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This terrifying snake has a tail that looks like a spider

The spider-tailed horned viper, which uses its tail as bait to lure birds as prey. (Omid Mozaffari)

This utterly terrifying-looking creature is called the spider-tailed horned viper, and for good reason. The venomous snake, native to Iran, has a tail that looks like a spider — and it uses the eerie appendage as bait to lure in birds, which it then devours.

Thanks to Animal Planet for bringing our attention to this snake's bizarre, unsettlingly realistic spider tail. It so closely resembles a spider, in fact, that when scientists first spotted it in Iran in 1968, they initially assumed there was a solifuge (a close relative of a spider) clinging to its tail.

Here's a choice clip from the video above — part of a forthcoming documentary directed by Fathalloh Amiri — that shows a bird swooping down to eat what it believes to be a spider, only to be attacked by the well-camouflaged snake:


Even though the first specimen from this species was discovered decades ago, a second one was only spotted in 2003 — and in the intervening years, scientists were unsure whether it was an entirely new species or just an individual snake with a weird growth on its tail. Since, just a handful of other members of the species have been found.

snake tailed horned viper

Do not mess with this snake. (Omid Mozaffari)

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