Humans innately have a fear of things that could hurt them – that’s why a lot of people don’t like spiders, bugs and especially snakes. But trust us, the best way to overcome the fear is to face it.
This is Croatia`s venomous snake – the nose-horned viper (Croatian “Poskok”), a potentially dangerous but also very pretty animal, that many people encounter in the wild.
It is easy to differentiate them from any other snake with their dorsal zig-zag pattern across, and the small soft horn atop their snout. They move relatively slowly because they are very confident in their camouflage/warning pattern. Usually, they warn you with a loud hiss that you are too close.
Graduate student Katarina Terlević recently photographed these nose-horned vipers in Lika, near the Korenica Municipality. The latin name of this species is Vipera ammodytes (Linnaeus, 1758) belonging to the Viperidae family. They, like other snakes in Croatia, are a legally strictly protected species. In Lika, they grow up to 90 cm, which is surprisingly large since the average size is 60-80 cm.
The snakes were photographed for the purpose of exploring their biology, for Katarina’s graduation thesis and her mentor’s PhD thesis, and to ensure their future protection in the wild.
Since the nose-horned vipers are venomous, in case of a bite, various side effects may occur, rarely even death. In case you encounter them in the wild, it’s best to move away and not get close. The viper will not attack you. It is a quiet animal that keeps to itself, and defends itself in case it feels endangered and unable to flee. If a bite occurs, proper first aid should be applied. The injured person should minimize their movements, and you should ask whether the person is feeling nauseous and dizzy, and call the emergency services, to be on the safe side. If the bite is for example on the arm, it can get numb and swollen and the injured person should be taken to the hospital, to be monitored. Antivenom should never be administered outside the hospital! In most cases it isn’t needed, anyway. In any case, you should never panic!
PHOTO: Katarina Terlević