Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bamboo Pit Viper | Trimeresurus gramineus

Labels: Indian tree viper, Bamboo snake, Indian green tree viper, Green tree viper, bamboo viper

Binomial name: Trimeresurus gramineus
Common name: Bamboo Pit Viper

Scientific classification




















T. gramineus


Distinguishing Features: Small sized; slightly keeled scales; green above; wide, triangular head; thin neck.

Average Length: 40 cm; At Birth: 16 cm; Maximum: 80 cm.

Description: Bamboo Pit Vipers are pale green with a slight, uneven black pattern on the back. Their head is wide and triangular, placed on a slim delicate neck. The scales on the top of their head are tiny whereas the dorsal body scales are slightly keeled. These snakes are one of the most common of the Green Pit Vipers of India. The Green Pit Vipers are mainly arboreal, living in vines, bushes and bamboo; but the many-coloured ones like the Rock Pit Vipers are terrestrial, preferring rock cliffs, tree bases and stream edges. The diverse species tend to have temperature, elevation and humidity preferences.

Distribution: They are mainly found in the drier parts of the Western Ghats and parts of Eastern Ghats including Gingee in Eastern Tamil Nadu. The Himalayan Pit Viper sets the world altitude record for a snake, occurring up to 4,800 m in the Himalayas. There are 5 species of pit vipers in the Andaman and Nicobar, 5 in the Western Ghats and 8 in the Himalayas, east to Assam.

Habitat: They generally prefer cool, thick vegetation near stream edges, bamboo and other dense jungle foliage.

Habits: They are slow moving snakes and are active at night and sleep in the open by day. They protect themselves by camouflage. Although slow to defend themselves, they are capable of fast strikes and bites if injured or seriously troubled. They often vibrate their tail when frightened or cornered.

Young: Female gives birth to 4 or 5 young ones. The young possess brightly marked tails which they use as worm-like lures to attract small frogs and lizards. This remarkable habit is also observed in the New World Pit Vipers.

Food: Small ones feed on frogs and lizards. Larger ones tend to prefer rodents but seem to take frogs as well.

Status: As all Indian Pit Vipers are forest snakes, the loss of dense forested areas, particularly the evergreen rain forests, is reducing the population of several species.

Venom: Pit Vipers are rather small and their venom is low in toxicity, hence their bites are rarely serious. Bites are common in some plantation areas, but the victims are generally only incapacitated for a day or two.

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