Horned viper Facts

Horned viper Facts
Horned viper is a type of venomous, terrestrial snake that is native to North Africa and Middle East. This snake inhabits stony deserts and semi-arid habitats on the altitude of up to 4900 feet. Horned vipers are ecologically important because they keep number of rodents under control. Habitat destruction, pollution, over-collecting (due to venom) and introduction of new species negatively affect number of horned vipers in the wild. Despite all these factors, population of horned vipers is still stable. These animals are not on the list of endangered species.
Interesting Horned viper Facts:
Horned viper can reach 12 to 24 inches in length. Females are larger than males.
Color of the body matches with the colors of the environment. Upper parts of horned viper are usually sandy, yellowish, pale brown or grayish, covered with light brown crossbars or blotches. Belly is white colored.
Horns above eyes are the most recognizable feature of horned vipers. These structures are actually modified scales which protect eyes from sand and aid in camouflage.
Horned vipers have triangular head, stocky body and short tail. Scales on the dorsal side of the body are keeled. Males have bigger heads and larger eyes than females.
Horned viper produces venom that consists of 13 different toxins. Venomous fangs lay flat in the back part of the mouth. They become exposed when snake opens its mouth to attack the prey.
Horned viper is able to locate the prey by sensing the vibrations of the ground and body heat (of warm blooded animals) and via eyesight.
Horned viper hunts actively and as an ambush predator (using the element of surprise).
Horned viper is a carnivore (meat-eater). Its diet consists of rodents, birds and lizards. Horned viper swallows its prey in one piece.
Horned viper is nocturnal creature. It is active from dusk until dawn. It moves by sliding sideways. This type of movement is known as "sidewinding".
Horned viper wriggles side to side to hide itself in the sand. Snake can surprise the prey and avoid overheating and potential predators during the day when it is covered with sand.
Main predators of horned vipers are monitors, honey badgers and wild and feral cats.
When horned viper is faced with danger, it curls the body and produces rasping sound by rubbing keeled scales together. It also hisses and inflates the body to look bigger.
Mating season of horned vipers takes place from April to June. Snakes locate mating partners via sense of smell (they can sense pheromones). Horned vipers mate in the sand.
Female lays 8 to 20 soft-shelled eggs in abandoned burrows in the ground or under the rocks. Incubation period lasts 6 to 8 weeks. Young horned vipers reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 years.
Horned vipers can survive 14 to 18 years in the wild.

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