This hair-raising video shows the moment a ‘defensive’ viper propelled itself at a photographer with the ferocity of its strike captured in stunning slow-motion.
At first the vibrant green snake with beady red eyes is twisted around a tree in the forests of Thailand before it launches itself towards the camera.
While the fear-inducing footage was shot in slow-motion by Ross McGibbon, the deadly speed of the Pope’s Pit Viper is still apparent as the photographer’s flash goes off long after the snake has retracted.
But reptile enthusiast Ross, 32, explained that in this instance the snake was simply lashing out in defence after detecting the heat from the cameras.
“Pope’s Pit Vipers are nocturnal ambush hunters, laying like a coiled spring in branches for an unsuspecting bird, lizard, frog or rodent to come within range,” says Firefighter Ross, of Perth, Western Australia.
“We were out that night specifically looking for that species of snake so it was amazing to find it and to see it strike like that.
“They don’t have very good eyesight so in the dark they use what is like their sixth sense to detect heat and it must have picked up our body heat so it is actually striking out at us.
“It wasn’t frightening. I am very used to snakes and I also know that it was just being defensive rather than actually trying to attack us so it wasn’t scary at all.”
The viper’s stealth allows it to strike out at its unsuspecting prey, snatching birds straight out of the air and lizards, rodents and frogs off neighbouring trees.
“Once they detect their prey they strike in the blink of an eye with their mouth wide, ensuring their 15mm fangs don't miss their target,” Ross explains.
“It strikes out so fast that we were really struggling get photos of it. You can see in the video the snake strikes and then the flash goes off, that’s how quick it is.”
The striking shots of the Pope’s Pit Viper were captured by Ross during a trip to the Kaeng Krachan national park in Thailand with a group of fellow photographers.
Ross bought his first DSLR camera about seven years ago but started to specialise in reptile photography after a stint working as a snake catcher in 2015.
“Reptiles have always been passion of mine, ever since childhood,” he says.
“People tend to think they’re scary and not like them because they’re not cute and cuddly but they are fascinating animals.”
With additional reporting by Caters News