Like any creature on Earth, the Bamboo pit vipers have adapted to their environment in order to survive.  Here's some adaptations that have made the Bamboo pit vipers so successful in their niche.

The pit organs:Bamboo pit viper
    The pit organ is the most unique structure in the Bamboo pit vipers arsenal.  All members of the Crotalinae subfamily contain this organ, which sits between the nostrils and eyes.  This organ has the amazing ability to sense infrared heat to track prey.  The pit is able to do this because of the large accumulation of the protein TRPA1 in the pit organ.  This organ gives the pit vipers a sixth sense of night vision, a very useful adaptation when hunting prey at night.  The pit viper strikes an animal, and uses its pit organ to track the prey until the venom takes into affect.  If you want to learn more about the TRPA1 gene and the pit organ, the Institute for Creation Research website has a great article about this organ.

   Venom gland Pit viper venom is a powerful hunting tool for the pit vipers!  The venom varies between species, but the Bamboo pit viper has been identified to have hemotoxic venom, which prevents clotting factors of the blood.  When a pit viper strikes, the venom is ejected through the viper's hollow fangs and injected into the prey.  While the effects are not immediate, in small animals the venom spreads quickly through the body and the animal eventually collapses.  The Bamboo pit viper, who tracks the animal closely with its pit organs, is now able to engulf the food.  Without venom it would be pretty hard for the pit vipers to get any nutrition.

  Color:Bamboo pit viper
    A great tool for protection against predators that the Bamboo pit viper uses is simple camouflage.  Pit vipers come in a wide range of colors and patterns, and the colors are largely dependent on where the snakes live.  The bamboo pit vipers distinctive green skin helps it hide from their predators and sneak up on their prey in the  green of the jungle foliage.  Imagine how hard it would be for the pit vipers if they were bright pink!  It's a good thing they blend in so well. 

The Bamboo pit viper's body is covered is scales.  Scales are layers of dead cells stacked upon each other,Snake Scales very much like the skin you are used to.  Scales are nearly water proof and are therefore important for protection against the environment.  Scales are also very tough, allowing snakes to slither across hot or rough surfaces without burning or tearing their skin.  Furthermore, scales act as small anchors for the snake to grab onto the ground as it moves.  In fact, if you were to put a snake on a smooth glass surface it wouldn't be able to move because the scales cannot grab onto anything.  Every couple of months a snake sheds the outer skin to reveal a new layer of scales.

Movable quadrate bone:
Quadrate bones    Like most snakes, the Bamboo pit viper's jaws are not fused together, and they have the ability to "unhinge" their jaw socket to widen their mouth.  This allows the snake to swallow their food whole.  This is obviously very important because snakes cannot chew their food like us (imagine trying to chew with two small fangs).  Without these movable quadrate bones snakes would be restricted to very small prey like insects.  Because the bamboo pit vipers are small snakes, they are not able to engulf food as large as a human, but the quadrate bones allow for engulfment of  small rodents and frogs.   



                                                                               Read about the Bamboo pit viper nutrition
Go back home