Viper Eating A Shrew

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Came across this viper on a bike path one evening in July. It got shy when we stood around admiring it, so it disengaged from the shrew and slithered off into the greenery. May have saved it from getting run over by a bike.


  1. #1 Mattias
    September 13, 2011

    “The maiming of the shrew”.

  2. #2 GregH
    September 13, 2011

    Cool! You have very large shrews in Sweden.

  3. #3 Mattias
    September 14, 2011

    I think it is rather a matter of small vipers.

  4. #4 Birger Johansson
    September 14, 2011

    Nature is cruel… and since half the eaten creatures are female, often with a litter, you will get 4-6 young animals starving to death. I have absolutely no romantic view of nature.

    Completely OT, “Dynamics of Cats” at Scienceblogs has posted a lot of threads about an ongoing conference on planet formation /planetary system formation.
    This is the stuff I read for internet porn.

  5. #5 Birger Johansson
    September 14, 2011

    (OT) The Tolkien Code! In this thread about conspiracy theories and assorted madness the enhusiastic commenters “prove” that J.R.R. Tolkien was behind 9/11. And LOTR is obviously full of numerological hints!

    (Nothing of this has anything to do with vipers, unless you recall the creatures the Nazguls used for travel had a reptilian appearence)
    “The Contagion of conspiracy mongering and pseudoscience”

  6. #6 GregH
    September 14, 2011

    I was hinting that it doesn’t look like a shrew. It looks like a mouse.

    According to Wikipedia, “…[common Adder] Adults grow to a length of 60 to 90 centimetres (24 to 35 in)”, which is a good-sized snake. /pedant

  7. #7 Mattias
    September 15, 2011

    You’re right, Greg, but the specimina you most commonly come across in southern Sweden are around half that size. The black variety seems to grow somewhat larger. I remember reading that there is an evolutionary battle going on: the black variant warms up more quickly in the morning sun and can thus eat more during the day, whereas it is also more easily spotted by predators. Time will tell which variety emerges victorious, or if the two will eventually split into non-interbreeding sub-species.

    / Mattias

  8. #8 Martin R
    September 15, 2011

    This was a small young viper. My memory may fail me, but I recall that the prey was far smaller than the typical vole or mouse. I wonder what ate it after the viper fled.

  9. #9 Birger Johansson
    September 15, 2011

    “I wonder what ate it after the viper fled”
    Probably some bird… provided they can digest the poison.

    (OT) “Seeing beneath the soil to uncover the past”

  10. #10 Mattias
    September 16, 2011

    “I wonder what ate it after the viper fled”

    You mean you didn’t bring that chunk of perfectly good meat home?

  11. #11 Martin R
    September 16, 2011

    I forgot. Too busy hunting down the viper as a snack.

  12. #12 Birger Johansson
    September 16, 2011

    Viper as a snack? You haven’t bought into the “tasting like chicken” lie, have you? Snakes taste like you expect snake to taste.
    I operate my snake farm for the potential of mayhem, not for culinary purposes. I do a brisk trade in giving snakes to people who wish to eliminate rivals in “reality” TV shows.
    — — — — — —
    In regard to the re-make of “Conan the Barbarian”, have you found archaeological evidence of magicians using snakes for arrows?

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