Mark O'Shea's new softback edition
Venomous Snakes of the World. Also his Dangerous Snakes of Papua New Guinea stamp issue
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DK Handbook to Reptiles and Amphibians. Visit the
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WEST AFRICAN CARPET VIPER Echis ocellatus
The West African carpet viper is the most dangerous snake in Africa, responsible for more serious snakebites and deaths than any other species, and it is a strong candidate for the title of most dangerous snake in the world. Although not a large snake (300-500mm) its venom is extremely toxic and it is common around human habitations, often occurring in large numbers. It is the only carpet viper from the ten species occurring across N.Africa, the Middle East and Asia, to enter woodland and bite firewood collectors.
Its prey consists of rodents, lizards and large insects. Unusually for vipers, carpet vipers lay eggs. Carpet vipers are also known as saw-scale vipers after the warning sound caused by rubbing their serrated scales together. The specimens in this exhibit are on loan from a snakebite research project at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, a close collaborator with West Midland Safari Park and one of the foremost venom research units in the world.
This species may be moved to the ARID ZONE since it is really an inhabitant of dry woodland and savanna.
W.Africa (southern Mali, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, northern Cameroon, and western Central African Republic and Chad).
click on the images to enlarge them
Habitat: Arid Sahel between the Sahara and W.African rainforest
W.African carpet vipers have large white ocelli markings
The concentric curves of the continually moving body create a sawing sound as the serrated scales rub together
Carpet vipers bite with a short, rapid, jabbing strike