Fer-de-Lance (Terciopelo) Facts

They’re found from the lowlands of Southern Mexico and Central American countries Such as Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica.

It’s also located in the northern regions of South America. The fer-de-lance is the snake from the genus Bothrops located in the island of Trinidad.

Their preferred habitats include all moist environments situated in low to mid elevations around 2,000 ft (600 m) for example tropical rainforests. But it can also be seen in other habitats such as the fossil forests of Mexico and lowlands to mountainous regions, thorn woods or savannah near to streams, rivers or lakes or in drier portions of tropical deciduous woods.

The fer-de-lance or terciopelo may also be seen at substantially higher elevations, for instance at Mexico and Central America it is located anywhere from sea level up to 3,900 to 4,300 feet (1,200 to 1,300 m). Mature specimens could be found in desert locations Though they tend to avoid drier areas with seasonal dry periods.

And in South America, it is found even at higher elevations around 8,200 ft (2,500 m) in Venezuela and 8,660 feet (2,640 m) in Colombia. They will also easily occupy land for plantations or agricultural areas.

It’s a very adaptable species, capable of flourishing in nearly all lands, and for that, it’s one of the most abundant pit viper species on the planet. The fer-de-lance is also quite often found in human habitations, for this reason, these snakes have been believed more harmful to people than any venomous snake species.

The most frequent name fer-de-lance from the French was initially utilised to refer to this Martinique lancehead (Bothrops lanceolatus) located in the island of Martinique in the West Indies.

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But in North America, the name fer-de-lance is often utilized to refer to snakes of the genus Bothrops, such as the common lancehead (Bothrops atrox).

​Strangely within the countries it occupies the name fer-de-lance is not employed, these snakes are known by a number of other common names.

Among the common names are terciopelo (velvet in Spanish), barba amarilla (“yellow beard”) in Guatemala and Honduras, respectively taya equis in Colombia, cuaima in Venezuela, equis at Ecuador and Panama and nauyaca in México. Possibly the strangest thing is”yellow-jawed tommygoff” or sometimes just”Yellowjaw” or”Tommy Goff” utilized in Belize.

As with other snakes in the genus Bothrops the fer-de-lance as a broad, flattened head which very different from the entire body. The head is a medium to dark brownish colour . however, it can be shameful, and at times have stripes or blotches more or less different.

The fer-de-lance usually steps from 4 to 6 ft (1.2 to 1.8 m) in length and may weigh up to 13 lbs (6 kg). Females are much larger than males and have heavy and thicker bodies reaching up to 10 times the size of males.

Though no subspecies are currently recognizedthey were previously considered a subspecies of common lancehead (Bothrops atrox) and is many times confused with that.

fer de lance terciopelo

Fer de Lance Venom

The fer-de-lance will be the root reason for snakebite incidents within its own range and sting symptoms include acute pain, acute swelling, tingling, nausea, vomiting, blistering, bruising, and necrosis. They have a potent and fast-acting hemotoxic venom.

They’re considered the most dangerous snake species in Costa Rica, in charge of nearly half of snakebites and 1/3 of hospitalization cases. A lot of men and women are murdered in its range from the fer-de-lance.

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Douglas March a well-known herpetologist died after being bitten by a fer-de-lance. However, in spite of its elevated venom return and enormous fangs (roughly 1 inch from huge females), the species has a low mortality rate approximately 1 to 2 percent.

The particular antivenom is quite effective, but oftentimes, the tissue necrosis is very severe and amputations are extremely typical, those bitten end up losing limbs or even parts of the extremities. Occasionally for instance, in parts of the body from the sting site, individuals bitten in the upper body sometimes may take a toe or even an entire foot amputation.

The fer-de-lance venom return by dry weight averages about 458 milligrams, and as a intraperitoneal LD50 worth in mice of 2.844 mg/kg. Researchers used a hydrogel infused with the venom, which injected into an open wound is able to shut down bleeding in mere moments. There are also studies to utilize the venom to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Fer-de-Lance Diet

Their dimensions and strength, combined with its extremely toxic venom create them highly successful predators. Due to the distribution that is terciopelo, its eating habits incorporate a wide range of prey.

The snakes feed mainly on small lizards or even massive insects such as centipedes, while adults feed on mammals, amphibians, reptiles and other snakes.

In Ecuador, the fer-de-lance or terciopelo feeds primarily on rodents, even whilst at the island of Trinidad they feed on almost everything out of rodents, small mammals, lizards, dinosaurs, birds and even crayfish.

At Costa Rica, adults are known to feed on rats, rats, opossums and other rodents, in addition to rabbits, frogs, and geckos.

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These snakes are regarded as the most successful in all the Americas. Sexual maturity is reached by the species in 110 to 120 cm for females while males average at 100 cm. Even the terciopleo is viviparous, meaning females don’t lay eggs.

The terciopelo or even fer-de-lance breeding period takes place usually during the rainy season when food is also offered. Considering that the terciopelo is located in a large range, time and the species breeding customs varies greatly. Females can shop sperm enabling them to delay fertilization.

For instance in the Pacific region, they mate from September to November, and females give birth between April and June. Though the Atlantic inhabitants found in Costa Rica possess the mating season in March and births between September and November.

The female’s size determines the amount of offspring generated. Females give birth anywhere from 5 to 86 young after a gestation period of 6 to 2 months.


The species is currently in decline in Ecuador because of deforestation, urbanization, pollution and agriculture. But they’re a really adaptable species and so are still located in suburban and open zones, even though they are not yet assessed, it’s regarded as a”Least Concern” species in the IUCN Red List.

In other parts of its range such as Costa Rica, the human effect has been mostly positive since the fer-de-lance is capable of thriving ​in agricultural environments such as banana, cacao and coffee areas. Only when the modifications to their environment are more extreme prey there is a negative influence on population numbers.