Schlegel's Viper: The Viper of a Thousand Colors

May 9, 2023
Vipère de Schlegel bleue verte violette

Naturally distributed from Mexico to Peru, the Schlegel's Viper, also known as the Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii), is a species of snake that exhibits almost infinite color combinations.

These vipers are ambush predators, and their environment plays a crucial role in their coloration. For example, yellow Schlegel's vipers are often found near banana plantations. They camouflage themselves near the fruits to prey on bats that come to feed on them. This principle also applies to red individuals that conceal themselves around bromeliads, or green individuals that blend perfectly into the vegetation.

Vipère de Schlegel jaune
© Tico's Wild Studio

Within the same litter, juvenile Schlegel's vipers can have completely different colorations from one another, unrelated to the color of their parents.

Arboreal and primarily nocturnal, young individuals generally stay close to the ground where they feed on small reptiles and amphibians, which they attract by waving the tip of their tail as a lure. Adults, on the other hand, can be found higher up in the canopy, up to 35 meters above the ground, where they feed on larger prey, primarily birds and mammals.

Vipère de Schlegel rouge et blanche

Another distinctive feature of the Schlegel's Viper is the presence of "eyelashes," or rather a set of scales above their eyes. According to a theory, these "eyelashes" help clear vines, leaves, and branches from the snake's eyes, preventing damage as it moves through its environment.

Vipère de Schlegel brune
© Tico's Wild Studio

In Costa Rica, the Schlegel's Viper can be observed in several locations throughout the country, particularly in Cahuita National Park, where this species is particularly abundant.

There is no doubt that this viper is one of the most beautiful snakes in the world!