The spider-tailed horned viper has a unique tail that has a bulb-like end and bordered by long drooping scales that give it the appearance of a spider. The tail tip is waved around and used to lure insectivorous birds within striking range.


The spider-tailed horned viper has a unique tail that has a bulb-like end and bordered by long drooping scales that give it the appearance of a spider. The tail tip is waved around and used to lure insectivorous birds within striking variety.


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About the Author: livescience

3 Comments

  1. [Here is a longer video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CjtQOc9euU) to get a better view of the tail and how it moves.

    Spider-tailed vipers’ scientific name *Pseudocerastes urarachnoides* translates from Greek to “fake horned with a spider-like tail.” [Here is a close-up photo of the tail.]( http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/files/2019/04/Spider-tailed-Viper.jpg)

    They are native to western Iran and pretty new to science. They were first published about in 2006! It’s awesome we are still discovering larger animals.

    Their method of prey luring is called a *caudal lure*. This is when a predator’s tail resembles the prey of another animal. There are a few other examples of mostly juvenile pit vipers (Family Viperidae, subfamily [Crotalinae](https://www.britannica.com/animal/pit-viper)) and juvenile boas and pythons using caudal lures though the spider-tailed pit viper is pretty extreme and interesting because they retain this behavior into adulthood.

    For example, copperhead ([*Agkistrodon contortrix*](https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-snakes/list/agkistrodon-contortrix-contortrix/)) juveniles have yellow tail tips and will wiggle them to mimic grubs/maggots ([Photo](http://herpsofnc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Agkistrodon-contortrix-juv1-Eric-Stine-Mecklenburg-Co-NC-copy.jpg)) ([Neil, 1960](https://www.jstor.org/stable/24314668?seq=1/subjects)). Sahara sand vipers (*Cerastes vipera*) bury themselves, keeping their heads up and their lure tails wiggling to attract prey ([here’s a video of one burying itself](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNSAXbsUWrc)). Emerald green tree boa ([*Corallus caninus*](https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/203208/2762180)) juveniles have blueish tails they use as lures ([video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUiNvl_frGs&feature=youtu.be)). Lots of tail lures happening in snakes!

    If you’d like to know more about the spider-tailed viper Discover Magazine has an article worth reading [*Meet the Snake That Hunts Birds With a Spider On Its Tail*](http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2019/04/16/spider-tailed-viper-caudal-luring/#.XVVzHOhKiUk). If you are interested in the published research from 2006, [*A new species of Pseudocerastes with elaborate tail ornamentation from western Iran (Squamata: Viperidae)*](https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228988036_A_new_species_of_Pseudocerastes_with_elaborate_tail_ornamentation_from_western_Iran_Squamata_Viperidae).

    **Abstract:**

    >A new species of viper,
    Pseudocerastes urarachnoides
    , is described from the Zagros
    Mountains in western Iran. The new species has a short tail, few pairs of subcaudals
    (15 in the known specimens), the distal pairs forming an oval knob-like structure; lat-
    eral dorsal caudal scales projected to form elongate “appendages” along the sides of
    the terminal knob. Several rows of lateral dorsal scales are weakly keeled and outer
    rows are only faintly keeled. We speculate that the caudal appendage may serve as a
    lure for prey in an ambush predator.

  2. The video os amazing. In particular, the slight longer and higher resolution version of the scene above.

    The gif you added is almost indecipherable. Looks like a spider(?) crawling on a rock, but then a head moves toward a wing flap for 2 frames??

    Cool info, but the gif does not convey it.

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