Fer-de-lance

Fer-de-lance or Terciopelo snake in spirit, used for healing

Bothrops asper

Trinidad

Z.2012.46

These snakes are listed as the most deadly in all the countries where they live. They are highly aggressive with painful and venomous bites. 

Where and how they live: They like the moist tropical rainforests of Central and South America, Mexico and Trinidad. They also occur in drier forests and in savannah and grassland close to water. They are often found close to where people live.

What they eat: These fast, large, deadly snakes can open their jaws 180° so they can hunt large animals. The adults feed on all kinds of small animals including mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Younger snakes prefer small lizards and invertebrates.

Are they endangered? They cause a lot of bites because they are quite common but numbers have declined in some areas due to environmental changes. Despite their adaptable ways rainforest clearance, pollution and other human activities are all thought to have contributed to their reduction in numbers. They are not currently endangered.

Why is this one in a whisky bottle? In the Western Amazon region many people keep a dead fer-de-lance snake preserved in alcohol in their homes to use as a medicine. They use the liquid on a cloth as a poultice to cure arthritis and muscular aches and pains. The fat from a fer-de-lance may also be used to massage sprains.

Linked objects:

Copal resin

Cat’s claw (Uña de gato)