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V. ammodytes grows to a maximum total length (body + tail) of 95 cm (37.5 in), although individuals usually measure less than 85 cm (33.5 in). Maximum length also depends on race, with northern forms distinctly larger than southern ones. According to Strugariu (2006), the average total length is 50–70 cm (19.5–27.5 in) with reports of specimens over 1 m (39 in) in total length. Females are usually larger and more heavily built, although the largest specimens on record are males. The head is covered in small, irregular scales that are either smooth or only weakly keeled, except for a pair of large supraocular scales that extend beyond the posterior margin of the eye. 10-13 small scales border the eye, and two rows separate the eye from the supralabials. The nasal scale is large, single (rarely divided), and separated from the rostral by a single nasorostral scale. The rostral scale is wider than it is long. The most distinctive characteristic is a single "horn" on the snout, just above the rostral scale. It consists of 9-17 scales arranged in 2 (rarely 2 or 4) transverse rows. It grows to a length of about 5 mm (0.20 in) and is actually soft and flexible. In southern subspecies, the horn sits vertically upright, while in V. a. Ammodytes it points diagonally forward.
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