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Poisonous animals
 
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Genus/Species

 

Pseudocerastes spp., Persian horned vipers

Clinical entries

For clinical data see section “Risk” below

Species

  • 1. Pseudocerastes fieldi
  • 2. Pseudocerastes persicus
  • 3. Pseudocerastes urarachnoides


Formerly two subspecies of Pseudocerastes persicus were distinguished: Pseudocerastes persicus persicus and Pseudocerastes persicus fieldi. But some authors raise them into full species status: Pseudocerastes persicus and Pseudocerastes fieldi (Bostanchi et al. 2006, Wallachet al. 2014).

 

Pseudocerastes urarachnoides was described as a new species in 2006 by Bostanchi et al..

Taxonomy

Serpentes; Viperidae; Viperinae

Common names

  • 1. Field's horned viper
  • 2. False horned viper, Persian horned viper, Asiatische Hornviper, Persiche Trughornviper
  • 3. Iranian spider viper

 

 

  Fig. 4.66 Head of Pseudocerastes persicus.

 

Distribution

Middle East. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.


  Map 48

 

  Pseudocerastes spp.

  (Eristicophis macmahoni)

 

Pseudocerastes urarachnoides: Western Iran (Zagros Mountains)

Pseudocerastes persicus: Iran, southern Afghanistan, Pakistan, Oman

Pseudocerastes fieldi: Sinai, Jordan, southern Israel, southwest Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia

 

Biology

Triangular head, distinct from the body, with upturned nostrils. Horn-like protuberance above the eyes, consisting of several small scales. Colouring greyish to grey-yellow, with dark blotches or cross bands along the back. P. urarachnoides posseses a oval, knob like tail tip from where lateral and caudal scales form elongate appendages. This very unique caudal ornamentation reminds of the rattles of rattle sankes (genus Crotalus and Sistrurus) and might serve as a lure for prey catching.

 

Length up to 90 cm, P. urarachnoides smaller. Desert dwellers, or found in semi-deserts and steppes with sandy or stony ground, up to a height of 2,000 m, in Oman up to 2,200 m.

Side-winders (see Echis). Active in the evening and at night. During the day they retreat to hollows under stones.

 

Risk

No clinical reports, but the venom proved to be strongly toxic in animal experiments.

Literature (biological)

Bostanchi et al. 2006, Disi 1990, Gasperetti 1988, Joger 1984, Latifi 1991, Mallow et al. 2003, Mendelssohn 1965, Mertens 1965, Minton 1966, 1992, Tiedemann et al. 1984, Wallach et al. 2014