Fine Art

Pseudocerastes persicus

Pseudocerastes persicus (Source)

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Infraordo: Caenophidia
Superfamilia: Viperoidea

Familia: Viperidae
Subfamilia: Viperinae
Genus: Pseudocerastes
Species: Pseudocerastes persicus

Pseudocerastes persicus (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854)

Type locality: Persia
Holotype: MNHN 4027, according to Golay et al. 1993: 277


Duméril, A.M.C., Bibron, G. & Duméril, A.H.A. 1854. Erpétologie générale ou histoire naturelle complète des reptiles. Tome septième. Deuxième partie, comprenant l'histoire des serpents venimeux. Librarie encyclopédique de Roret: Paris, France. i-xii + 781–1536 pp. BHL Reference page.

The Persian horned viper (Pseudocerastes persicus) is a species of venomous vipers endemic to the Middle East and Asia.


Adults averages between 40 to 70 cm (16 to 28 in) in total length (body + tail), with a maximum total length of 108 cm (43 in) being reported. Females are usually larger than males. These snakes can attain a considerable weight relative to their size, with specimens sometimes exceeding 500 g (1.1 lb).[3]

The head is broad, flat, distinct from the neck and covered with small, imbricate scales. The snout is short and rounded. The nostrils are positioned dorsolaterally and have valves. The nasal scale is unbroken. The rostral scale is small and wide. The eyes are medium in size with vertically elliptical pupils. There are 15-20 interocular scales and 15-20 circumorbitals. The supraorbital hornlike structure above each eye consists of small, imbricate scales and is also present in juveniles. There are 11-14 supralabials and 13-17 sublabials. 2-4 rows of small scales separate the supralabial scales from the suboculars.[3]

The body is covered with weakly to strongly keeled dorsal scales. On many of these, the keel terminates before the end of the scale and forms a bump. Many others form a point. At midbody, there are 21-25 scale rows, none of them oblique. There are 134-163 ventral scales and 35-50 paired subcaudals. The tail is short.[3]
Common names

Persian horned viper, false horned viper,[3] Persian horned desert viper,[4] eye-horned viper.[5]

The species name comes from where it is most usually found, Persia (present-day Iran), and the hornlike structures above its eyes.
Geographic range

Pseudocerastes persicus is found in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, northern Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and throughout Mesopotamia.[6]

The type locality is listed as "Perse" (= Persia).[2]

This species likes sandy (but not sand dune) or basalt and limestone rock desert and hill country, usually with some vegetation. It tends to avoid areas of human habitation.

These snakes are generally rather slow-moving and may employ various methods of locomotion, including sidewinding, serpentine, and rectilinear. They are also terrestrial and almost totally nocturnal, only being seen during the day or early evening during colder periods. It is not particularly aggressive, but will hiss loudly when disturbed. It is not capable of sinking into the sand vertically like Cerastes.[3] These feed mainly on lizards, small mammals, mice and occasionally small birds and arthropods, but will also eat dead food.

It is oviparous, and sexually mature females lay 11-21 eggs. When produced, these already contain well-developed embryos, each of which can be as much as 8.5 cm (3.3 in) in total length. As a result, they hatch after only 30–32 days at 31 °C and then measure 14.0 to 16.2 cm (5.5 to 6.4 in) in total length. They do well in captivity and are relatively easy to breed.[3][7]

Pseudocerastes persicus venom exhibits strong hemorrhagic activity typical of most vipers. No antivenom is available for bites from this subspecies, although it is reported that a polyvalent antiserum does offer some protection.[3][7]

Ananjeva, N., Nilson, G., Anderson, S.C., Andrén, C., Tok, V., Ugurtas, I., Sevinç, M., Böhme, W. & Crochet, P.-A. 2010. Pseudocerastes persicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T164640A5914734. Downloaded on 02 November 2018.
McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. 359 pp. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
Brown JH. 1973. Toxicology and Pharmacology of Venoms from Poisonous Snakes. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. 184 pp. LCCCN 73-229. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.
U.S. Navy. 1991. Poisonous Snakes of the World. United States Government. New York: Dover Publications Inc. 203 pp. ISBN 0-486-26629-X.

Spawls S, Branch B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Dubai: Ralph Curtis Books. Oriental Press. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.

Further reading

Boulenger GA. 1896. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume III., Containing the ... Viperidæ. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I.- XXV. (Genus Pseudocerastes and species Pseudocerastes persicus, p. 501).
Duméril A-M-C, Bibron G, Duméril A[HA]. 1854. Erpétologie générale ou histoire naturelle complète des reptiles. Tome septième. Deuxième partie. Comprenant l'histoire des serpents venimeux. (= General Herpetology or Complete Natural History of the Reptiles. Volume 7. Second Part. Containing the [Natural ] History of the Venomous Snakes). Paris: Roret. xii + pp. 781–1536. (Cerastes persicus, pp. 1443–1444).
Joger U. 1984. The venomous snakes of the Near and Middle East. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag. 175 pp.
Latifi M. 1991. The Snakes of Iran. Second Edition. Oxford, Ohio: Published by the Dept. of the Environment and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. 156 pp. ISBN 0-916984-22-2.
Marx H, Rabb GB. 1965. Relationships and Zoogeography of the Viperine Snakes (Family Viperidae). Fieldiana Zool. 44 (21): 162-206.
Mendelssohn H. 1965. On the biology of venomous snakes of Israel. Part II. Israeli Journal of Zoology 14: 185-212.
Obst FJ. 1983. Zur Kenntnis der Schlangengattung Vipera. (= On Knowledge of the Snake Genus Vipera). Zool. Abh. staatl. Mus. Tierkunde Dresden 38: 229-235.


Biology Encyclopedia

Reptiles Images

Retrieved from ""
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Home - Hellenica World