| Latin Name
| Conservation Status
||C America & N S America
||45 - 75 cm (18 - 30 inches)
Eyelash Vipers are a species of venomous pit viper. They are between 45 and 75 cms (18 - 30 inches) in length and females are larger than males. They can be a variety of colours including yellow, brown, green, red and combinations of these and they also often have dark speckled markings.
Their head is wide and triangular shaped and they have good binocular vision and vertical pupils. They have large fangs which are like hypodermic needles allowing a direct injection of venom into their prey. Their fangs are located on their upper jaw and they fold back when they are not in use.
Their most distinguishing feature is the set of modified scales above each eye which look like eyelashes, hence their common name. They are thought to assist the snake in camouflage as they break up their outline. Unlike most snakes, they have rough scales that help protect them against tree branches.
Like all pit vipers, Eyelash Vipers have heat sensitive organs, or pits, between each eye and nostril. The pit organs are complex structures that allow the snake to identify the direction of potential prey and they are of great value to a predator that hunts at night.
They have a prehensile tail that they use to move around trees and foliage, and they are active at night.
Eyelash Vipers are found in tropical rainforests, montane rainforests and cloud forests of central America and northern South America. They are arboreal which means they live in trees, palms, shrubs and vines and they are usually not far from a water source.
Eyelash Vipers feed upon small mammals, lizards, frogs, small birds, including hovering hummingbirds. They attack their prey quickly, inject a hemotoxic venom, wait for it to die and then swallow it.
Eyelash Vipers use their sense of smell to find mates and when two males are competing for the same female they go through a ritual called "the dance of the adders" where each snake faces the other with their head and forepart of their body held erect, while trying to push the other to the ground. This can go on for some time and there is no biting from either snake.
Females retain fertilized eggs inside their body while each young snake develops within their shell, being nourished by its yolk. When they are fully developed they hatch inside the female and she
gives birth to 6 - 12 live young that are between 15 and 18 cms (6 - 7 inches) in length.
The young resemble adult Eyelash Vipers except they are smaller and they are immediately capable of climbing through trees and foliage.
Predators of Eyelash Vipers include large mammals, hedgehogs, badgers, foxes, other snakes, fish, birds of prey and humans.
Eyelash Vipers are also known as:
Eyelash Pit Viper
Eyelash Mountain Viper
Eyelash Palm Pit Viper
Horned Palm Viper
Schlegel's Pit Viper
Schlegel's Palm Viper
Bocaracá (in Costa Rica & other Latin American countries)
Eyelash Vipers have a life expectancy of over 16 years (in captivity).
Eyelash Vipers have accidentally been sent all over the world in shipments of bananas.
They were named after the German ornithologist Hermann Schlegel.
They are not known to be aggressive snakes, but they will not hesitate to strike if they are harassed.
Eyelash Vipers are popular in the exotic pet trade and they are well represented in zoos throughout the world.