Roving reporter Emilie interviewed Shy Noodle, the Eyelash Viper, from the safety of its tree in the dense El Chocó jungle of Colombia.
I live alone. I don’t mind. I’m used to it. My mother left me when I was minutes old, so I had to fend for myself. I only saw my brothers and sisters for just a few seconds before they moved on.
For safety, we baby snakes can’t stay in one place for long.
My name is Noodle. Everyone calls me that because I look like a noodle. I’m two months old and bright yellow. I have pointy scales and pointy eyelashes that I use for camouflage.
Living through my senses
I’m really shy. So I spend most of my life high in the trees to avoid my predators, such as humans, eagles, and big dangerous jaguars. During the day I sleep and hide. But at night I go out and hunt. I look for birds, lizards, rodents, anything I can eat.
The most amazing thing about me is how I sense my world. To smell, I use the combination of my forked tongue with my special Jacobson’s organ to taste the air and detect the scent of my prey. That’s why you’ll see me constantly flicking my tongue.
And because I don't have external ears to hear the sounds of the jungle, instead I use one of the bones in my mandibles to feel vibrations in the soil or in the trees. That’s how I hear.
I take them by surprise
I have two big holes between my eyes and nostrils, called pit holes. They act like an infrared camera helping me to sense, almost ‘see’ the heat coming off those I wish to attack - which is very handy when I want to catch a rat in the middle of the night.
So when it’s dark enough that no one can see me, I go out and patiently wait before ambushing my unsuspecting prey. I attack them and wait for my venom to take effect in their body. I stay still, and if they run away, then with my pit holes I track them down.
Noodle the Eyelash Viper speaks
The Great Escape
The other day I set off for a small farming village called San Juan. It was almost dark and I was looking for rats. They are plentiful there because of the crops. I was minding my own business when all of a sudden I felt rumbling in the ground. The farmers had spotted me and armed with shovels started chasing me.
I was scared and knew I had to run and hide. I fear humans as much as they fear me. So I pushed forward from the ground and slithered speedily back through the tall grasses. At the edge of the jungle I reached safety in the first tree I could find.
Today, I just ate three delicious mice and now I’m ready to sleep.
Noodle was interpreted by
Laura Pirateque, a dedicated conservationist, who at the age of 8 saw her first Eyelash Viper curled around a branch at Los Ocarros zoo, in Villavicencio, Colombia. “It was really colourful with bright electric pupils. I fell in love with those cute eyelashes. These vipers are suffering in my country. People kill them because they're venomous. They may not realize that viper venom is used in medical research for diseases such as cancer and high blood pressure.”
Laura says to Noodle
I think you vipers are so cool. You don’t look like us. You sense the world differently. That’s why you’re misunderstood.
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Laura was invited by Indah Sartika Sari with whom she shares a passion for wildlife and underwater photography. “We’re both afraid of deep water yet went snorkeling together to push our boundaries.”
Cover photo edited. Original by Werner Eck.