This spine-tingling video shows the moment a ‘defensive’ viper propelled itself at a photographer with the ferocity of its strike captured in stunning slow-motion.
The fear-inducing footage shows the vibrant green snake with beady red eyes twisted around a tree in the forests of Thailand before it launches itself towards the camera – showing off its impressive bite.
While the video 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.
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.
But reptile enthusiast Ross, 32, explained that in this instance the snake was simply lashing out in defense after detecting the heat from the cameras.
Firefighter Ross, of Perth, Western Australia, said: “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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“It was great to be able to witness that behavioural aspect of these amazing reptiles.
“You can just imagine a little bird wouldn’t stand a chance. The way its jaw opens up is incredible.”
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.
While snake catching, Ross got chatting to a couple of photographers and realised he could combine all his greatest lifelong passions – reptiles, travelling and photography.
While there is an adrenalin rush from being around potentially deadly reptiles, Ross said the best thing for him is getting to discover new places and learn about new species.
Ross said: “Reptiles have always been passion of mine, ever since childhood.
“I think it started with a love for dinosaurs and then one day I realised reptiles are just like small dinosaurs.
“As I got older I developed a love for travelling and then I got into travel photography but it wasn’t until I was working as a snake catcher that I realised I could combine it all into one. It’s great.
“It takes me to places that you would never go if you were just visiting somewhere as a tourist.
“You would never catch a tourist hiking through Thailand’s forests at night looking for snakes.
“There is a definite adrenalin rush but for me there is nothing better than travelling to a new place and seeing new species of reptiles.
“I always have my head stuck in books trying to learn as much as possible.
“And I love being able to share that experience with people through my photographs and educate people more about reptiles.
“People tend to think they’re scary and not like them because they’re not cute and cuddly but they are fascinating animals.”