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Spider Tailed Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) - 

This rare and understudied viper has adapted a different type of hunting strategy.  Unlike its cousins who use their tails as warning rattles, this small viper uses its strange looking tail as a caudal lure.  The growth on the end of its tail resembles a spider crawling about, and it twitches it in such a way that captures the attention of animals that prey on spiders such as small mammals and birds.  

Although this snake is extremely well adapted and special, specimens found for study are few and far between, so not much is known about its behavior, reproduction habits and lifestyle.  It was not described officially until 2007.  The first specimen found in 1968 was thought to have an abnormal growth on its tail.  Another was not collected until 2003.  Both were found in the deserts of Iran.

libutron
libutron:

African Horned Viper -  Beer Sheva, Southern Israel 
Photographer: Eyal Bartov
Cerastes cerastes are among the most abundant and easily distinguishable of the venomous snakes of the North African and Middle Eastern deserts.
Photographer’s Notes:
The African Horned Viper is a Saharan animal, it lives in the sand deserts of Northern Africa and the Sinai and the Northern Negev in Israel. In order to get rid of potential enemies , it makes scary sounds. The sound is not caused by huffing and puffing, but by rubbing the scales on the sides of the body.

libutron:

African Horned Viper -  Beer Sheva, Southern Israel

Photographer: Eyal Bartov

Cerastes cerastes are among the most abundant and easily distinguishable of the venomous snakes of the North African and Middle Eastern deserts.

Photographer’s Notes:

The African Horned Viper is a Saharan animal, it lives in the sand deserts of Northern Africa and the Sinai and the Northern Negev in Israel. In order to get rid of potential enemies , it makes scary sounds. The sound is not caused by huffing and puffing, but by rubbing the scales on the sides of the body.

The Temple Viper aka Wagler’s Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) is an arboreal and nocturnal viper found in the forests of SE Asia. They display sexual dimorphism: The females are much larger (up to 1 m), and distictively patterned (the patterns may vary across their range). The males are much smaller and thinner, and have simpler patterns, if at all. Like most species of the vipers, they are live bearing. They are generally sluggish and deliberate in their movements, but strike quickly when taking out prey. They possess a rather potent venom.

(photos: Rahul Alvares)

* above photo: Female viper is having none of his shit…

The stunningly beautiful Russell’s Viper (Daboia russelli) is the snake credited with the most bites and human deaths each year. Despite its shy and retiring nature preferring to blend in with its habitat, it is often stepped over and upon by humans with which it often lives in close proximity. It is often found in grasslands and the fields where crops are grown where it feeds upon rodents. Rusell’s Viper spotted by Project Noah member Rivu Ghorai. Want to learn more about the viper family? Check out our Project NOAH blog, Viperidae: The Vipers

The stunningly beautiful Russell’s Viper (Daboia russelli) is the snake credited with the most bites and human deaths each year. Despite its shy and retiring nature preferring to blend in with its habitat, it is often stepped over and upon by humans with which it often lives in close proximity. It is often found in grasslands and the fields where crops are grown where it feeds upon rodents.

Rusell’s Viper spotted by Project Noah member Rivu Ghorai.

Want to learn more about the viper family? Check out our Project NOAH blog, Viperidae: The Vipers

That’s Not A Worm: Endangered Ocellate Mountain Vipers Born At Saint Louis Zoo
by Kelsey Proud
today we bring you a look at a group of highly endangered baby snakes born at the Saint Louis Zoo. The Zoo says nine ocellate mountain vipers were born there on Aug. 16. The species is from northeastern Turkey.
“With a strong history of caring for this species, the Zoo found value in focusing its conservation efforts on a group largely ignored by other zoological institutions,” Jeff Ettling said in a statement. Ettling is the curator of herpetology & aquatics at the Zoo, and director of both the Center for Conservation in Western Asia and the Ron Goellner Center for Hellbender Conservation. “Our studies of mountain vipers in our care have already provided useful information on reproduction and behavior of these poorly known species.” 
Cute or not, and that’s up to you, the species has an interesting history. Once thought to be extinct for nearly 140 years, the viper species was “re-discovered” in 1983, the zoo says…
(read more: St. Louis Public Radio)
photo: St Louis Zoo

That’s Not A Worm: Endangered Ocellate Mountain Vipers Born At Saint Louis Zoo

by Kelsey Proud

today we bring you a look at a group of highly endangered baby snakes born at the Saint Louis Zoo. The Zoo says nine ocellate mountain vipers were born there on Aug. 16. The species is from northeastern Turkey.

“With a strong history of caring for this species, the Zoo found value in focusing its conservation efforts on a group largely ignored by other zoological institutions,” Jeff Ettling said in a statement. Ettling is the curator of herpetology & aquatics at the Zoo, and director of both the Center for Conservation in Western Asia and the Ron Goellner Center for Hellbender Conservation. “Our studies of mountain vipers in our care have already provided useful information on reproduction and behavior of these poorly known species.” 

Cute or not, and that’s up to you, the species has an interesting history. Once thought to be extinct for nearly 140 years, the viper species was “re-discovered” in 1983, the zoo says…

(read more: St. Louis Public Radio)

photo: St Louis Zoo

Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)

The puff adder is a large, venomous snake that occurs throughout Africa and in the southwestern Arabian peninsula. This species usually reaches a maximum length of approximately 1 m, but the largest individuals may be nearly twice that long. Its relatively dull coloration camouflages the snake very effectively. This species is a primarily nocturnal ambush predator, preying on small mammals, birds, lizards, frogs, and toads, and while it spends most of its time on the ground, it can also swim or climb into low vegetation. It is generally slow-moving, but it can strike extremely quickly.

Due to its wide distribution, potent venom, and highly cryptic coloration which makes it prone to being stepped on inadvertently, Bitis arietans is thought to kill more people than any other African snake, accounting for nearly 32,000 deaths per year and many more disabilities. Its venom is highly toxic, capable of causing massive tissue necrosis, as well as a variety of other deleterious physical effects, apparently adapted to immobilize prey and begin the digestive process. However, unlike in some of its close relatives, the venom of B. arietans acts relatively slowly, and with proper treatment, death can be prevented in 90-95% of cases…

(read more: Encyclopedia of Life)

Photos: Javier Gállego, Morroco Herps

Ottoman Viper (Vipera xanthina)
… aka Rock Viper. This is a species of venomous snake, in the family Viperidae, that occurs in northeastern Greece and Turkey, as well as certain islands in the Aegean Sea.
Usually grows to 70-95 cm (27.6-37.4 in), but reaches a maximum length of 130 cm (51.2 in). They can be found living in humid areas, favoring rocky and “well-vegetated” areas. Their diet is thought to consist of rodents and other small mammals, lizards, and birds…
(read more: Wikipedia)                        (photo: Benny Trapp)

Ottoman Viper (Vipera xanthina)

… aka Rock Viper. This is a species of venomous snake, in the family Viperidae, that occurs in northeastern Greece and Turkey, as well as certain islands in the Aegean Sea.

Usually grows to 70-95 cm (27.6-37.4 in), but reaches a maximum length of 130 cm (51.2 in). They can be found living in humid areas, favoring rocky and “well-vegetated” areas. Their diet is thought to consist of rodents and other small mammals, lizards, and birds…

(read more: Wikipedia)                        (photo: Benny Trapp)

astronomy-to-zoology

astronomy-to-zoology:

Spider-tailed Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides)

…a species of Persian horned viper collected in western Iran in 2006. Like its common name suggests this unique viper has an odd wind scorpion shaped growth at the tip of its tail. Originally it was thought to be a Persian Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes persicus) with a odd tumor, but it was later reveled that a whole population had these growths and they were named a new species. 

The growth is actually used as a lure and experiments have shown that birds who peck at it were lead to the vipers head and eaten. So far it has only been observed preying on birds but it is though to prey on other predators of wind scorpions as well.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Reptilia-Squamata-Serpentes-Viperidae-Viperinae-Pseudocerastes-P.urarachnoides

Images: Omid Mozaffari and Fathina et al.