Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

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Antonsrkn
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Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by Antonsrkn » October 19th, 2017, 7:13 am

First post in a while for me. I wanted to ask, how many of you have seen an eyelash viper in-situ on some sort of flower? It's become a cliche of sorts to pair the two and I have seen 100 photos of eyelash vipers that have been plopped on Heliconia or some sort of other flower. I suspect this has led to the idea that these eyelash vipers actively seek out flowers and wait there for hummingbirds. Can an eyelash viper even see color?

After seeing yet another photo on FB of an eyelash viper on a flower and one that has been submitted to a photo contest, I wanted to poll the greater community. Does this actually happen on any regular basis or is it a urban legend perpetuated by a photography cliche?

So again my question is: How many of you have personally seen an eyelash viper in-situ on a flower? Just to avoid confusion, in-situ means exactly as found and non-posed. I'm interested in your personal experiences rather than nature documentaries or hearsay.

Also to keep this fun, if you have photos of eyelash vipers (in-situ or not) feel free to share, just clarify whether its as found or not.

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 19th, 2017, 10:19 am

Great question. Its possible that the vipers seek mature flowers by scent? Seems like a cool system for experimentation. I don't know of any predators that seek ambush sites based on indirect clues...

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lateralis
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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by lateralis » October 19th, 2017, 1:51 pm

Phasmids and spiders are known for this strategy so why not snakes?

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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by the_cw1 » October 19th, 2017, 4:47 pm

I spent two weeks in Costa Rica back in 2016. I saw nearly 2 dozen eyelash vipers and none were on flowers OR even near them. I will be visiting again at the end of December and I will certainly keep an eye on it. My understanding, having spoke with a local guide, is that sometimes the snake is moved onto a flower for photography. This is unfortunate as it changes our perception of what "natural" behavior is for the snake.

EDIT:
I went back through my pictures to clarify. This is what a "normal" eyelash viper looked like from my trip. These were taken in and around Cahuita. These are all untouched, "situ", undisturbed animals.

Imagebothriechis_schlegelli by phl_with_a_camera1, on Flickr

Imagebothriechis_schlegelli by phl_with_a_camera1, on Flickr

ImageEyelash Viper Macro by phl_with_a_camera1, on Flickr

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 20th, 2017, 5:51 pm

the_cw1 wrote:My understanding, having spoke with a local guide, is that sometimes the snake is moved onto a flower for photography. This is unfortunate as it changes our perception of what "natural" behavior is for the snake.
...or lizard. Dr. Richard Montanucci took this photo in the 1970s, I believe. When I began searching for Crotaphytus reticulatus, I was scanning fence posts in prime habitat. Turns out Dr. Montanucci had simply placed the lizard on the post to get it to sit still. (I added the speech balloon)
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bgorum
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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by bgorum » October 21st, 2017, 6:15 am

Antonsrkn wrote:First post in a while for me. I wanted to ask, how many of you have seen an eyelash viper in-situ on some sort of flower? It's become a cliche of sorts to pair the two and I have seen 100 photos of eyelash vipers that have been plopped on Heliconia or some sort of other flower. I suspect this has led to the idea that these eyelash vipers actively seek out flowers and wait there for hummingbirds. Can an eyelash viper even see color?

After seeing yet another photo on FB of an eyelash viper on a flower and one that has been submitted to a photo contest, I wanted to poll the greater community. Does this actually happen on any regular basis or is it a urban legend perpetuated by a photography cliche?

So again my question is: How many of you have personally seen an eyelash viper in-situ on a flower? Just to avoid confusion, in-situ means exactly as found and non-posed. I'm interested in your personal experiences rather than nature documentaries or hearsay.

Also to keep this fun, if you have photos of eyelash vipers (in-situ or not) feel free to share, just clarify whether its as found or not.
I always figured they were there hunting the Red-eyed Tree Frogs that photographers placed on the flowers! :)

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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by the_cw1 » October 21st, 2017, 6:16 am

Good point Chris. It's an unfortunate reality that these images have so much power over the animal's biology. I stayed with some biologists in Costa Rica and they bemoaned the fact that people thought eyelash vipers hunted hummingbirds and stayed on flowers. This is because of famous images depicting this. It's not to say an eyelash viper has *never* done this naturally, but the symbolic nature of photography compels us to reach certain conclusions. In situ shots are not as "exciting" as posed pictures--I grant that--but they perhaps more accurately expose the animal's latent behavior(s).

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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by bgorum » October 22nd, 2017, 7:57 am

the_cw1 wrote:In situ shots are not as "exciting" as posed pictures--I grant that--but they perhaps more accurately expose the animal's latent behavior(s).
Ohh, I'll have to disagree with that! I think a well done in situ picture is vastly more exciting than another, same old, posed picture because the in situ shot can give us glimpses into the animal's behavior and ecology. Clearly that is important to some people, or they wouldn't be trying to read that sort of stuff into the posed shots.

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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by WSTREPS » October 22nd, 2017, 2:29 pm

I have found a number (very common) of eyelash vipers back when I running around Central America. I don't ever recall finding one amidst beautiful flowers. My take is this. No doubt if the opportunity presents itself an eyelash viper will take a small bird. But,

I don't believe this would be a designed hunting strategy for a snake such as an eyelash viper given its predatory habits. Eyelash vipers are not specialist. They are essentially nocturnal opportunistic stalk and wait hunters that feed on a variety of abundant prey animals. They do this because it is a successful strategy. It would be counter productive for the snakes to abandon this in favor of a low percentage hunting tactic that would have them perched on a flower waiting for an unsuspecting humming bird to move within range. Especially when its considered the number of more readily available prey items that are to be found.

Ernie Eison

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by Kelly Mc » October 22nd, 2017, 6:18 pm

I was wondering about this, and have always thought of nocturnalism as a not a written in stone behavior, if there is strong enough impetus for the rewards of diurnal or crepuscular activity. I also wondered about seasonal patterns of locality flowering and hummingbird patterns of abundance creating a window of tendency.

But what Ernie says up there is most rational. So, so many frogs.

I wish photographers would not do that. I actually like to study everything around a snake in a photo from a place I dont think I will ever have the opportunity to go.

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the_cw1
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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by the_cw1 » October 22nd, 2017, 6:49 pm

bgorum wrote:
the_cw1 wrote:In situ shots are not as "exciting" as posed pictures--I grant that--but they perhaps more accurately expose the animal's latent behavior(s).
Ohh, I'll have to disagree with that! I think a well done in situ picture is vastly more exciting than another, same old, posed picture because the in situ shot can give us glimpses into the animal's behavior and ecology. Clearly that is important to some people, or they wouldn't be trying to read that sort of stuff into the posed shots.
I don't disagree with you. Let me put it this way: the photos that will generate more views will *probably* not be in situ. For snakes that are as easy to move and work with as eyelash vipers, this is almost certainly the case. I personally try and take all images as in situ.

And I agree with what Ernie is saying. This lines up with my experience with the animals both in and out of the field. None of the vipers I saw were in a position to "take" a bird. They looked set for frogs, rodents, or perhaps small lizards.

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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 23rd, 2017, 4:40 pm

the_cw1 wrote:Let me put it this way: the photos that will generate more views will *probably* not be in situ.
This is why "O'Shea's Big Adventure," easily the most accurate/realistic portrayal of field herping to hit the television airwaves (cable), was not as big a success as its contemporaries pushed by Animal Planet ("The Crocodile Hunter," "The Jeff Corwin Experience"). Not to take away from those two shows, but with O'Shea you felt like you were on the trip with him, and it could be hit or miss.

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Re: Eyelash Vipers & Flowers

Post by BillMcGighan » October 24th, 2017, 4:53 am

the_cw1:
In situ shots are not as "exciting" as posed pictures--I grant that--but they perhaps more accurately expose the animal's latent behavior(s).
bgorum:
Ohh, I'll have to disagree with that! I think a well done in situ picture is vastly more exciting than another, same old, posed picture because the in situ shot can give us glimpses into the animal's behavior and ecology.
Although I prefer "in situ" there is a place on this forum for both types of photos, but newcomers should be cautious not to make assumptions of animal selection of habitat, based upon posed pictures.


Even on night hikes, salamanders are rarely on nice, green moss.
Rosy Boas and Mountain Kings are rarely on top of cap Rocks.
Of course, fossorial herps would be pretty hard to get a pic of while under the dirt!
So, Eyelash Vipers & Flowers send the wrong habitat message, but fit into that more aesthetic category of pics.
:lol: :lol:

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