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Causus rhombeatus
General Details, Taxonomy and Biology, Venom, Clinical Effects, Treatment, First Aid , Antivenoms
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Causus
Species: rhombeatus
Common Names
Common Night Adder , Rhombic Night Adder
Local Names
Gewone Nagadder , Changwa , Cheewa , Choichodo , Embalasasa
North Africa + Sub-Saharan Africa
Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire ( Ivory Coast ), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritania
Taxonomy and Biology
Adult Length: 0.50 m
General Shape
Small to medium in length, cylindrical to slightly depressed, moderately stout bodied snake with a short to very short tail. Can grow to a maximum of about 1.01 metres ( but exceptional ). Head is moderate in size and distinct from neck. Canthus is obtuse. Snout is obtusely rounded. Eyes are medium in size with round pupils. Dorsal scales are soft and feebly keeled with apical pits. Dorsal scale count usually ( 19 to 21 ) - ( 17 to 20 ) - 12 ( 11 to 13 )
Elevations up to about 2200 metres in mesic savanna, grassland, woodland and swamp and occasionally found at the edge of forest or in forest clearings.
Terrestrial and mainly nocturnal. In spite of the common name, it is often active during the day. When inactive it hides during the day usually in undergrowth, in logs, under stones or in abandoned termite nests and forages at night by sense of smell ( poor eyesight ). If disturbed and angered will inflate its body with air and hiss and puff. If provoked it will raise the anterior of the body off the ground, into a coil with the head tilted back and strike, tending to lash rather than stab.
Mainly frogs, toads and lizards. Often swallows the frogs and toads without any ill effects.
Species Map
Small (Approx 20k) version
Average Venom Qty
20 to 30 mg ( dry weight ), Minton (1974) ( Ref : R000504 ).
General: Venom Neurotoxins
General: Venom Myotoxins
General: Venom Procoagulants
Antithrombin III inactivating toxin
General: Venom Anticoagulants
General: Venom Haemorrhagins
General: Venom Nephrotoxins
General: Venom Cardiotoxins
General: Venom Necrotoxins
General: Venom Other
Clinical Effects
General: Dangerousness
Unknown, but unlikely to cause significant envenoming, most unlikely to be dangerous.
General: Rate of Envenoming: Unknown
General: Untreated Lethality Rate: Unlikely to prove lethal
General: Local Effects
Local pain & swelling
General: Local Necrosis
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: General Systemic Effects
General: Neurotoxic Paralysis
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Myotoxicity
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Coagulopathy & Haemorrhages
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Renal Damage
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Cardiotoxicity
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Other
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
First Aid
Description: First aid for bites by Viperid snakes likely to cause significant local injury at the bite site (see listing in Comments section).
1. After ensuring the patient and onlookers have moved out of range of further strikes by the snake, the bitten person should be reassured and persuaded to lie down and remain still. Many will be terrified, fearing sudden death and, in this mood, they may behave irrationally or even hysterically. The basis for reassurance is the fact that many venomous bites do not result in envenoming, the relatively slow progression to severe envenoming (hours following elapid bites, days following viper bites) and the effectiveness of modern medical treatment.
2. The bite wound should not be tampered with in any way. Wiping it once with a damp cloth to remove surface venom is unlikely to do much harm (or good) but the wound must not be massaged.
3. All rings or other jewellery on the bitten limb, especially on fingers, should be removed, as they may act as tourniquets if oedema develops.
4. The bitten limb should be immobilised as effectively as possible using an extemporised splint or sling; if available, crepe bandaging of the splinted limb is an effective form of immobilisation.
5. If there is any impairment of vital functions, such as problems with respiration, airway, circulation, heart function, these must be supported as a priority. In particular, for bites causing flaccid paralysis, including respiratory paralysis, both airway and respiration may be impaired, requiring urgent and prolonged treatment, which may include the mouth to mask (mouth to mouth) technique of expired air transfer. Seek urgent medical attention.
6. Do not use Tourniquets, cut, suck or scarify the wound or apply chemicals or electric shock.
7. Avoid peroral intake, absolutely no alcohol. No sedatives outside hospital. If there will be considerable delay before reaching medical aid, measured in several hours to days, then give clear fluids by mouth to prevent dehydration.
8. If the offending snake has been killed it should be brought with the patient for identification (only relevant in areas where there are more than one naturally occurring venomous snake species), but be careful to avoid touching the head, as even a dead snake can envenom. No attempt should be made to pursue the snake into the undergrowth as this will risk further bites.
9. The snakebite victim should be transported as quickly and as passively as possible to the nearest place where they can be seen by a medically-trained person (health station, dispensary, clinic or hospital). The bitten limb must not be exercised as muscular contraction will promote systemic absorption of venom. If no motor vehicle or boat is available, the patient can be carried on a stretcher or hurdle, on the pillion or crossbar of a bicycle or on someone's back.
10. Most traditional, and many of the more recently fashionable, first aid measures are useless and potentially dangerous. These include local cauterization, incision, excision, amputation, suction by mouth, vacuum pump or syringe, combined incision and suction ("venom-ex" apparatus), injection or instillation of compounds such as potassium permanganate, phenol (carbolic soap) and trypsin, application of electric shocks or ice (cryotherapy), use of traditional herbal, folk and other remedies including the ingestion of emetic plant products and parts of the snake, multiple incisions, tattooing and so on.
Treatment Summary
Most cases will be minor, requiring observation, symptomatic treatment only. No antivenom available.
Key Diagnostic Features
Local pain, swelling, lymphadenopathy, fever
General Approach to Management
It is possible that most cases will be minor, but some cases may be more severe, requiring admission and treatment, so assess carefully before discharge.
Antivenom Therapy
No antivenom available
No Antivenoms
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