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Poisonous animals
Cnidarians (Jellyfish, Corals and Anemones)
Venomous fish
Hymenopterans (Bees, Wasps and Ants)
Sea snakes
Terrestrial snakes
Miscellaneous animals
North America
Mexico and Central America
South America and the West Indies
North Africa, Near and Middle East
Central and Southern Africa
The Far East
Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia
Australia and the Pacific Islands

Biological features of terrestrial snakes

South America and the West Indies



Description of the most important representatives:


General behaviour
Defensive behaviour
Factors relevant to envenoming

Micrurus sp. 

Leptomicrurus sp.


primarily nocturnal



primarily in mesic and dry forests, up to altitudes of over 2,000 m, some species also in stony or sandy arid areas; sometimes close to human settlements and in coffee plantations

conspicuous warning colouring consisting of black, red and yellow cross bands (a number of harmless colubrids also have this colouring)

when threatened, the end of the tail is raised in the air and moved back and forth; the head is sometimes hidden under the coils of the body

generally non-aggressive behaviour; accidents uncommon

Bothrops sp.



primarily nocturnal



in moist habitats; forested areas (also rainforest), clearings, plantations; sometimes also close to human settlements or in green areas in cities

sturdy body, length up to around 2 m or more

generally irritable; they dart forwards from a tensed position and often strike repeatedly

by far the most common cause of snakebites; also responsible for most severe cases of envenoming

Crotalus durissus ssp. 


primarily nocturnal



in drier habitats; savanna-like grasslands and sparse forest; largely absent in rainforest areas; progressive clearing of the rainforests is creating favourable conditions for the South American rattlesnake

stout body with characteristic rattle on the end of the tail; length on average 1 m, but also up to 1.5 m or more

a typical dry and high warning sound is produced by vibration of the rattle; during this process the body is coiled into a tight S-shape and raised from the ground

C. durissus terrificus is the most dangerous subspecies and one of the most dangerous snakes altogether; after the Lance heads (Bothrops spp.) it is responsible for most cases of snakebite envenoming

Lachesis sp.






primary rainforest, remote from civilisation

stout body, length up to 3.5 m!

elatively unaggressive during the day, marked defensive behaviour at night, neck is inflated and the tip of the tail is vibrated, then easily provoked into striking

as Lachesis hardly ever comes into contact with humans, accidents are relatively rare