Viper debunked as fastest striking snake in the world
Posted on 3/27/2016 4:54:00 AM.

Vipers, which are venomous snakes like rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, were thought to have the quickest strike, but researchers at UL-Lafayette say that’s not the case. Doctoral student David Penning says their study shows that all snakes can strike quickly.

"What we found is that harmless snakes are striking just as fast and just as far as the venomous ones that have always kind of been touted as the snipers of the snake world," Penning said. 

Penning says to observe snakes striking they filmed them with cameras capable of capturing high-speed action. He says they noticed that nonvenomous Texas rat snakes struck with the same velocity and acceleration as vipers.

"So it doesn't mean that vipers aren't fast. They are still very fast, but other snakes are just as fast as vipers,” Penning said.

Penning says it takes a snake 70 milliseconds to strike, and it takes a human 200 milliseconds just to blink. He says what people can take away from this study is that they should not try to grab a venomous snake before it strikes.

"So if it's a dangerous snake, leave it alone. It is just better at its job than you are at trying to get it to move out of the way. That's why it's just an overall great idea to leave these animals alone,” Penning said.

(photo courtesy of UL-Lafayette)
David Penning, vipers

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