Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pit Vipers with “Sixth” sense.
Some snakes have infrared vision also called “heat vision,” the infrared rays, which have longer wavelengths than those of visible light, signify the presence of warm-blooded prey in 3 dimensions, which helps snakes aim their attacks. Pit vipers possess this ability; have heat-sensitive membranes that can detect the difference in temperature between a moving prey - such as a running mouse.
The detection system, which consists of cavities located on each side of the head called “pit organs,” operates on a principle similar to that of a pinhole camera. A pinhole camera is a camera without a lens, where light from an image passes through a very small hole. Similarly, a pit organ’s aperture is about 1 mm—large enough to allow the snake to quickly detect moving prey. In pit vipers, which have only two pit holes (one in front of each eye), a block of about 1,600 sensory cells lie on a membrane which has a field of view of about 100 degrees. This means the snake’s brain would receive an image resolution of about 2.5 degrees for point like objects, such as eyes, which are one of the hottest points on mammals. This head of Bamboo pit viper shows a nostril, pit hole and eye (right to left). This is one of the poisonous snakes found near us. The Bamboo Pit Viper is a pale green snake with faint, uneven black patterns on the back. The head is wide and triangular, set on a thin delicate neck. Actually this type of head is found in all types of Vipers and is one of the identification keys. This snake’s eyes are with golden iris and a black vertical pupil. This snake prefers living in vines, bushes and bamboo. Bamboo Pit Viper are slow moving snake and nocturnal. They rely on camouflage for protection. Although slow to defend themselves, they are capable of fast strikes and bites if disturbed. The food of this snake consists small mammals like rodents, lizards, birds and frogs. The female give birth to 4 or 5 living young. This is also Viper specialty as other snakes lay eggs. These Bamboo Pit Vipers are small in size near about 75 to 80 cms in adults. Their venom is low in toxicity, so that bites are rarely serious.
Yuwaraj Gurjar.

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