Macmahon's or Leaf Nosed Viper
snake is deadly poisonous. Less dangerous because
of small size, but has caused serious envenomation
and, reportedly, has caused deaths|
Viper (Eristicophis macmahonii)
Photo Credit: Dr. Muhammad Sharif Khan
and sub species:
Eristicophis is represented in Pakistan by one species:
average length of this snake is 0.6 meters. Head large, flattened, quite
distinct from neck. Snout broad, short. Eye size moderate, pupils
vertically elliptical. Nostrils slit-like. Body stout, strongly
flattened along side of back, abruptly tapering tail; skin soft and
loose. Crown covered by small scales. A narrow whitish line runs from
above eye to angle of mouth; scattered dark flecks on top of head.
Dorsal base color light tan to khaki, with a series of 20 to 25 small
black lateral spots each surrounded partly or completely by group of
smaller cream spots. Young snakes have series of about 30 darker brown
dorsal crossbands. All markings are more distinct toward the rear. Base
of tail has distinct crossbands, tips unmarked, yellowish.
Rostral scale much broader than high, crescent-like, deeply concave, surmounted on sides by a butterfly's wing-like, free edged, broad scale;.
16—25 circumocular scales; 15—16 supralabials, forming cirrated dorsal lip,
separated from eye by three rows of scales, about twice as large as those of the ocular
ring; 23-29 scales at midbody, arranged in straight regular rings; ventrals 140-145, with lateral keels; anal scale single.
Dorsum light reddish brown to khaki, with a series of small, dark brown lateral
spots, each surrounded in its upper half by light dots. A thin light line from
eye to angle of mouth. Base of tail with brown crossbands. Ventrum white.
Snout-vent length 645-660 mm, tail length 63-72 mm.
Viper (Eristicophis macmahonii), showing distinct
Photo Credit: L. Trutnau
Active during twilight and at night. Found in fine loose sand where they
bury themselves leaving the snout and eyes free of sand. Snake's scales
designed for sand burrowing. This snake rapidly sinks in sand by peculiar
rocking and peristaltic movements of its body. Sand-sinking is an escape as well
defensive behavior of this snake. It also ambushes its prey by lying buried in sand.
Nocturnal, alert and ill tempered snake. In danger, it rolls itself in a pile of coils,
lying above each other, elevating head considerably above ground, neck is
thrown in S-shaped coil (in the same manner of some rattlesnakes), eyes are keenly focused on the victim, ready to attack. The snake
hisses loudly, and strikes vigorously. Less dangerous because of small
size, but has caused serious envenomation and, reportedly, has caused
Breeding appears to take place from March to May.
Diet consists of sand
lizards and arthropods. The snake keeps itself buried in sand, with only exposed eyes and nostrils, as soon a prey approaches, it strikes,
retaining its hold until the prey is almost dead.
snake is morphologically adapted to live in fine loose sand of shifting
dunes, where they bury themselves leaving the snout and eyes free of
sand. Its habitat is without any mentionable vegetation, except for very sparse
growth of stunted bushes and grasses.
snake is found almost exclusively on sand dunes and at elevations less
than 1,200 meters. Restricted to desert basin regions of western
Baluchistan, southwestern Afghanistan, and southeastern Iran.
Recorded from Seistan in the extreme east in Iran extending into southern Afghanistan
south of the Halmand River, and into southwest Baluchistan, between Chagai hills and Siahn Range, east
Credit: Dr. Muhammad Sharif Khan
Snakes of the Middle East (Identification Guide), Defence
Intelligence Document, U.S Defence Intelligence Agency
Muhammad Sharif Khan, Herpetological Lab Rabwah, Pakistan
Wildlife of Pakistan-All Rights