Eyelash Pit Viper
Bothriechis Schlegelii
By Daniel Stokkers

Yellow Eyelash pitviper head
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The Eyelash Palm Pit Viper is arguably one of the most beautiful snakes in the world. This venomous snake derives its name from the modified scales that protrude above each of its eyes like huge eyelashes. Names for this snake include: Eyelash Viper, Eyelash Pit Viper, Eyelash Mountain Viper, Schlegel's Viper, Schlegel's Palm Viper, Schlegel's Pit Viper, Eyelash Palm Pit Viper, and Horned Palm Viper. They are a slender arboreal snake normally found in shrubs or low-lying branches along waterways. A smaller species of snake, adult females are between 24 and 36 inches long with males being smaller and between 18 and 24 inches long. Because they are one of the smaller arboreal snakes, they make great displays in exhibits and wonderful additions to any vivarium. The Eyelash Viper ranges from as far south as Peru through Western Venezuela, Columbia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, and as far North as Southern Mexico. green eyelash viper
Photo Courtesy of Crotalus & Company

Eyelash Vipers are one of the most naturally variable colored snakes. Their base colors are predominantly green and yellow, however, red, gray and brown are also found. The markings on these snakes can also be quite variable with black speckling, green, pink, red or orange markings, and even patternless being possible. Currently, the hottest phase eyelash on the market today is the "Tiger Phase", which is a beautiful yellow ground color with green tiger banding.

christmas tree eyelash pit viper
Photo Courtesy of LaVibora
Tiger phase eyelash viper
Photo Courtesy of LaVibora
red eyelash pit viper
Photo Courtesy of Anjanette Buffalo
eyelash pitviper
Photo Courtesy of Daniel Stokkers

�� Habitat of the Eyelash Vipers consists of montane wet forest, cloud forest, and tropical wet and moist forests. This species primarily inhabits low to mid-elevations throughout most of its range. However, specimens have been found as high as 8200 feet above sea level. Specimens of these higher elevations are darker in color than snakes from lower elevations and have greenish blotches that are closer together. While they have been observed as high as 50 feet high in the trees, most are found within a meter or two of the ground. Primarily nocturnal, they are moving about and hunting mainly after dusk. Often perched on low-lying branches or palms, they will sit and wait for days to ambush prey items that pass by. Their diet in the wild consists primarily of frogs and lizards (mostly anoles), although reports of bats, birds and even a small opossum have been taken. eyelash viper habitat
Photo Courtesy of J. D. Willson

���� Keeping Eyelash Pit Vipers in captivity has increased in popularity in the past ten years. Why not; they are beautiful snakes, do well in captivity, and don't take up much room. While young snakes can be extremely demanding and difficult to get going, those with the patience will be rewarded with a great display snake. With proper housing and proper care, Eyelash Vipers have been known to live for 12 years or more in captivity. That being said, they are still venomous snakes and can be very dangerous. While no deaths from an eyelash bite have been recorded in first world countries, deaths have occurred. A bite from an Eyelash Viper would most definitely cause severe pain, possibly the loss of a finger, and thousands of dollars in medical bills. The proper training, housing, and handling techniques are required when dealing with any venomous reptile. reptile.

���� When keeping venomous snakes in captivity one of the most important aspects, if not the most important, is a secure enclosure. There are many options available these days from the standard aquarium to custom-built masterpieces. Whichever you choose you want it to be secure, with lockable doors being preferred. There are as many options for housing as there are people who keep them. All methods will have their positives and their negatives. For example, many prefer a more naturalistic vivarium setup with live plants that makes for a great display. The benefit of such a setup is that it is the most beautiful and will show off your Eyelash Viper nicely. However, there are drawbacks to these types of cages since they are more difficult to maintain and keep clean. Others prefer a more sterile enclosure. While this does not look as good, there are good reasons behind this. One such reasoning is that this type of enclosure will be easier to clean. One of the main reasons snakes die in captivity is due to dirty caging. Dirty cages increase the number of internal parasites and pathogens that will build up in your snake. Many argue that snakes in the wild are in a naturalistic setting and do well. However, you must realize that in the wild the snake has the freedom to move and is not constricted to a small area with its fecal matter. From one end of the spectrum to the other, and everything in between, the best setup is the one that works for you and your style. Cage Photo


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