Gaboon vipers are a heavy, wide bodied snake. Their head is broad and shaped like a triangle. They have small eyes with a vertical slit pupil. Above each nostril is a small horn shaped scale. Along their body are ridged scales and the body is broken up in to geometric shapes which each feature different coloration. This color can vary greatly being brown, tan, cream and purple.
This coloration provides excellent camouflage on the forest floor which they call home.
They have the largest fangs of any venomous species. The longest on record were 5.8cm (2.3in) long.
An average gaboon viper would measure 1.2m (4ft) though extraordinarily large individuals can reach 2m (6.5ft) long. Their weight is between 7 and 10kg (15.4 and 22lbs).
The gaboon viper is a carnivore. Their diet includes small mammals, birds, frogs and toads. Some large individuals have been recorded eating
To find food they will typically lie in wait with their camouflage preventing them from being seen. When prey is within reach they strike and grab the food injecting their toxic venom. Unlike most snakes which release quickly after the bite they will hold their prey till it is immobilized.
Their venom is made up of neurotoxin and hemotoxin. They have the ability to control if venom is injected and if so, how much on each bite.