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Gerry's Reptile Page

Bothriechis schlegelii

(Eyelash Viper)


Bothriechis schlegelii (Eyelash Viper- Gold Phase)

Bothriechis schlegelii (Eyelash Viper- Orange/Brown Phase)

Bothriechis schlegelii (Eyelash Viper- Tan Phase) 2

Bothriechis schlegelii (Eyelash Viper- Tiger Phase)


Lineage( abbreviated ): Eukaryota; Metazoa; Chordata; Craniata; Vertebrata; Lepidosauria; Squamata; Scleroglossa; Serpentes; Colubroidea; Viperidae; Crotalinae; Bothriechis.

Latin: bothros- "hole", echis- "viper", schlegelii- "after Herman Schlegel".

Referred to as a "Palm Viper".

Classified under Bothrops until it was moved to Bothriechis in the 1970's.

Extreme variation in color and pattern.

Average size- 18 to 24 inches, although some have exceeded 30 inches.

Sexually dimorphic, with females being bigger.


Ranges- Southern Mexican state of Chiapas, through Central America, Columbia, and extreeme Western Venezuela to Southeastern Ecuador.

Often found near water, in low to moderatly elevated tropical forests up to 2,640 meters.

Frequents low trees, vines, and undergrowth.

Click here to view a picture of the eyelash viper's native habitat: Habitat


Predominately nocturnal.


Displays the "strike and hold" method of envenomation. This is important as many of its meals are taken in trees.

Makes use of "caudal luring" to attract prey.


Mammals, birds, lizards, and amphibians.


Typical venom yield- 10 to 20mg.

More toxic than the majority of Bothrops venom.

Although the bite is genarally not fatal due to such a small dose, fatalaties have been reported (3-6 deaths anually in Costa Rica).

Symptoms include pain, blood filled blisters, ecchymosis (ruptured blood vessels resulting in discoloration), and necrosis that can result in amputation.

Currently, two manufacturers of antivenin that is effective in treatment.


Vertically oriented enclosure as small as 10 gallons.

Substrates- newspaper, gravel, mulch, and soil (but care should be taken to choose a substrate that will hold humidity well).

Known for shedding difficulty if humidity levels are too low during shedding cycles. Once a day misting is usually sufficient.

Provide a water bowl, although most will not drink from a bowl. Daily misting of either fake or real plants in the terrarium allows for the snake to drink water droplets from the leaves.

Temperature- 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Full spectrum lighting not essential.

Feeding should occur every 2 to 3 weeks (pinkies for newbies, mice for adults). These snakes have a slow metabolism, and overfeeding can result in hepatocellular lipidosis.

Snakes can be made to "exercise" by rearranging the tank decorations, misting, or the addition of rain systems.


Consistant in captivity.

Adults should be separated while temperature is gradually lowered (approaching 70 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity is dropped. Also, the light intensity of the terrarium should be lowered. This separation should occur for 2 to 3 months, after which the light, temperature, and humidity are increased. The sexes can then be introduced. Females then may begin to bask under a heat lamp and cease eating. At this time, a 86 to 90 degree Fahrenheit basking area should be provided. Gestation genarally lasts from 4 to 6 months. This species can reproduce throughout the year and females can produce more than one litter per year.

Caring for the young

Undoubtadely, one of the most difficult aspects of the Eyelash Viper for newcommers is getting a new baby to eat. Here are a list of tricks that I have always found to help out A LOT:

Let a new snake settle in a couple weeks before attempting to feed.

Separate the young (if housing more than one together)...which isn't a good idea anyway.

Keep a single snake in an enclosure NO BIGGER than 10 gallons, larger enclosure make them nervous.

Restrict decorations to a branch or two with maybe a plant. Too many decorations makes it hard to feed babies with all the "dodging" you have to do.

Keep the temperature and humidity as listed above.

Get yourself a long pair of hemostats, and get a feel for them. Know when to let go if the snake should strike the food item.

Feed at night under a red light (at least an hour after turning out the lights).

Keep the cage in a "low traffic" area.

When feeding a baby, make sure they are on the ground, not in a branch! This way they get more defensive and will strike more readily.

When trying to get a strike response, take the food item and "slap" the tail....this pisses them off. Then "slap" their head, usually they will strike.

Most babies can take a small pinkie the first time around, but some may require a pinkie head or half a pinkie.

You want the snake to strike, as long as it keeps striking (usually holding for a second then spitting it out), you are on the right path. Keep repeating over and over as long as the snake keeps striking. If the snake starts to run then quit for the night, they are getting stressed.

Get comforatable! I have spent an hour or so trying to get a snake to down the first meal.

Once they do strike, and hold on instead of "spitting" it out, then hold very still. Allows them to try and swallow, any movement may cause them to drop it again. Once they swallow it, then move.

After the first meal, the second is easier, and by the fourth or fifth time it's a piece of cake...just have patience!