Slip­pery Cus­tomer

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Snapshot - Namib Desert, Namibia PHOTO: ALAMY

If you find your­self wan­der­ing through the vast deserts of Namibia, watch where you put your feet! The Peringuey adder, also known as Bi­tis peringueyi, spends much of its time buried un­der the sand. As an am­bush preda­tor, the snake needs to re­main un­seen, and the sand pro­vides the per­fect cam­ou­flage.

Dr Brian Crother from South­east­ern Louisiana Univer­sity says: “The desert adder bur­rows into the sand, leav­ing its eyes, that sit on top of his head, and its black-tipped tail ex­posed. The black tail tip is gen­tly waved about and used as a lure to bring lizards [its prey] within strik­ing dis­tance.”

As a desert-dweller, the snake has a num­ber of adap­ta­tions to sur­vive in the harsh en­vi­ron­ment. First, it can travel us­ing a form of lo­co­mo­tion called ‘sidewind­ing’, where just two points of its body are in con­tact with the sand at a time. This al­lows it to move quickly across loose ter­rain, and re­duces con­tact with the hot sand. Sec­ond, wa­ter from morn­ing fog con­denses on its body, which it then drinks.

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