We hypothesized that Palestine Saw-Scaled Vipers (Echis coloratus) select ambush sites that allow them to remain in a relatively cooler microclimate. During spring 2010, we identified the locations of 27 vipers in the Eilat Bird Sanctuary, Israel. Twenty-six (96%) of Vipers were recorded in 15 Salvadora persica, one (4%) in Zygophyllum dumosum, and none in Ochradenus baccatus. The temperature at the base of the S. persica was on average 6°C lower that in O. baccatus. We also found that the greater the apron radius of S. persica, the lower the temperature in the bush, and that bushes of S. persica occupied by vipers, have greater apron radius that those without snakes. We found that each of the snakes remained in the bush in which it was found during the whole three months of the study. We conclude that the cues used by E. coloratus for predicting future prey availability seem to be the structure of the microhabitat rather than prey odor. Our study is of conservation importance and enhances our understanding of habitat choice in this little-studied snake.
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Vol. 46 • No. 4