TERRA NATURA park in Benidorm has expanded its collection of poisonous residents by welcoming a pair of butterfly vipers from a Dutch zoo.

Besides caring for the new snakes, their dangerous venom will be analysed by herpetologists at the park in a project started in 2007 to obtain information on producing anti-venom treatments.

Terra Natura in Benidorm is one of the few Spanish centres that has a multi-purpose anti-venom bank, covering the bites of poisonous snakes of nearly all African, Asian and American species.

The pair of butterfly vipers can already be viewed in their terrarium, located inside the volcano in the Pangea section of the park.

The species is native to the jungles of west and central Africa with both specimens currently measuring about 30 centimetres and weighing about 250 grams.

When they reach maturity they can measure more than 1.40 metres and weigh up to four kilos.

They are called butterfly vipers because of the butterfly-shaped spots on their skin with a very potent venom bite which can be deadly for humans if not treated.

After the bite, if an animal prey is large, the viper releases it and follows its trail by smell while the inoculated venom takes effect and then locates and engulfs it.

If the prey is small, it gobbles it up on the spot.

Residents of African villages popularly call it ‘death dressed as a party’ in allusion to its striking skin colours.


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