Horned viper

Cerastes cerastes

SUBFAMILY

Viperinae

TAXONOMY

Cerastes cerastes Linnaeus, 1758, "Egypt." Two subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Desert horned viper, Saharan horned viper; French: Vipère à cornes; German: Hornviper.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The horned viper is rather short and stout in body shape, and the tail is short. The head is triangular and covered with small scales. Many specimens have a raised horn over each eye. Hornless specimens have a raised brow ridge. The horn is made up of a single elongated scale. The neck is thin, and the body is covered with pronouncedly keeled scales, in 25-35 rows. The size typically is between 11.8 in (30 cm) and 23.6 in (60 cm), but occasionally specimens can grow to 2.8 ft (85 cm). The ground color is mostly grayish, yellowish, or reddish with a series of rectangular brown blotches along the back.

DISTRIBUTION

The horned viper occurs in northern Africa in sandy habitats. It also occurs in eastern Sinai.

HABITAT

To a large extent, this is a sand-dwelling species, but it often may live in habitats mixed with rocks and stones. Occasionally, it occurs in ground with more clay, typically mixed with some sandy soils.

BEHAVIOR

During the daytime this nocturnal species hides under rocks or in rodent burrows, and it will even dig down into the sand.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The prey consist of rodents, lizards, and birds.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

This viper is oviparous and can produce between 10 and 23 eggs. CONSERVATION STATUS

The species has a rather wide distribution and is not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Bites do occur, but the species is not thought to be particularly dangerous. ♦

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment