All about the Eyelash pit viper snake – how to identify, avoid their habitat, and treatment for their bite.
Eyelash pit viper
Description: Eyelash pit vipers (also known as Eyelash Mountain Viper, Schlegel’s Palm Viper,Horned Palm Snake, and Eyelash Palmpitviper) are a venomous pit viper that may be identified by 2-3 sharp, spiny scales over each eye giving them the appearance of eyelashes. It it were not for this unique, and bizarre, characteristic, the Eyelash pit viper would be difficult to identify. The Eyelash pit viper’s color is highly variable, from bright yellow, red, brown, or green over its entire body to reddish-yellow spots throughout the body. There is even one variety that is pink.
Characteristics: The Eyelash pit viper has a wide, triangular shaped head with eyes that have vertical pupils It has large, hypodermic needle like fangs that fold back into its jaw. The modified scales above its eyes look very much like eyelashes. Although the colors can vary greatly throughout its lifetime, the most common color though, is green, yellow, or red. The snakes colors vary throughout its lifetime.
It has an irritable disposition. It will strike with little provocation. Its venom is hemotoxic, causing severe tissue damage. Deaths have occurred from the bites of these snakes.
The Eyelash pit viper is largely nocturnal. It feeds on small rodents, frogs, lizards, and small birds.
Symptom:The Eyelash pit viper has very long fangs. The bite, which leaves distinct puncture wounds, can be quite painful. Bites produce mild to moderate swelling and possibly mild blistering although baby bites may be no worse than a mosquito bite.
Treatment: There are few recorded bites from the Eyelash pit viper. When they have bitten, they tend to not release much venom. Fluid may accumulate around the bite and the injured person may experience mild shock. Immobilize the injured limb and treat as you would a normal snake bite treatment.
Habitat: The Eyelash pit viper prefers lower altitudes, humid, tropical areas with dense trees. Tree-loving species found in rain forests; common on plantations and in palm trees. The Eyelash pit viper is a arboreal snake that seldom comes to the ground. It feels more secure in low-hanging trees where it waits patiently for tree frogs and birds. They often return the a common “ambush site” year after year.
Since it spends much of its time in trees, it is a dangerous species because most of its bites occur on the upper extremities. They will sometimes wiggle their tail in an attempt to give it the appearance of a small worm to use as bait.
They will typically be found near permanent sources of water.
Length: Average 45 centimeters (18 inches), maximum 75 centimeters (30 inches). It is one of the smallest poisonous snakes in South America.
Distribution: Found from southern Mexico to through Central America and into northern South America (Colombia, Venezuela) but have been known to slip into banana shipments and transferred to other parts of the world. They can also be found in Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, and Peru.