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Pseudocerastes persicus.jpg
Persian horned viper (Pseudocerastes persicus)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Pseudocerastes
Boulenger, 1896

Pseudocerastes is a genus of venomous vipers endemic to the Middle East and Asia. It was originally a monotypic genus created in 1896 by Boulenger for the species Pseudocerastes persicus.[1] Due to taxonomic revision and recent discovery, the genus may currently contain as many as three species.

Pseudocerastes are often referred to as false horned vipers because of the horn-like structures above their eyes that are made up of numerous small scales. This is in contrast to the "true" horned viper, Cerastes cerastes, which has similar supraorbital "horns", each consisting of a single elongated scale.[2] Two or three species are currently recognized, namely the spider-tailed horned viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) in addition to others treated as two distinct species, Pseudocerastes persicus and Pseudocerastes fieldi[3].


Species[3] Taxon author[3] Common name Geographic range
P. fieldi K.P. Schmidt, 1930 Field's horned viper Sinai Peninsula, southern Israel, Jordan, extreme northern Saudi Arabia and southwestern Iraq[2]
P. persicus (A.M.C. Duméril, Bibron & A.H.A. Duméril, 1854) Persian horned viper North Iraq, south-east Turkey, Iran, southern Afghanistan, Pakistan and the mountains of Oman[2]
P. urarachnoides Bostanchi, S. Anderson, Kami, & Papenfuss, 2006 Iranian spider viper Iran, Ilam and Kermanshah Provinces


Many sources elevate P. p. fieldi to species level.[4]

In 2006, Bostanchi, Anderson, Kami and Papenfuss described a new species: P. urarachnoides. It is found in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran and is described as having the most elaborate tail ornamentation of any snake yet described, save for the rattlesnakes, Crotalus and Sistrurus.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pseudocerastes". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2 August 2006.
  2. ^ a b c Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. 359 pp. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  3. ^ a b c "Pseudocerastes persicus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2 August 2006.
  4. ^ Pseudocerastes fieldi at the Reptile Database. Accessed 8 September 2007.
  5. ^ Hamid, Bostanchi,; C, Anderson, Steven; Gholi, Kami, Hagi; J, Papenfuss, Theodore (2006). "A new species of Pseudocerastes with elaborate tail ornamentation from Western Iran (Squamata: Viperidae)". Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. 4th series. 57 (14): 443–450.

Further reading[edit]

  • Boulenger GA. 1896. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume III., Containing the ... Viperidæ. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I.- XXV. (Genus Pseudocerastes and species Pseudocerastes persicus, p. 501).
  • Duméril A-M-C, Bibron G, Duméril A[HA]. 1854. Erpétologie générale ou histoire naturelle complète des reptiles. Tome septième. Deuxième partie. Comprenant l'histoire des serpents venimeux. (= General Herpetology or Complete Natural History of the Reptiles. Volume 7. Second Part. Containing the [Natural ] History of the Venomous Snakes). Paris: Roret. xii + pp. 781–1536. (Cerastes persicus, pp. 1443–1444).
  • Joger U. 1984. The venomous snakes of the Near and Middle East. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag. 175 pp.
  • Latifi M. 1991. The Snakes of Iran. Second Edition. Oxford, Ohio: Published by the Dept. of the Environment and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. 156 pp. ISBN 0-916984-22-2.
  • Marx H, Rabb GB. 1965. Relationships and Zoogeography of the Viperine Snakes (Family Viperidae). Fieldiana Zool. 44 (21): 162-206.
  • Mendelssohn H. 1965. On the biology of venomous snakes of Israel. Part II. Israeli Journal of Zoology 14: 185-212.
  • Obst FJ. 1983. Zur Kenntnis der Schlangengattung Vipera. (= On Knowledge of the Snake Genus Vipera). Zool. Abh. staatl. Mus. Tierkunde Dresden 38: 229-235.

External links[edit]