Brevard Zoo Membership Newsletter Fall 2019 - Page 8

Pirarucu EYELASH VIPER PIRARUCU One of the first habitats you’ll discover is the “herp house,” meant to resemble a dilapidated shack reclaimed by the rainforest. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows are all that separate you and your family from colorful frogs, delicate tarantulas and slithering snakes—including a handful of venomous species. The murky Amazon River may not look like much from the surface, but it’s packed with life every bit as fascinating as the trees that line its banks. More than 3,000 known species of fish live here, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Reminiscent of a long, scaly banana with wicked fangs and the fiercest mascara you’ve ever seen, the eyelash viper is perhaps (literally and figuratively) the exhibit’s most striking resident. Unlike the smooth, glossy pythons you may have encountered at the Zoo, eyelash vipers are rough to the touch; sharp, keeled scales make it easier for these snakes to slither through the trees, where they spend most of their lives. . . . one of the Amazon’s most The pirarucu is one of the Amazon’s fascinating denizens, capable of most fascinating exceeding 400 pounds in weight. denizens, capable of exceeding 400 pounds in weight. This beefy beauty has adapted to breathe air rather than water, and often lurks in low-oxygen environments where sluggish fish become easy prey. Although eyelash vipers are found in forests ranging from southern Mexico to Peru, venomous snakes live right here in Florida, too. But fear not, these natural “pest control workers” would much rather take flight than fight a big, scary human and are highly unlikely to bite unless provoked. Be a good neighbor to wildlife by learning how to distinguish venomous from nonvenomous species; should you find a venomous snake on your property, contact a licensed wildlife trapper to relocate it rather than killing it. 8 Brevard Zoo News | Fall 2019 | As the human population in and around the Amazon has grown, so has the demand for the meat and leather of the pirarucu. You’re unlikely to encounter these products in our corner of the world, but you can do your part for other threatened and endangered fishes by becoming a more informed seafood consumer; we recommend downloading the Seafood Watch app, which tells you which stocks are managed sustainably and which ones to avoid.