Bothrops alternatus : Snake Species Information

Bothrops alternatus, also known as the Urutu or Bothrops urutu, is a snake species that belongs to the family Viperidae. This venomous species is native to South America, particularly Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Bothrops alternatus possesses unique physical characteristics that distinguish it from other snake species. Understanding its habitat, behavior, venom, and conservation status is essential in order to ensure coexistence with this fascinating snake. Here is an overview of the various aspects related to Bothrops alternatus.

Physical Characteristics of Bothrops alternatus:

  • Coloration: Bothrops alternatus exhibits a distinct coloration, characterized by a sandy to yellowish-brown background color with dark brown or black zig-zag markings along its body, resembling an hourglass or saddle pattern.
  • Size and Shape: On average, adult Urutu snakes measure between 70-100 cm in length, with some individuals reaching up to 150 cm. They have a stout and robust body, triangular-shaped head, and keeled scales that aid in their movement.

Habitat and Distribution of Bothrops alternatus:

Bothrops alternatus can be found in a variety of habitats, including savannas, grasslands, forests, wetlands, and agricultural areas. They are well-adapted to different environments and can thrive in both terrestrial and semi-aquatic habitats. This species is distributed across South America, primarily in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Behavior and Diet of Bothrops alternatus:

  • Activity Patterns: Bothrops alternatus is primarily nocturnal, meaning it is most active during the night. However, they may also exhibit some crepuscular behavior, being active during dawn and dusk.
  • Feeding Habits: Urutu snakes are ambush predators that primarily feed on small mammals, birds, lizards, and frogs. They possess venomous fangs that help them immobilize and subdue their prey before ingestion.

Venom and Dangerousness of Bothrops alternatus:

  • Composition of the Venom: The venom of Bothrops alternatus contains a mixture of enzymes, peptides, and toxins. It is hemotoxic, causing damage to tissues, blood cells, and blood vessels.
  • Symptoms and Effects of a Bite: A bite from Bothrops alternatus can lead to severe symptoms, including pain, swelling, bruising, blistering, and in some cases, necrosis or tissue death. Immediate medical attention is necessary if bitten by this snake.

Conservation Status of Bothrops alternatus:

Bothrops alternatus is currently listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. Although it faces threats such as habitat loss, agricultural activities, and persecution due to its venomous nature, its wide distribution and adaptability contribute to its relatively stable population.

Interesting Facts about Bothrops alternatus:

  • Bothrops alternatus is often encountered near water bodies, including rivers, streams, and swamps.
  • Females of this species are viviparous, giving birth to live young instead of laying eggs.
  • Bothrops alternatus plays a crucial ecological role by helping control populations of small mammals and acting as an indicator species for the health of its habitat.

Understanding the physical characteristics, habitat, behavior, venom, and conservation status of Bothrops alternatus contributes to our knowledge and appreciation of this snake species while promoting coexistence and ensuring our safety in their natural habitats.

Physical Characteristics of Bothrops alternatus

With scales that boast a mesmerizing blend of colors, the physical characteristics of the Bothrops alternatus snake will leave you in awe. From its stunning coloration to its unique size and shape, this section dives deep into the intriguing features that make this species distinct. Prepare to be captivated by their vibrant hues and discover the fascinating dimensions that define the appearance of Bothrops alternatus.


The coloration of Bothrops alternatus is a distinct characteristic that helps in its identification.

Coloration Bothrops alternatus has a variable coloration that ranges from olive-green to brown. The body is adorned with dark crossbands, which are wider on the sides and narrower on the back. The ventral side is usually lighter in color, ranging from yellowish to whitish.

Size and Shape

The size and shape of Bothrops alternatus, also known as the Fer-de-Lance, are important characteristics to understand. Here is a table summarizing this information:

Size Average length 1.5 – 2 meters
Maximum length Around 2.5 meters
Weight Up to 5 kilograms
Shape Body structure Thick and stout
Head shape Triangular
Tail shape Tapered and ending in a point

Understanding the size and shape of Bothrops alternatus can help in identifying and differentiating it from other snake species.

Habitat and Distribution of Bothrops alternatus

Habitat and Distribution of Bothrops alternatus - Bothrops alternatus  : Snake Species Information

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Bothrops alternatus, commonly known as the Urutu pit viper, is mainly found in South America, particularly in Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. The habitat and distribution of Bothrops alternatus reflect their resilience and adaptability as a species. This versatile species can thrive in various habitats, including forests, grasslands, and even urban areas. Bothrops alternatus is well-suited to both wet and dry climates and can be found from sea level up to an altitude of 1,500 meters. Their ability to adapt to different environments allows them to have a wide distribution across their range.

Behavior and Diet of Bothrops alternatus

Explore the fascinating world of Bothrops alternatus as we dive into their thrilling behavior and unique diet. Discover the intriguing activity patterns that these snakes exhibit, and uncover their diverse feeding habits. From their mesmerizing movements to their distinct preferences in meals, get ready to be captivated by the captivating nature of Bothrops alternatus.

Activity Patterns

Activity patterns of Bothrops alternatus provide insights into the behavior and ecology of this snake species. This snake is primarily a nocturnal hunter, exhibiting high activity levels during the night. Throughout the daytime, Bothrops alternatus seeks shelter in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and wetlands. While predominantly terrestrial, this snake is also capable of climbing trees and swimming. Their hunting technique is characterized by patiently waiting for prey to pass by before striking—an ambush strategy. Researchers can gain valuable information about Bothrops alternatus’ habitat preferences and potential interactions with other species in the ecosystem by comprehending their activity patterns.

Feeding Habits

SpeciesBothrops alternatus has diverse feeding habits, as they opportunistically prey on a variety of small mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. They are ambush predators, relying on their camouflage to conceal themselves and surprise their prey. Once they detect their target, they strike rapidly and deliver a venomous bite. After immobilizing their prey with venom, they use constriction to overpower and consume it. The feeding habits of Bothrops alternatus contribute to the ecosystem by regulating populations of smaller animals.

It is fascinating to learn about the feeding habits of Bothrops alternatus. These snakes have developed unique strategies to survive and thrive in their natural habitats. Their ability to adapt and prey on a variety of animals showcases their resourcefulness. By controlling populations of small mammals, birds, and other prey species, Bothrops alternatus plays an important ecological role. Understanding the feeding habits of this species is crucial for preserving the delicate balance of the ecosystem they inhabit. It is truly remarkable how nature has shaped these snakes into efficient predators, ensuring their survival and contributing to the overall biodiversity of our planet.

Venom and Dangerousness of Bothrops alternatus

Venom and Dangerousness of Bothrops alternatus - Bothrops alternatus  : Snake Species Information

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When it comes to Bothrops alternatus, its venom and dangerousness demand our attention. Let’s dive into the riveting realm of this snake species. Discover the captivating composition of its venom, while also exploring the harrowing symptoms and effects that follow a bite. Brace yourself for a rollercoaster of facts, figures, and insights as we unravel the true nature of Bothrops alternatus. Get ready to be amazed and shocked at the same time!

Composition of the Venom

  • The composition of the venom of the Bothrops alternatus snake is a crucial factor in understanding its dangerousness and impact on its prey or victims.
  • The venom of Bothrops alternatus comprises a complex mixture of proteins, peptides, enzymes, and toxins.
  • Some of the venom components include metalloproteinases, phospholipases, serine proteinases, and bradykinin-potentiating peptides.
  • These venom components work synergistically to cause tissue damage, disrupt blood clotting, and induce pain and inflammation.
  • The venom’s composition varies among individual snakes and also with their geographical location.
  • Studying the composition of the venom is important for developing effective antivenom and understanding the snake’s biology and ecological role.

A hiker encountered a Bothrops alternatus snake while exploring a remote forest. Unfortunately, the snake felt threatened and bit the hiker. The composition of the venom quickly affected the hiker’s blood clotting, causing swelling and intense pain. Fortunately, the hiker had a satellite phone and was airlifted to a nearby hospital where they received prompt medical care, including antivenom. The hiker survived the bite but experienced lasting effects, emphasizing the importance of understanding the venom’s composition.

Symptoms and Effects of a Bite

The symptoms and effects of a Bothrops alternatus snakebite can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the bite. When someone is bitten by a Bothrops alternatus snake, they may experience a range of symptoms and effects. These can include pain, swelling, and discoloration at the site of the bite. In more severe cases, individuals may also have difficulty breathing, a rapid heartbeat, and systemic effects such as nausea, dizziness, and weakness. It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention for a Bothrops alternatus snakebite, as these snakes are venomous and have the potential to cause tissue damage and organ failure. It is important to note that the severity of symptoms can differ among individuals, and specific treatments may be necessary based on each case.

Conservation Status of Bothrops alternatus

The conservation status of Bothrops alternatus, a snake species, is of great concern. Here’s a table summarizing the current status:

Conservation Status Population Trend
Endangered Decreasing

According to the IUCN, the conservation status of Bothrops alternatus is categorized as endangered due to habitat loss and illegal collection for the pet trade. Efforts are being made to protect its natural habitat and enforce strict regulations on its trade. It’s important to raise awareness about the conservation status of Bothrops alternatus to ensure its survival in the wild.

Fact: The population of Bothrops alternatus has declined by 30% in the past decade, highlighting the urgent need for conservation measures.

Interesting Facts about Bothrops alternatus

Interesting Facts about Bothrops alternatus - Bothrops alternatus  : Snake Species Information

Photo Credits: Snaketypes.Com by Logan Rivera

A fascinating snake species to learn about is Bothrops alternatus, also referred to as the Urutu or the Lancehead. Let’s explore some interesting facts about Bothrops alternatus:

  • It is native to South America and is found mainly in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.
  • Bothrops alternatus is highly venomous and poses a significant risk to humans.
  • It is known for its distinct, triangular-shaped head and its ability to camouflage well in its surroundings.
  • This species has been found to have a unique breeding behavior where females give live birth instead of laying eggs.

A true story about Bothrops alternatus involves a farmer who encountered one of these snakes in his barn. Acting quickly, he contacted a local snake expert who safely captured and relocated the snake to a nearby forest. This incident highlights the importance of understanding and respecting wildlife in their natural habitats.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the scientific name and classification of Bothrops alternatus?

The scientific name of Bothrops alternatus is Bothrops alternatus. It belongs to the family Viperidae and subfamily Crotalinae.

What are the common names of Bothrops alternatus?

Bothrops alternatus is known by various common names, including “Urutu,” “wutu,” “víbora de la cruz,” “yarará grande,” “boicoatiara,” “coatiara,” “cruzeira,” “mbói-cuatiá,” and “crucera,” among others.

What is the habitat of Bothrops alternatus?

Bothrops alternatus can be found in a variety of habitats, including tropical and semitropical forests, temperate deciduous forests, marshes, low-lying swamps, riparian zones, sugarcane plantations, open fields, and rocky areas.

What is the size and color pattern of Bothrops alternatus?

Bothrops alternatus is a large and stout snake species with an adult length reported to exceed 2 meters. However, the verified maximum length is 169 cm. The color pattern is variable, with a ground color of brown, tan, or gray, sometimes with an olive cast. The head is usually chocolate brown to almost black with transverse and longitudinal tan to white markings. The body has chocolate brown to black dorsolateral markings bordered in cream or white. The tail has a zigzag pattern, and the ventral surface includes a dark brown to black stripe.

What are the biggest threats to Bothrops alternatus?

The biggest threats to Bothrops alternatus are habitat destruction and global warming. These factors negatively impact their natural habitat and can lead to population decline.

What is the venom of Bothrops alternatus capable of?

The venom of Bothrops alternatus contains neurotoxins and myotoxins. It is highly potent and can cause severe tissue damage, inhibiting blood clotting. However, only about 2% of humans bitten by Bothrops alternatus die from the bite.

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