Friday, October 30, 2015

The diet of Gasperetti’s sand viper

By Zuhair Amr via Wikimedia Commons
Gasperetti’s sand viper, Cerastes gasperetti, is the most common snake in Saudi Arabia. However, this snake remains poorly studied. It is distributed throughout many deserts in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Horned viper is a nocturnal, true desert snake and prefers sandy soil with some vegetation. Horned vipers are generally considered opportunistic predators with varied diets. However no study has specifically addressed the diet of Cerastes gasperettii.  Al-Sadoom et al. (2015) examined 238 specimens from Al-Thumama area, in the central region of Saudi Arabia collected over a period of one year May, 1998 – April, 1999. The digestive system was examined. Eighty specimens of both sexes were studied for gut content analysis. They found larger specimens of Gasperetti’s sand viper feeds mostly on rodents (Gerbillus cheesmani and Mus musculus) which were found in snakes with larger size and formed 70% of the stomach contents. Arthropods (beetles) constituted 15% of the contents and lizards (Acanthodactylus schmiditi and Stenodactylus slevinii) form 10% of the total diet. The remaining 5% of the stomach content was completely digested and could not be identified.


Citation
Al-Sadoon, M. K., & Paray, B. A. (2015). Ecological Aspects of the Horned viper, Cerastes cerastes gasperettii in the Central Region of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences.

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