Creatures of the Amazon

Largest venomous snake in South America.
Family, Viperide. Record length, over twelve feet.
Lachesis Muta/Mute Fate Most Dangerous

The only egg laying pit viper in the new world. The Bushmaster, its size, length of fangs and the amount of venom, is what makes this snake so dangerous. I have heard many exciting stories about how aggressive these animals are. I have yet to witness or verify these accounts. The fact is they are very defensive. They usually live in one special place they pick for home and don’t wander far from it. They find a retreat, like a log, hole, stump or bush pile. They rarely come out except to feed, breed, shed skin and bathroom chores. If out for food, they set up on a game trail, or just off the trail, near their retreat and just wait. They are a “sit and wait” ambush type predator. They wait for up to a week or more. Rains come, leaves fall, night and day, they still wait. They are very camouflaged and hard to see.
WATCH YOUR STEP! They wish not to be stepped on. This will prevoke a natural defense response - they’ll bite.
The venom and fangs are not really for defense, to the snake they are precious and nature developed them specially for obtaining food. All venomous snakes are specialist. In fact the venom is a complex enzyme and protien from a modified saliva gland. Just as we chew our food to mix enzyme rich saliva into our food to tenderize and start the digestive process, so the venom breakes down red blood cells and muscle tissue to start the digestive process, as well as makes the kill. The venom is most effective when injected directly into the blood stream. A big bushmaster has a lot of venom, and because of this few survive the bite.

Most people that are bitten, have stepped on them on the trail. Others are bit trying to kill, molest or capture the snake. This is not recomended! I will agree while they don’t belong in a village, its not necessary to go out of your way to kill one in the wild. If you ever come upon one on the trail its quite a thrill - STOP! TAKE A GIANT STEP OR TWO BACKWARDS! WOW! Then go around. They can strike 2/3 of their length so give them their space, and respect, then enjoy the thrill. For me its like a gift from nature whenever I see one. I always remember the area so I can return and visit. Relax they will not chase you, and will try to avoid having to use thir fangs or venom for defense.

They are found throughout the dense jungles of Brasil and Peru. Once The Mayor of Iquitos called to see if we could verify a 16 foot specimen in a pueblo called Nina Rumi. My friend Mike Collis and I went to check it out. Quite exciting I must say, even though it was the largest bushmaster I ever handled, it was short of the record, being just over ten feet long.

To find out more about reptiles or the nature of the Amazon jungle, please contact me at
I am an American Naturalist Living in Peru since 1994
I'm based out of Iquitos Peru, and run "Custom Wilderness Adventures"

Your jungle friend

Richard AUK-COO Fowler

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