Pit vipers are a subfamily (Crotalinae) of the vipers, Family Viperidae, and include the rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, copperheads, hognosed vipers, jumping vipers, palm vipers, and bushmasters. All pit vipers are characterized by the presence of facial pits, a heat-sensitive organ used to detect prey. Like many pit vipers, the fer-de-lance is a sit-and-wait predator, using its cryptic coloration to ambush passing prey.
Fer-de-lance ranges from northeastern Mexico through Colombia and Ecuador, and is largely ubiquitous throughout its range, occurring in both wet and dry regions, high and low elevations, and in primary forest to areas of high disturbance and human activity. It is also very prolific, having a litter size of up to 86 young.
It also has highly potent venom, and is responsible for many snakebites to humans each year in Central America (primarily to farmers and fieldworkers), more than any other tropical snake. Despite its relevance to human health, very little data exists on the behavior, movements, or habitat usage of the species in the wild.