In the previous post we wrote about the serpents in the wilderness. Our photo today shows a Persian horned viper that we saw at the Hai Bar Reserve north of Eilat.
Persian Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes persicus)
This venomous snake of the viper family has a thick and clumsy body that can reach a maximum length of 90 cm. A ground-dweller, it prefers sandy areas, especially in desert wadies in a rocky landscape. The Persian horned viper is mainly nocturnal. Above each eye is a small protrusion in the form of a horn, made of scales.
This snake feeds on rodents, birds, and even animal carcasses. The young feed on lizards. It emits a warning sound by blowing through its mouth.
Distribution in Israel: in the Negev, between Dimona, Sede Boker and Yotvata. it is common in Makhtesh Ramon and its nearby wadies.
Global distribution: from the deserts of Pakisan to Sinai. It is interesting that the snake has a pit at the opening of its nostril. it is not known whether the pit is part of a valve system to protect the nostril from dust or whether it conceals a special sensory organ.
In Jacob’s last words describing his sons, he speaks of Dan:
Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that his rider falls backward. (Genesis 49:17 ESV)
The Hebrew lexicon by Holladay says the word viper in this verse means a “horned snake.” BDB and TWOT likewise. The NAU version is the only popular one that I check regularly that includes the word horned.
For information about the Palestinian Viper (Vipera palestinae) see here.