Active from dusk until dawn, and well-camouflaged amongst the sand and rocks, the most obvious sign of the Arabian horned viper’s presence is usually the sinuous tracks it leaves while employing its sidewinding method of locomotion (5). This species is an efficient predator and uses both active pursuit as well as ambush to capture prey. In the latter technique the Arabian horned viper buries its body and head beneath the sand using rapid side-to-side wriggling, until only the eyes and snout are exposed (4). The snake then lays in wait for prey such as lizards, small birds and rodents to approach, before striking with lightning speed and injecting the animal with its powerful venom (4) (5). The venom acts quickly, killing a house sparrow in 27 to 90 seconds, at which point the snake swallows its victim whole (3) (4).
Despite its deadly capabilities, the Arabian horned viper falls prey to larger predators such as desert monitors (4). When threatened, this species coils its body and rubs its keeled scales together to create a rasping sound, and it will also hiss and inflate its body before resorting to striking (4) (5).
The Arabian horned viper mates between April and June, with egg-laying taking place between July and August. A clutch of 8 to 20 soft-shelled eggs is laid, which hatch after around six to eight weeks, with the young already measuring between 14.5 and 17.5 cm in length (4).