lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

V is for Viper

A rattlesnake is a type of viper, called a pit viper.

As I say in my book, Animal Magic, rattlesnakes are shy creatures that do not attack unless provoked, cornered and unable to escape. They advertise their presence by rattling the ends of their tail as a warning – not as an indication of a strike. They would much rather escape to safety than confront a human.

Many are killed needlessly – they are important parts of ecosystems, keeping down vermin.

There is something very interesting about rattlesnakes – but you’ll have to buy the book to find out!

Aruba Island rattlesnakes are only found on the Caribbean Island of Aruba. They are a rather pretty pinkish colour. Only an estimated 250 remain on the island – nearly all of their dense woodland habitat has been cut down to be used for grazing livestock.

The Aruba Island rattlesnake is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List for Threatened species.

A simple creature,
mainly spine, ribs, skull,
diamond skin
curving straight paths,
it can sense the heat
of a small heart beating
and gather taste
even before its fangs
unfold, bite –
and the small heart stops.
Listen to its
rattle warning –
keep well clear.

It will only strike in fear.

If you would like to read more about the rattlesnake you can do so here: Arkive.

© Liz Brownlee, please do not repost this copyright material, you may link to it.


  1. As vipers won’t attack unless provoked
    I suppose it’s better if they are not poked
    (Not even quick
    with a stick!)


  2. What happens if one bites you? I need to know for a story I am writing. This one is a horned viper.


  3. The horned viper has avery nasty mixture of venoms – you can read about the consequences here – rarely fatal apparently, but sounds nasty!


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