Difference in snake, snake and viper

For those who do not know, there is a difference between snake, snake and viper . However, it is very common for people to use these words interchangeably in Brazil. In fact, snake, snake and viper have different meanings. To learn how to distinguish each one, read this article.

Here you will understand a little more about each of these terms. You will also discover what are the main characteristics of snake, snake and viper. In addition, you can check the meaning of snakebite.

Snake, snake and viper: what’s the difference?


The word snake is often used as a synonym for snake, however, scientifically the word snake refers to snakes in the family Colubridae (colubrids). Interesting fact is that most snakes are part of this family, with around 2000 species in the world.

Among the existing species, most of them are harmless snakes, of medium size, that is, they are not poisonous or do not have an adequate dentition to inoculate the poison.

Rhinobothryum lentiginosum is the scientific name of a fake coral snake (Photo: Wikipedia)

We can agree that  all snakes are snakes, but not all snakes are snakes . In Brazil, the most well-known snakes are  Simophis rhinostoma  and  Rhinobothryum lentiginosum,  two species of false coral; the liana snake ( Chironius exoletus ) and the canine snake ( Spilotes pullatus ). They are the most numerous snakes in Brazil in terms of genera and species.

Snakes are relatively peaceful reptiles , they are not aggressive , easy to handle, reproduce and keep in captivity. However, some genera, such as Philodryas, are capable of causing accidents in humans, although their poison is less potent than accidents caused by Bothrops and Crotalus.

See also:  Meet the most dangerous terrestrial animal on the Planet


The term snake should be used when we refer in general to all crawling reptiles, without legs, which have an elongated body covered with scales and are pecilotérmicos.

Therefore, snakes are vertebrate animals, of the reptile class, of the order squamata and subordinate snakes (ophidia). Snakes are considered animals very close to lizards, as they share common characteristics. We can conclude that vipers and snakes are a type of snake.

Snake is any reptile that crawls without legs and has a body covered with scales (Photo: depositphotos)

Snakes have scales lining their bodies to prevent dehydration and also to protect against possible impacts or mechanical shocks. Due to their anatomical characteristics, snakes are able to swallow their prey without having to chew them.

They feed on some reptiles, birds, fish and even mammals . They have a wide geographical distribution, that is, they are found in almost all parts of the world, except in very cold climates. They prefer warmer climates, such as tropical and equatorial.

Many snakes are venomous and inject their venom through specialized teeth (inoculating fangs). In Brazil there are approximately 70 species of venomous, that is, poisonous snakes.

When a person is bitten by a poisonous snake, the symptoms can be immediate or not, as it depends on the species in question. The fact is that if not treated correctly, with specific serum, the individual may die.

In addition to specific dentition, venomous snakes have a structure called the loreal or lacrimal pit . The loreal pit is located between the nostril and the eye of the animal, being a thermoreceptor organ that allows the snake to identify the variation in ambient temperature. The loreal pits are directly connected to the snake’s brain, being extremely important for it to detect the presence of prey or predators.


Vipers are vertebrate animals, of the reptile class, of the lepidosauria subclass, of the squamata order, of the serpent suborder, of the Viperidae family (viperids). It can be said that vipers are poisonous snakes , with teeth suitable for inoculation of poison, with a triangular head shape and super agile.

They have great ability to pounce on their prey, so they are very dangerous animals. The main characteristics of vipers are: presence of loreal pit, small eyes with vertical slit-shaped pupils, elongated and rough scales of equal appearance on the head and body, short tail that sharply tapers, nocturnal habits, strike when feel threatened, are ovoviviparous.

Rattlesnake is a type of viper found in Brazil (Photo: depositphotos)

Vipers are considered the most poisonous and well-adapted reptiles that exist. The best known are: jararaca, rattlesnake, surucucu, death viper, horned viper, gabon viper and russel viper. Another group of poisonous vipers are those of the Elapidae family, whose main representative is true coral.

Vipers of the viperidae family, such as jararacas, surucucus and rattlesnakes, are found in Brazil. However, a few species are threatened with extinction, such as: jararaca de alcatrazes, jararaca ilhoa, jararacuçu mat, urutu cruz, jararaca verde and cotiara.

In Brazil, most snake attacks are due to vipers of the genera Botrópico (jararaca, urutu and jararacuçu), Crotálico (rattlesnake), Laquésico (surucucu) and Elapídico (real coral).

See also:  Venomous animals

What to do if you are bitten by a viper?

  • Get medical help immediately. The first 30 minutes are essential to save a life
  • Stay calm, avoid moving absurdly
  • If possible, wash the bite with running water and soap
  • Apply ice on the spot
  • If possible, identify the type of snake, either through a photo or description of the animal. This will be essential for the correct administration of serum to the patient.

What not to do if you are bitten by a viper?

  • Never do tourniquet or tourniquet
  • Never cut or puncture the bite site
  • Never place leaves of plants or herbs, coffee powder, toothpaste or any other substance that contaminates the location of the bite
  • Never offer the victim any type of alcoholic beverage, tea or medicine
  • Never perform any procedure that delays due medical attention.

See also:  Did you know that snakes already had legs and can have them again?


All accidents caused by venomous animals, mainly by snakes, are considered to be snakebites . Ophidianism is considered a serious public health problem, especially if serotherapy is not administered properly and in a timely manner.

In Brazil, the main agents are snakes of the genera Bothrops, Crotalus, Lachesis and Micrurus, which have about 60 species of great medical importance. According to the Ministry of Health, there are about 19,000 to 22,000 accidents with venomous snakes per year .

The snakebite accident is related to climatic factors and the increase in human activity in the field. The male audience is the most affected, between the age group of 15 to 49 years. The legs and feet are the places most affected.

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