Since we’re finishing up the Year of the Snake I thought I should do a feature on one of my favourite snakes, the eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii). Named for raised scales above their eyes, the eyelash viper has striking features. It comes in a variety of colours including a stunning yellow, mottled green, brown, or grey. Its scales are keeled and rough to the touch which is thought to help in camouflage by helping to deflect light. Found throughout Central America and some of the Northern countries of South America, the eyelash viper sticks to tropical climates. Being an arboreal snake, they prefer areas with denser foliage and are most commonly found in trees. To help with their lives above the ground they have a strong prehensile tail which can grip the branches. Averaging around 65cm in length they are actually a fairly small snake.
The eyelash viper is a nocturnal hunter, generally feeding on small mammals. They are not usually a threat to humans but will bite if provoked or accidentally disturbed. Being a species of viper they have the characteristic hinged fangs that fold back when not in use. A member of the subfamily commonly known as pit vipers, the eyelash viper senses its prey via thermal pits located between its eyes and nostrils. After injecting haemotoxic venom, the eyelash vipers will wait for their prey to die and then consume them.
Eyelash vipers provide many great opportunities for photographers. Since they are generally ambush predators they remain motionless for long periods of time. For young or amateur photographers this provides an easier subject to get clear sharp pictures at the zoo. Also, their colourations can be quite striking and are excellent subject matter.
Not everyone is a fan of snakes which I understand, but I hope after reading this post you’ll stop by even for a moment at the next eyelash viper exhibit you pass. Their vibrant colouration could make them your stepping stone species into the wonderful world of snakes.