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A large adder full of olfactory surprises

 

paffadder1

Bitis arietans photo © Johannes van Rooyen 

puff2

Bitis arietans photo © 4028mdk09 

 

The puffadder has been found to be odourless – even to the extremely sensitive noses of carnivores such as the domestic dog – when lying immobile. This scentlessness together with its camouflage makes the snake hard to detect – via olfaction as well as vision – by both prey and predator. However, an uninvestigated possibility is that the puffadder exhales strong-smelling air when it reacts to confrontation by puffing – shocking predatory mammals enough to give the snake time to escape. This might explain why the puffing sound after which the species is named seems too soft to do justice to the lethal hazard of the puffadder’s bite.

 

Robin and the Honey Badger, 22 March 2016

 

snakeymcsnakeson

 

Bitis arietans photo © Julius Rückert 

 

                                            

 

                                          

 

 

i.e. more intensely pigmented than the normal colour-morp
Last modified on 15 November 2016

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