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Atheris nitschei TORNIER, 1902

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Viperinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Great Lakes Bush Viper 
SynonymAtheris nitschei TORNIER 1902: 589
Atheris woosnami BOULENGER 1906
Atheris nitschei — WELCH 1994: 21
Atheris nitschei — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 356
Atheris nitschei nitschei — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 23
Atheris nitschei — BROADLEY 1998: 121
Atheris nitschei — DOBIEY & VOGEL 2007
Atheris nitschei — WALLACH et al. 2014: 62
Atheris nitschei — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 591 
DistributionTanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, E/S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), elevation 1500-3000 m.

Type locality: Mpororo Swamp, Tanzania. During colonial times the Mpororo region was situated in the so-called “Zwischenseengebiet” (in-between lakes region), between Lake Victoria, Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganyika. Today this region comprises parts of northwest Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The collection locality could have been situated in the region of today's border between Tanzania and Rwanda (as mentioned by McDiarmid et al., 1999).  
TypesSyntypes: ZMB 17669 
DiagnosisDescription: Broadley 1998: 121

Colouration. Green above, with a black arrowhead marking on top of the head (often fragmented) and often a black lateral stripe from the tip of the snout through the eye. A series of irregular black dorsal blotches which may fuse to form a zig-zag pattern, many dorsal scales tipped or bordered black, tail tip blackish. Ventrum uniform lighter greento yellow-green or with a dark median streak. Juveniles dull grey-green to almost black, with or without black markings, tail tip white (Broadley 1998). 
CommentVenomous! Atheris nitschei rungweensis has been elevated to full species status.

Habitat: fully arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018).

Distribution: Not in Zambia (Broadley 2003) 
  • Bogert,C.M. 1940. Herpetological results of the Vernay Angola Expedition. I. Snakes, including an arrangement of the African Colubridae. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 77: 1-107 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1906. Description of a new Tree-Viper from Mount Ruwenzori. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (7) 18: 37-38 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D. G. & HOWELL, K. M. 1991. A check list of the reptiles of Tanzania, with synoptic keys. Syntarsus 1: 1—70
  • Broadley, D.G. 1998. A review of the genus Atheris Cope (Serpentes: Viperidae), with the description of a new species from Uganda. The Herpetological Journal 8: 117-135. - get paper here
  • Chifundera, K. 1990. Snakes of Zaire and their bites. Afr. Stud. Monogr. (Kyoto) 10(3): 137-157.
  • Chippaux, Jean-Philippe & Kate Jackson 2019. Snakes of Central and Western Africa. Johns Hopkins University Press, 448 pp. [detaileld review in HR 51 (1): 161] - get paper here
  • Dobiey, M. & Vogel, G. 2007. Venomous Snakes of Africa - Giftschlangen Afrikas. Edition Chimaira, Terralog 15, 150 pp. - get paper here
  • Ernst, R. & Rödel, M. O. 2002. A new Atheris species (Serpentes: Viperidae), from Taï National Park, Ivory Coast. The Herpetological Journal 12: 55-61 - get paper here
  • GETREUER, WALTER 2019. Atheris nitschei. Podarcis 10 (2): 22 - get paper here
  • GOLDBERG, STEPHEN R.; CHARLES R. BURSEY, CHIFUNDERA KUSAMBA & ELI GREENBAUM. 2021. ATHERIS NITSCHEI (Great Lakes Bush Viper). ENDOPARASITES. Herpetological Review 52 (3): 657. - get paper here
  • Gower, D.; Garrett, K. & Stafford, P. 2012. Snakes. Firefly Books, Buffalo, NY,<br />144 p..
  • Greenbaum, E. 2017. Emerald Labyrinth. ForeEdge / University Press of New England, xviii + 329 pp. [published in 2017 but book says 2018] - get paper here
  • Harrington, Sean M; Jordyn M de Haan, Lindsey Shapiro, Sara Ruane 2018. Habits and characteristics of arboreal snakes worldwide: arboreality constrains body size but does not affect lineage diversification. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 125 (1): 61–71 - get paper here
  • Herrmann, H. W.; Joger, U.; Lenk, P. & Wink, M. 1999. Morphological and molecular phylogenies of viperines: conflicting evidence? Kaupia (Darmstadt) (8): 21-30 - get paper here
  • Hörold, Ralf 2014. Schau dich schlau, Schlangenhalter Beobachtungen zum Trinkverhalten von Schlangen. Terraria-Elaphe 2014 (6): 70-72 - get paper here
  • Joger,U. & Courage,K. 1999. Are palearctic ‘rattlesnakes’ (Echis and Cerastes) monophyletic? Kaupia (Darmstadt) (8): 65-81
  • Loveridge, A. 1936. African reptiles and amphibians in the Field Museum of Natural History. Zool. Ser. Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Chicago, 22 (1): 1-122 - get paper here
  • Loveridge,A. 1933. Reports on the scientific Results of an Expedition to the Southwestem Highlands of Tanganyika Territory. VII. Herpetology. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 74: 197-415 - get paper here
  • Mallow, D. Ludwig, D. & Nilson, G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Krieger, Malabar, Florida, 410 pp. [review in HR 35: 200, Reptilia 35: 74]
  • Marshall BM, Strine CT. 2019. Exploring snake occurrence records: Spatial biases and marginal gains from accessible social media. PeerJ 7:e8059 - get paper here
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Menegon, M.; Loader, S.P.; Marsden, S.J.; Branch, W.R.; Davenport, T.R.B. & Ursenbacher, S. 2014. The genus Atheris (Serpentes: Viperidae) in East Africa: Phylogeny and the role of rifting and climate in shaping the current pattern of species diversity. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 79: 12-22 - get paper here
  • Monzel, Markus M 2012. Gifte, Gifttiere, Menschen – eine Geschichte voller (Miss)Verständnisse. Draco 13 (51): 4-25 - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Phelps, T. 2010. Old World Vipers. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 558 pp. [critical review in Sauria 33 (3): 19 and HR 43: 503]
  • Pitman,C.R.S. 1974. A guide to the snakes of Uganda. Codicote, Wheldon & Wesley, L., 290 pp.
  • Rasmussen, J.B. & K.M. HOWELL 1982. The current status of the rare Usambara mountain forest-viper, Atheris ceratophorus Werner, 1895, including a probable new record of Atheris nitschei rungweensis Bogert, 1940, and a discussion of its validity (Reptilia, Serpentes, Viperidae). Amphibia-Reptilia 3: 269-277 - get paper here
  • Roelke, Corey E. & Smith, E.N. 2010. Herpetofauna, Parc National des Volcans, North Province, Republic of Rwanda. Check List 6 (4): 525-531 - get paper here
  • Spawls, S.; Howell, K.; Drewes, R.C. & Ashe, J. 2002. A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, 543 pp. [reviews in HR 34: 396 and Afr. J. Herp. 51; 147] - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • Tornier,G. 1902. Herpetologisch Neues aus Deutsch-Ostafrika. Zool. Jahrb. Syst. 15: 578-590 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • WALLACH , VAN 2019. Envenomation effects of a snakebite by the Great Lakes Bushviper, Atheris nitschei Tornier 1902, from Kivu, Zaire in April 1981, with notes on its venom and other bites. Podarcis 10 (2): 39-50 - get paper here
  • Wustrack, F. 2002. Erfolgreiche Nachzucht der Schwarzgrünen Buschviper, Atheris nitschei (TORNIER 1902). Elaphe 10 (1): 42-48
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