Nine ocellate mountain vipers have been born at the St Louis zoo, increasing the population of this rare venomous species, a native of the Turkish mountains.
Born in August, the young snakes will join the St Louis reptile collection — one of only three zoos in the United States to house these rare and attractively banded creatures.
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The vipers were bred as part of the St Louis zoo's Center for Conservation in Western Asia, primarily focused at this time on the breeding and reintroduction of the Armenian viper, a close relative of the ocellated mountain viper.
"With a strong history of caring for this species, the Zoo found value in focusing its conservation efforts on a group largely ignored by other zoological institutions," said St Louis Zoo herpetology and aquatics curator Jeff Ettling in a zoo press release.
"Our studies of mountain vipers in our care have already provided useful information on reproduction and behavior of these poorly known species."
The ocellate mountain viper has an interesting recent history: it was thought to be exinct for 150 years, only rediscovered by chance in eastern Turkey in 1983.