03 November 2012

Desert Snakes on new UAE stamps



Date of Issue : 1 November 2012

UAE Post issued a set of five stamps and a Miniature sheet on 1st November 2012 featuring Desert snakes.

Sand Boa

Sand Boa 

One of the smallest boa species , the Arabian sand boa is the only boa found in south-east Arabia, and one of the most common snakes in the UAE.  Boas are one of the most primitive snake groups.

Rarely encountered by man, the harmless and nocturnal Arabian sand boa lives almost permanently under the desert sand. It's locomotion is relatively slow , and in order to catch prey it must rely on ambush.  When prey strays too near, the boa strikes, coiling its muscular body around its victim and tightening its grip until the animal can no longer breathe or circulate blood. The boa’s prey mainly comprises small reptiles which it can easily swallow whole, such as geckos and worm lizards.

Unlike most boas, which give birth to live young, the Arabian sand boa is one of only three boa species that lay eggs.

Arabian Horned Viper

Arabian Horned Viper

Active from dusk until dawn, and well-camouflaged amongst the sand and rocks, the most obvious sign of the Arabian horned viper’s presence is usually the sinuous tracks it leaves while employing its sidewinding method of locomotion . This species is an efficient predator and uses both active pursuit as well as ambush to capture prey. It buries its body and head beneath the sand using rapid side-to-side wriggling, until only the eyes and snout are exposed. The snake then lays in wait for prey such as lizards, small birds and rodents to approach, before striking with lightning speed and injecting the animal with its powerful venom . The venom acts quickly, killing a house sparrow in 27 to 90 seconds, at which point the snake swallows its victim whole .

Despite its deadly capabilities, the Arabian horned viper falls prey to larger predators such as desert monitors . When threatened, this species coils its body and rubs its keeled scales together to create a rasping sound, and it will also hiss and inflate its body before resorting to striking.

Saw scaled Viper

Sochurek's Saw-scaled Viper

Despite its relatively small size,  is considered a dangerous snake, with an aggressive temperament, a lightning-fast strike and powerful venom.This viper has large venom glands and long, hollow fangs that can be folded against the roof of the mouth when the mouth is shut . An aggressive and efficient predator, it hunts mainly at night, and feeds on toads, lizards, arthropods, bird eggs and nestlings.

It is easily provoked and will strike rapidly when it senses danger. When threatened, it first assumes a characteristic defensive position, curling its body into a series of C-shaped coils which are rubbed against each other in opposite directions to produce a loud, rasping warning ‘hiss’ .

Arabian Rearfang

Arabian Rearfang

It is named for its unusual, cobra-like defensive behavior, in which it lifts the front of the body off the ground, holds it at a 45° angle, dilates the neck into a ‘hood’, and hisses . The head is rather elongated, and clearly distinct from the neck, with a convex forehead and a pointed snout, which protrudes over the mouth.

They usually active during the day or at dawn and dusk, but may be more nocturnal during the summer months. The diet is likely to include lizards, small mammals and birds . Despite the cobra-like defensive posture, which also gives rise to the alternative name of ‘false cobra’, it is not related to cobras, and is in fact only very mildly venomous, and not considered dangerous to humans .

Carpet Viper

Carpet viper

It is a venomous snake with a relatively short, stocky body, a wide head, vertical pupils and heavily keeled scales. It receives its common name from its defensive display, in which the scales are rubbed together by drawing opposing coils of the body against each other, producing a loud rasping or sawing sound.

They are responsible for the greatest proportion of all snake bite fatalities in humans. As these vipers often live in close proximity to humans and will bite with little provocation, they are considered to be among the world’s most dangerous snakes

They are  active either at night or at dawn and dusk . Like other vipers, it is likely to hunt its prey using a sit-and-wait technique, aided by camouflaging body markings that conceal the snake from its prey

They feed on small mammals, frogs, toads, birds, lizards and large invertebrates. In some areas, it has a habit of perching on bushes or trees close to water, with the head pointed upwards, suggesting that it may hunt birds coming in to rest or drink . Once a viper has struck its prey, it usually withdraws immediately  and then follows its prey using chemical cues until its venom has immobilized the victim.

Emirates Post has released a set of 5 stamps on Desert Snakes in UAE. Anyone interested in the stamps , SS & FDC's may contact at email : kenneth.sequeira@hotmail.com

: Kenneth Sequeira -  Dubai (UAE)

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: Rajesh Paharia , Jaipur

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