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Spider-tailed Horned Viper Uses Spider-Like Tail To Capture Birds

September 15, 2015



The spider-tailed horned viper has a unique way to capture its prey. It uses its tail to lure its prey closer so it can go in for the kill.

Vladislav T. Jirousek/Shutterstock

The spider-tailed horned viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) is unique among snakes in that it has a tail that mimics a spider to attract its prey, primarily birds. 

The snake was first discovered in the 1960s but then fell off the radar until it was rediscovered in 2006. The viper is native to Iran. The coloration of the reptile depends the locality in which it is found, but generally they have grayish-brown. It grows to about 531mm in length with a 55mm tail. When the species seas described in 2006, the scientists who described the reptile speculated that the appendage at the end of the tail served as a caudal lure. This has since been verified via observation, and via video.


The spider-tailed horned viper has a unique way to capture its prey. It uses its tail to lure its prey closer so it can go in for the kill. It is extremely well camouflaged to look like the rocks in which it inhabits. 


John Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 

 

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