All about the Bushmaster snake – how to identify, avoid their habitat, and treatment for their bite.
Description: The Bushmaster body color is pale brown or pinkish, with a series of large bold dark brown or black blotches extending along the body. It can grow to a length of 3 meters (10 feet), making it the longest viper snake in the world, and weighs 3 to 5 kg (6.6 to 11 lb). Their body slightly flattened with broad, wedge shaped heads, with an upturned snout. The Bushmaster Snake’s double-scaled tail ends in a horny spine that it vibrates against foliage when disturbed (similar to a Rattlesnake). Its scales are bumpy, extremely rough with a pronounced ridge of hard scales running down the center of their back. There are three species of Bushmaster snakes: Black-headed Bushmaster, South American Bushmaster, and Central American Bushmaster.
The Bushmaster uses pits, one located on each side of its head and in between their eyes and nostrils, which they use to detect body heat. A Bushmaster can detect and strike a victim using nothing more than their thermal sensors.
Characteristics: The world’s largest pit viper has a bad reputation. This huge venomous snake is not common anywhere in its range. It lives in remote and isolated habitats and is largely nocturnal in its feeding habits. It seldom bites anyone, so few bites are recorded, but when it does, multiple bite strikes are used to inject large amounts of venom.
Bushmaster Snake’s are slower moving than other vipers and have very delicate backs that break easily if picked up or carried. It is uncommon to find one in a zoo because their weak backs prohibit transport.
A bite from one would indeed be very serious and fatal if medical aid was not immediately available. Usually, the bites occur in remote, dense jungles, many kilometers and several hours or even days away from medical help. Bushmaster fangs are long. In large bushmasters, they can measure 3.8 centimeters (1 3/4 inches). Its venom is a powerful hemotoxin that causes internal bleeding in its victim.
Habitat: Found chiefly in relatively cool, heavily forested, tropical forests. They typically live in remote environments where people seldom travel.
Length: Average 2.1 meters (7 feet), maximum 3.7 meters (12 feet).
Distribution: Northern South America and parts of Central America, including Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad, and Brazil.