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There is a group of snakes that are known as Pit Vipers.  Not only are these snakes venomous they also have a very 'cool' heat sensing system.  This helps these snakes to find prey in the dark, which is when most snakes like to hunt.  The ‘pit’ is a special organ in between the eyes and the nostrils.  The pit senses body heat from animals and gives the snake a ‘picture’ of that animal.  The snake can then attack it.  Some pit vipers will bite and poison the prey and then release it.  It will follow the dying animal, using its heat sensors, until it stops and the snake can swallow it.  Most pit vipers hunt at night when the air is cooler and the heat from rodents and other prey is most obvious to them.  The ‘heat picture’ from larger animals will tell the snake that a quick escape is a good idea, too!

All rattlesnakes are Pit Vipers.  Water Moccasins, Horned Desert Viper, Lance-head, Eyelash Viper, and the Copperhead are a few other examples of pit vipers.

Eyelash Viper

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