Saw-Scaled Viper (Echis carinatus)
Found along the coast, in the open desert and in the mountains. Its name derives from the fact that along the sides of its body it has several rows of diagonal scales with minute projections. If aroused, it starts rubbing these scales against each other by making undulating movements with its body, producing a rasping sound, similar to the rattle of the rattle snake. The smallest of the locally occurring vipers, it reaches a maximum length of approximately 60 cms, at which size it will have fangs over 5 mms long! The saw-scaled viper is often referred to as a "sidewinder" due to its unusual manner of travelling over soft sand. It has adapted superbly to moving on the unstable substrate found in the sand desert, by travelling at an angle of about 45 degrees to the approximate line of its body. The head is raised and thrown forward in the direction of travel, and as it makes contact with the ground a loop of the body follows it. By the time half of the body has been moved, the head is raised for the next step and so the process continues. Only two points of the body are in contact with the ground at one time. This leaves the characteristic, shallow "S"-shaped parallel markings on the sand. All side-winders, however, will revert to moving in normal sinuous movements when reaching firm ground.
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