Common names: lanceheads, American lanceheads, American lance-headed vipers.
Bothrops is a genus of venomous pitvipers found in Central America, South America. The generic name is derived from the Greek words bothros and ops that mean "pit" and "eye" or "face"; an allusion to the heat-sensitive loreal pit organs. Members of this genus are responsible for more human deaths in the Americas than any other group of venomous snakes. Currently, 32 species are recognized.


These snakes range from small, never growing to more than 50-70 cm, to large at over 200 cm in length. Most are characterized by having a sharp canthus rostralis and an unelevated snout.

The arrangement of the scales on top of the head is extremely variable; the number of intrasupraoculars may be anything from 3 to 14. Usually there are 7-9 supralabials and 9-11 sublabials. There are 21-29 midbody dorsal scales, 139-240 ventral scales and 30-86 subcaudals, which are generally divided.

Geographic range

Found in northeastern Mexico (Tamaulipas) southward through Central and South America to Argentina. Also occurs on the islands of Saint Lucia and Martinique in the Lesser Antilles, as well as on Ilha da Queimada Grande off the coast of Brazil.


Most species are nocturnal, although a few that are found at higher altitudes are active during the day. Otherwise they may be seen on cloudy days or during periods of rain. Most are terrestrial, even though all are capable of climbing. One in particular, B. insularis, has a reputation for often being found in trees.


Members of this genus are responsible for more fatalities in the Americas than any other group of venomous snakes. In this regard, the most important species are B. asper, B. atrox and B. jararaca. Without treatment, the fatality rate is estimated to be about 7%, but with treatment this is reduced to 0.5-3%.

Typical symptoms of bothropic envenomation include immediate burning pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sweating, headache, massive swelling of the bitten extremity, hemorrhagic blebs, local necrosis, bleeding from the nose and gums, ecchymosis, erythemia, hypotension, tachycardia, coagulopathy with hypofibrinogenemia and thrombocytopenia, hematemesis, melena, epistaxis, hematuria, intracerebral hemorrhage and renal failure secondary to hypotension and bilateral cortical necrosis. There is usually some discoloration around the bite site and rashes may develop on the torso or the extremities.

In general, death results from hypotension secondary to hypovolemia, renal failure and intracranial hemorrhage. Common complications include necrosis and renal failure secondary to hypovolemic shock and the toxic effects of the venom.


Species Taxon author Subsp.* Common name Geographic range
B. alternatus Duméril, Bibron and Duméril, 1854 0 Urutu Southeastern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and northern Argentina (in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Córdoba, Corrientes, Chaco, Entre Ríos, Formosa, La Pampa, Misiones, San Luis, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán.
B. ammodytoides Leybold, 1873 0 Patagonian lancehead Argentina in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Córdoba, Chubut, La Pampa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Neuquén, Río Negro, San Juan, San Luis, Santa Cruz and Tucumán.
B. andianus Amaral, 1923 0 Andean lancehead Southern mountains of Peru in the departments of Cuzco and Puno at elevations of 1800-3300 m.
B. asper (Garman, 1884) 0 Terciopelo Atlantic lowlands of eastern Mexico and Central America, including Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua Costa Rica and Panama. A disjunct population occurs in southeastern Chiapas (Mexico) and southwestern Guatemala. In northern South America in Colombia and Venezuela. Also in Ecuador.
B. atrox (Linnaeus, 1758) 0 Common lancehead Tropical lowlands of South America east of the Andes, including southeastern Colombia, southern and eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru, northern Bolivia and the northern half of Brazil.
B. barnetti Parker, 1938 0 Barnett's lancehead Along the Pacific coast of northern Peru at low elevations in arid, tropical scrub.
B. brazili Hoge, 1954 0 Brazil's lancehead Equatorial forests of southern Colombia, eastern Peru, eastern Ecuador, southern and eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, Brazil and northern Bolivia.
B. campbelli Freire-Lascano, 1991 0 Ecuadorian toadheaded pitviper Pacific lowlands and slopes from west-central Colombia to Ecuador.
B. caribbaeus (Garman, 1887) 0 Saint Lucia lancehead St. Lucia, Lesser Antilles. Apparently restricted to the low elevation periphery of all but the southern third and extreme northern tip of the island.
B. colombianus Rendahl & Vestergren, 1940 0 Colombian toadheaded pitviper Pacific versant of Colombia.
B. cotiara (Gomes, 1913) 0 Cotiara Araucaria forests of southern Brazil in the states of São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. In northeastern Argentina in Misiones Province.
B. erythromelas Amaral, 1923 0 Caatinga lancehead Northeastern Brazil in the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, extreme eastern Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe.
B. fonsecai Hoge & Belluomini, 1959 0 Fonseca's lancehead Southeastern Brazil in the states of northeastern São Paulo, southern Rio de Jeneiro and extreme southern Minas Gerais.
B. hyoprorus Amaral, 1935 0 Amazonian toadheaded pitviper Northwestern South America in the equatorial forests of southern Colombia, eastern Ecuador, northeastern Peru and western Brazil.
B. iglesiasi Amaral, 1923 0 Cerrado lancehead Northeastern Brazil in northern Piaui state.
B. insularis (Amaral, 1922) 0 Golden lancehead Queimada Grande Island, Brazil.
B. itapetiningae (Boulenger, 1907) 0 São Paulo lancehead Southeastern Brazil in the states of Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, São Paulo, and on the Paraná Plateau.
B. jararaca (Wied-Neuwied, 1824) 0 Jararaca Southern Brazil, northeastern Paraguay and northern Argentina (Misiones).
B. jararacussu Lacerda, 1884 0 Jararacussu Eastern Brazil (from Bahia to Santa Catarina), Paraguay, southeastern Bolivia and northeastern Argentina (Misiones province).
B. jonathani (Harvey, 1994) 0 Cochabamba lancehead The Altiplano of central Bolivia in the department of Cochabamba, occurring at elevations of 2800-3200 m in dry rocky grassland.
B. lanceolatusT (Bonnaterre, 1790) 0 Martinique lancehead Martinique, Lesser Antilles.
B. leucurus Wagler, 1824 0 Bahia lancehead Eastern Brazil along the Atlantic coast from northern Espírito Santo north to Alagoas and Ceará. Occurs more inland in several parts of Bahia. The identity of disjunct populations west of the Rio São Francisco is uncertain.
B. lojanus Parker, 1930 0 Lojan lancehead Southern Ecuador in the provinces of Loja and Zamora-Chinchipe at elevations of 2100-2250 m.
B. marajoensis Hoge, 1966 0 Marajó lancehead Northern Brazil in the coastal lowlands of the Amazon Delta.
B. microphthalmus Cope, 1875 0 Small-eyed toadheaded pitviper Amazonian slopes and lowlands of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
B. moojeni Hoge, 1966 0 Brazilian lancehead Central and southeastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, northeastern Argentina (Misiones) and likely eastern Bolivia.
B. neuwiedi Wagler, 1824 11 Neuwied's lancehead South America east of the Andes and south of approx. 5° south, including Brazil (southern Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Bahia, Goiás, Mato Grosso, an isolated population in Amazonas, Rondônia and all southern states), Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina (Catamarca, Córdoba, Corrientes, Chaco, Entre Ríos, Formosa, Jujuy, La Pampa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Misiones, Salta, San Juan, San Luis, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán) and Uruguay.
B. pictus (Tschudi, 1845) 0 Desert lancehead Peru on the hills of the Pacific coastal region and versant up to approx. 1800 m elevation.
B. pirajai Amaral, 1923 0 Piraja's lancehead Brazil in central and southern Bahia state and possibly also Minas Gerais.
B. pradoi (Hoge, 1948) 0 Brazil in central Espírito Santo state.
B. sanctaecrucis Hoge, 1966 0 Bolivian lancehead Bolivia in the Amazonian lowlands from the departments of El Beni to Santa Cruz.
B. venezuelensis Sandner Montilla, 1952 0 Venezuelan lancehead Northern and central Venezuela, including the Cordillera de la Costa (coast range) and the states of Aragua, Carabobo, the Federal District, Miranda, Mérida, Trujillo, Lara, Falcón, Yaracuy and Sucre.
*) Not including the nominate subspecies.
T) Type species.


Other (new) species may be encountered in literature, such as:

  • B. alcatraz - Marques, Martins & Sazima, 2002. Range: Brazil (São Paulo). Common name: jararaca-de-Alcatrazes.
  • B. muriciensis - Ferrarezzi & Freire, 2001. Range: northeastern Brazil (Alagoas). Common name: Murici lancehead.

See also


External links

Search another word or see bothropson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature