Lachesis (Daudin, 1803)
Lachesis is a genus of venomous pitvipers found in remote forested areas of Central and South America. The generic name refers to one of the Three Fates in Greek mythology who determined the length of the thread of life. Three species are currently recognized.
Adults vary in length from 2 to 2.5 m (6.5 to 8.25 ft), although some may grow to as much as 3 m (10 ft). The largest known specimen was just under 3.65 m (12 ft), making it the longest venomous snake in the Western Hemisphere. This is also the longest viper, though not the heaviest (it is surpassed by the gaboon viper and the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake). The bushmaster's tail ends with a horny spine which it sometimes vibrates when disturbed in a similar manner to rattlesnakes. This led to some calling it 'the mute rattlesnake'.
Found in Central and South America. Also found on the island of Trinidad.
Bushmasters lay eggs: about a dozen in an average clutch. The female reportedly remains with her eggs during incubation and may aggressively defend the nest if approached. The hatchlings average 30 cm in length and are more colorful than the adults. Lachesis is thought to be unique among New World pit vipers in laying eggs rather than giving birth to live young, although some evidence suggests that the species Bothrocophias colombianus found in Colombia may do the same .
One of the largest and most dangerous snakes in South America, this snake is capable of multiple- bite strikes and the injection of large amounts of venom. Even the bite of a juvenile specimen can be fatal.
*) Not including the nominate subspecies.
Campbell and Lamar (2004) also recognize a fourth species, L. acrochorda (García, 1896), referring to it as the Chochoan bushmaster. It is found in western Panama and northwestern Colombia and Ecuador. Its evolutionary relationships are not certain, but Lachesis acrochorda is thought to be closer to the South American bushmaster L. muta than to the two Central American species L. stenophrys and L. melanocephala.
The bushmaster snake is the antagonist in the tenth show of the old time radio show Escape. The show's title was "A Shipment of Mute Fate", and starred Jack Webb and Raymond Lawrence. It was broadcast on 15 October 1947. The story was also adapted for Suspense starring Jack Kelly, broadcast on January 6, 1957. The bushmaster is referenced in the film Romancing the Stone.
1. ^ a b c McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
* Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License