Nose-Horned Viper

The Nose-Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes ammodytes) is a highly venomous reptile in the Viperidae family of viper snakes. It is a viperid. It is also known as the Horned Viper and Western Sand Viper. Scientists think it might be the most dangerous snake in Europe.

The Nose-Horned Viper has a head covered with small, irregular scales that can be smooth or slightly keeled (ridged). It has 10-13 small scales around its eyes. The nasal (nose) scale is large that looks like a horn with 9-17 smaller scales along it, but it is soft and flexible. 

The male has irregular dark-brown, dark-grey, or black markings and a thick black stripe from its eye to its jaw. The male has V-shaped markings on its back like a zig-zag pattern. The female lacks the dark V-shaped markings on its body, and is browner and more bronze-coloured than the male. Its underbelly can be grey, yellowish-brown, or pinkish. Both have a black tongue and golden or copper-coloured eyes.

Nose-Horned Viper

It grows to 50-70 centimetres (20-28 inches) long. The female is usually larger than the male. Its fangs are 1.3 centimetres (half an inch) long. 

It is found in southern Europe, the Balkans and parts of the Middle East. It is a burrowing snake and often hides in the sand. It also likes rocky habitats.

The Nose-Horned Viper is usually diurnal, more active during the day. It hibernates in winter for 2-6 months, depending on its location.

It feeds on small mammas and birds. Younger Vipers eat lizards. It kills its larger prey with its sharp fangs, but smaller prey is often swallowed without using its venomous fangs to kill it first. 

The female is ovoviviparous. She has 1-20 live young, called snakelets, which are 14-24 centimetres (5-9 inches) long when they are born.

Nose-Horned Viper
Nose-Horned Viper

Location of photographs: Parc Zoologique de Paris in Bois de Vincennes, France

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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