not to be found. The other is - unsurprisingly - Antarctica.

Scientific name: Viperidae

Rank: Family


Map showing the distribution of the Vipers taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

Explore this group


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

When they lived

Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.

BBC News about Vipers

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