Rare viper survives wildfire in western Iran

October 9, 2016

TEHRAN — Spider-tailed horned viper, a rare viper endemic to western Iran, survived wildfires in Saravan forests in Gilan-e Gharb, Kermanshah province, IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

In the wildfire breaking out at 7 p.m. on Thursday the viper which was spotted for the first time in the region survived with the help of the people and rangers and was released into the wild again after extinguishing the fire, Gilan-e Gharb department of environment director said.

The reptile which is quite rare and extremely poisonous has been so far spotted in Mehran, Ilam province, and just recently (after the fire) it was found in Gilan-e Gharb as well, Fariborz Basati added.

Spider-tailed horned viper has one of the most unusual tail adaptations in the snake world. The tail appendage, which at first might look like a deformity, is designed to look like a spider. Its purpose isn't to make the snake seem extra terrifying, but rather, to act as a lure. When the viper rattles it, arachnid-eating prey are attracted and drawn into striking range.

Saravan forest area is stretching over 6,000 hectares of land and is considered as one of the pristine regions in Iran. Since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2016) the forest has caught fire for 18 times causing more than 480 hectares to burn and incurred some 23 billion rials (nearly $66,000) loss to the area.

MQ/MG

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