Bothrops lanceolatus

Bothrops lanceolatus

Bothrops lanceolatus, Martinican pit viper, Martinique lancehead

Bothrops lanceolatus

Bothrops lanceolatus — known as the fer-de-lance, Martinican pit viper, and Martinique lancehead — is a species of pit viper generally considered endemic to the Caribbean island of Martinique. Some reserve the common name fer-de-lance for this species, while others apply that name to other Bothrops species as well. No subspecies are currently recognized.


It measures 1.50 to 2 m long (5 feet long). Its color is brown, black and gray.



Biogeographical realms

Bothrops lanceolatus is generally considered endemic to the island of Martinique in the Lesser Antilles. However, the British Museum of Natural History has two specimens from Guadeloupe. The type locality according to Bonnaterre (1790:11) is "La Martinique".

Habits and Lifestyle

As ambush predators, Martinique lancehead typically wait patiently somewhere for unsuspecting prey to wander by. At least one species, the arboreal, is known to select a specific ambush site and return to it every year in time for the spring migration of birds. Studies have indicated these snakes learn to improve their strike accuracy over time. At daytime or nighttime they could be aggressive.



The venom has toxins that can cause clotting, and bleeding in humans, as well as muscle damage and swelling.

Diet and Nutrition

All of the various species are carnivorous, and eat other animals. Their diet primarily changes based on how large the snake is and where the snake lives. Larger individuals can feed on larger prey, while smaller species must eat smaller foodstuffs.

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Martinican pit vipers hunts include rats, mice, birds, rabbits, lizards, frogs, snakes, bats, and more.

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Mating Habits

With few exceptions, crotalines are ovoviviparous, meaning that the embryos develop within eggs that remain inside the mother's body until the offspring are ready to hatch, at which time the hatchlings emerge as functionally free-living young. In such species the eggshells are reduced to soft membranes that the young shed, either within the reproductive tract, or immediately after emerging.


1. Bothrops lanceolatus Wikipedia article -
2. Bothrops lanceolatus on The IUCN Red List site -

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