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Venomous Reptiles – Newly Discovered Viper is an Endangered Species

B. nigroviridis

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by TimVickers

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Guifarro’s Palm Pit Viper (Bothriechis guifarroi), recently described as a new venomous reptile species in the journal Zookeys, may already be in danger of extinction.  In an attempt to draw attention to its plight, the newfound snake has been named after Mario Guifarro, a conservationist murdered for his work within its habitat.  Three other arboreal pit vipers have been uncovered in recent years (please see below)…each also faces an uncertain future.

I’ve had the good fortune of working with several Bothriechis species at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos.  Although somewhat similar in external appearance, each inhabits a unique habitat, or niche within a habitat, and they can teach us a great deal about how snakes evolve and partition resources.  Guifarro’s Palm Pit Viper is the 10th species to be included in the genus (the last to be described was B. thalassinus, in the year 2000), but I’m sure more await discovery.

Rare Species in a Threatened Habitat

A. ceratophora

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Al Coritz

Guifarro’s Palm Pit Viper inhabits northern Honduras’ highland cloud forest region. It is the 15th endemic species (animals found nowhere else) to be found in the area, which has now been designated as the Taxiguat Wildlife Refuge.  It is not known whether this snake occurred elsewhere in the past, as the surrounding forests have been largely destroyed to make way for cattle ranches and other uses.

Although similar in appearance to neighboring species, Guifarro’s Palm Pit Viper’s nearest relative actually resides in Costa Rica.  Further studies should reveal insights into how this group of snakes evolved into the similar but distinct species we know today.

Mario Guifarro, for whom the snake is named, was an outspoken critic of development in the region and supported the rights of the indigenous Tawahka people.  He was murdered him in 2007, apparently by opponents of his conservation activities.

Other Newly-Discovered Arboreal Vipers

Snake enthusiasts were pleased to learn of the recent discoveries of  brilliantly-colored arboreal vipers in Africa, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Nitche's Bush Viper

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Esquilo

Tanzania yielded Matilda’s Horned Viper, Atheris matildae, while the Ruby-Eyed Green Viper, Cryptelytrops rubeus and the Yellow-Eyed Green Viper, C. cardumonensi were uncovered in Southeast Asia.  Unfortunately, all face severe habitat loss and other threats.  Please see the articles linked below for further information on these and other new species and their unique habitats.

Please check out my posts on Twitter  and Facebook .   Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable.  I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.

Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly. 

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

 

Further Reading

Red and Yellow-Eyed Vipers Discovered

A New Black-and-Yellow Horned Viper from Tanzania

2 comments

  1. avatar

    Like crocs,while laying eggs(or giving birth to live young) do all reptiles undergo a trance-like state?

  2. avatar

    I’ve seen this with a many turtle species, ranging from painted Turtles to leatherbacks; not as common with live-bearers, as far as I know, best, frank

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About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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