Reptiles of the World: Fer-de-lance

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Bothrops atrox

rw-150-Fer-de-lanceThe Fer-de-lance is a South American pit viper. Members of this genus range from Central America far south onto the continent. This species grows to well over 7 feet long in Central America. The head of such a snake is 2 1/2 inches long and the erectable fangs almost an inch from base to point.

These beautifully blotched snakes occupy wet forest sites and are often found floating among the mats of water hyacinths in tropical rivers. They feed on rodents and give birth to more than 60 living young. The young have a bright-yellow tail which they wave, attracting the small lizards upon which they feed.

The bite is deadly, and the venom causes severe tissue destruction that leads to rapid death unless anti-venom is available.