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cerastes cerastes, L.
Ita: vipera cornuta
Eng: hornviper, sand horn viper
poison of the snake (prepared by Robert Müntz , Eisenstadt, Austria)
animalia, chordata/ vertrebrateas, vertebrata/ reptiles , reptilia/ serpentes, snakes/ viperidae
1996 Vienna, Uta Santos-Koenig
Description of the substance
The average length is 30-60 cm, with a maximum of 85 cm. Females are larger than males.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of this species are the supraorbital horns, one over each eye. However, these are either present, reduced in size or absent.
The color pattern consists of a yellowish, pale gray, pinkish or pale brown ground color that almost always matches the substrate color where the animal is found. Dorsally, a series of dark, semi-rectangular blotches run the length of the body. These may or may not be fused into crossbars. The belly is whitish and the tail may have a black tip.
They typically move by sidewinding or rectilinear locomotion. They are ambush predators, often burrowing into loose sand and laying submerged with little more than their eyes (and horns) poking out, waiting for a prey item, like a lizard or small rodent to happen by. C. cerastes is not a very aggressive species. When disturbed, it will either lie still or attempt a retreat. If threatened, they may assume a C-shaped posture rapidly rub their coils together. Having strongly keeled scales, this produces a rasping noise, similar to saw-scaled vipers, Echis. They can strike quickly.
In captivity, mating was observed in April and always occurred while the animals were buried in the sand. This species is oviparous, laying 8-23 eggs that hatch after 50 to 80 days of incubation. The eggs are laid under rocks and in abandoned rodent burrows. The hatchlings measure 12-15 cm in length.