The Spider-tailed Horned Viper – Snake and spider simultaneously
The Spider-tailed Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) is a snake that’s bound to scare the arachnophobes. It has a spider-like tail, that it uses for luring its prey. Its tail strongly resembles the camel spider I talked about earlier. That’s no surprise as they originate from the same area, namely Iran.
Today, there’s not much known about this strange creature, as it has been described for the first time only in 2006 by Bostanchi.
What does the spider-tailed horned viper look like?
An adult female can get up to 1.74 ft/53 cm big. The spider-like tail measures around 2.2 in/55 mm. A male has been found that had a total length of 2.76 ft/84 cm, with a tail length of 3.15 in/8 cm.
It has an extremely effective camouflage as it completely resembles its environment. Its scales are more rugose than in any other snakes found in its habitat. This makes its skin very rough.
The snake uses both direct and lateral movements to move around. When exiting its burrow, it uses direct movements. When escaping from predators, however, it uses lateral movements.
Where does the spider-tailed horned viper live?
It occurs across the North Arabian Desert from Sinai and Jordan Iraq, southwestern Iran east to Afghanistan, and Pakistan (in the region wast of the Indus River). The figure to the right shows the geographic distribution of the spider-tailed horned viper.
What does it eat?
It mainly feeds on birds, as researchers found feathers in its excrement. It also feeds on reptiles and small mammals. It lures its prey by mimicking a spider with its tail. The movements it makes with its tail, make the appendage on its tail look exactly like a spider moving rapidly. When the prey is close enough, the spider-tailed horned viper strikes and grabs it with its mouth. All of this happens in less than 0.5 seconds.
Observations in captivity confirmed that the spider-tailed horned viper uses caudal luring to attract unsuspecting birds.
The video below shows the movement of the spider-like tail of the Pseudocerastes urarachnoides:
Cover photo by Wikimedia Commons.
What do you think about this weird animal? Any arachnophobes caring to share what this animal does to them? The comment section is all yours!