Persian One-Horned Viper or False Horned Viper, Persian Two-Horned
persicus, Pseudocerastes bicornis
wala afi (Urdu)|
snake is deadly poisonous. The
venom is moderately to highly hemorrhagic|
Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes persicus)
Photo Credit: L. Trutnau
and sub species:
Pseudocerastes is represented in Pakistan by one species and one subspecies:
average adult length of this snake is 0.5 to 0.7 meters; maximum length
0.9 meters. Males are larger than females. Snake wide relative to its
length. Head short, wide, quite distinct from neck. Snout blunt, with
small scale-covered horns just above eyes. A dark brown band marks side
of head just around eye. Eyes are small to moderate size, pupils are
elliptical vertically. Nostrils located dorsolaterally present. Dorsal
coloration pale gray or bluish gray to khaki with gray or brownish gray
blotches or crossbands, usually much narrower than the interspace
between them. Throat and body sides have alternating faint spots.
Ventral side white, tail black, narrow in relation to body.
Pseudocerastes persicus: A supraorbital horn on each side of head
formed by several scales; body moderately stout, dorsoventrally
flattened; 16—18 circumocular scales; 12-14 supralabials, separated
from eye by three rows of scales; 14-17 infralabials; single pair of
genials; dorsal scales thin, weakly keeled, 23-25 rows at midbody,
laterals with nodular prominences at posterior end; ventrals 146-151,
subcaudals 42—46. Dorsum pale gray or bluish gray to khaki. A median
series of 28 to 33 rectangular gray or brownish blotches or cross-bands,
much narrower than interspaces. An alternating series of faint spots on
sides. A dark band from nostril to the angle of jaw, lower edges of
labials white. Belly white, tip of tail dark, mesially pinkish.
Snout-vent length 670-688 mm, tail 79-85 mm.
bicornis: All what we have now as type specimen of this viper,
preserved in British Museum of Natural History London, under registry
number 1918.104.22.168, a viperid head with 2-3 head lengths of anterior
part of body, up to 31 ventral, rest of the body apparently is lost. The
two elongated, free, supraocular scales of P. bicornis, were erected in
life as a pair of supraocular horns on each side.
dark form of P. persicus, showing the distinct horns
above the eyes
Photo Credit: D. Modry
snake is nocturnal
in habits, retreating during day in crevices among rocks or burrows in
comparatively hard soil near roots of bushes. It is sluggish, placid,
less likely to bite during day, dangerously active and aggressive at
night. When disturbed, will hiss loudly but is not particularly vicious.
Snake's locomotion characteristically sidewinding. Frequently will hide
in rodents tunnels and underneath rocks.
consists of deserticolous lizards and arthropods. Breeding from March
snake inhabits sandy and rocky terrain up to elevations of approximately
2,000 meters. Has been found at 1,500 meters elevations in Iran and
Baluchistan. Found in flat, sandy regions with desert vegetation, in
rocky areas in burrows and crevices. Its customary habitat is desert
persicus is found in southern Afghanistan; in Pakistan, west of the
Kirthar and Sulaiman ranges as far north as 32 degrees N; Iran, in the
extreme northeast, in the Zagros Mountains in the southwest, in the
eastern, central, and southern parts of the country except in the high
mountains and the desert regions of Dashte Lut; in the far north.
bicornis has only been recorded from Khajuri Kach, above Gwaleri
Kolal, Gomal Pass, Waziristan, Pakistan.
Pseudocerates bicornis ()
Credit: Dr. Muhammad Sharif Khan
Guide to The Snakes of Pakistan, Muhammad Sharif Khan, Edition
Chimaira Frankfurt am Main 2002
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