Spot the snake!

Matthew Cobb keeps an eye out for cases of “spot the. . ” mimicry, and here’s one:

I love the scientific name: “Bitis peninguey“, and it is indeed venomous. I like the Wikipedia note: “An ambush hunter, it buries itself just beneath the surface of the sand with only its eyes and the tip of its tail exposed (individuals with black tail-tips employ caudal luring). When prey happens by, it is seized and envenomated.” I didn’t know the word “envenomated,” but now I do. 

And here it is in action, capturing a lizard in Namibia after drinking condensed water off its own skin!


  1. Posted June 10, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    What does it consider prey? And how venomous is that bite?

  2. Mark R.
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I see them reptilian eyes.

    Cool video…the sidewinding is mesmerizing.

  3. rickflick
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to guess that it’s not much of a threat to humans. It would not go after something that big. Would it?

    • komponist1
      Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      It’s only 8 to 10 inches long and has a weak venom that doesn’t require antivenin.

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I think it should be envenomed. Envenomated sounds the sort of word I make up when trying to be funny.

  5. Heather Hastie
    Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Wow! The strike in the video took me completely by surprise!

    • Colin McLachlan
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      Not as surprised as the lizard!

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Ha! Good point! 🙂

  6. Posted June 10, 2017 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    There’s a lot of convergent evolution going on here too.

    Sidewinder rattlesnake and fringe-toed lizard of SW US sand dunes are remarkably similar in general morphology & behavior to this snake and lizard of African dunes, though doubtless only distantly related. Someone must have studied this at some point.

    • nicky
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 1:52 am | Permalink

      Yes, there are even more than two groups of snakes that practice sidewinding. Saharan horned viper, Sidewinder rattle snake and also the South East asian watersnakes, who use it in mud flats.
      I haven’t a clue how many species use it, but there is definitely some convergence. It is also said that many snakes that do not usually sidewind, attempt it -with varying degrees of success- when put on a slippery surface.

  7. boggy
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Pre the Fall of Man, that snake was eating vegetable matter and walking on four legs.

    • Peter N
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      …and could talk!

      • boggy
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        Don’t be ridiculous.

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