Reptile specialist Brady Barr 21>> was on a filming expedition 11>> in Costa Rica to capture the natural behavior of the deadly fer-de-lance snake:

  • We wanted to get the fer-de-lance 47>> to strike right at the camera, but for whatever reason we could not get this one snake to strike.

  • ...the fer-de-lance detects its prey through these heat-sensitive organs [pits] on the front of its face....The sound guy said, “I’ve got a lot of these nine-volt batteries....”

  • Obviously the pits actually work, because that snake struck at the camera, grabbed the whole lens in its mouth, repeatedly striking—we couldn’t even get the camera away from the snake.

  • We got some incredible footage of this fer-de-lance coming straight at the camera. You can look right down its throat as it grabs the camera lens in its mouth—and we all have a nine-volt battery to thank for that shot.

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© 1999 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.

Brady On Snake Sense

A Striking Snake

Photographs 11 and 21 by
Jason Williams

Photograph 47 by
Tony Black