Poskok

Mystery Snake of Eastern Europe. Etymology: Serbo-Croatian, "jumper." Physical description: Length, 2-3 feet. Thickness, 1.5 inches. Gray to dark reddish-brown color.

Behavior: Venomous. Aggressive when disturbed. Can jump a distance of 5 feet, moving 3 feet into the air.

Distribution: Dalmatian Coast, Croatia; Sarajevo area, Bosnia; Montenegro.

Present status: No snake known to science has the ability to jump into the air from the ground. At best, snakes can lunge while striking. Golden tree snakes (Chrysopelea spp.) of Southeast Asia manage to jump from tree to tree. Possible explanations:

(1) One of Yugoslavia's whip snakes: the Balkan whip snake (Colubergemonensis), the Large whip snake (C. jugularis), Dahl's whip snake (C. najadum), or the Western whip snake (C. viridiflavus). These nonvenomous snakes are similar in size and color to the Poskok.

(2) One of the area's vipers: Orsini's viper (Vipera ursinii), the Common viper (V. berus), or the Nose-horned viper (V. ammodytes). The latter is especially venomous but has distinctive zigzag markings and a nose horn.

(3) Snakes seen on bushes or low trees are sometimes presumed to have jumped there. Sources: Maurice Burton, More Animal

Legends (London: Frederick Muller, 1959); Karl Shuker, "Sarajevo's Jumping Snake," Fortean Times, no. 123 (June 1999): 46.

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