Mock Viper – Venomous – Not Dangerous
Psammodynastes pulverulentus (Mock Viper, Dusky Mock Viper, Common Mock Viper)
Thais say: (ngoo mok)
Length: average about 75 cm (28 inches)
Range: All over Thailand and southeast Asia including Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam – even getting over to Nepal and the other way, Taiwan.
Habitat: Typically the mock vipers enjoy hilly regions. I found one at a local Buddhist temple (the mock viper you see in the images on this page) at the bottom of a limestone mountain, with a skink it had just killed in southern Thailand. Mock vipers can also be found under leaves and brush. Apparently they like a variety of habitat.
Active Time? Nocturnal primarily, but as I mentioned I found mine during the morning about 10:30am. These Thailand snakes are terrestrial – preferring the ground to trees.
Food: Skinks and other lizards, and of course, frogs – like nearly every other snake in Thailand! This mock viper also, occasionally eats other small snakes.
Defensive Behavior: Slow to bite, they coil up as most snakes and strike. I handled mine repeatedly and didn’t get struck at but a couple of times.
Venom Toxicity: Not strong enough to hurt humans. Don’t let it bite down on you for more than a couple of seconds though.
Offspring: This species is ovoviparous, embryos develop inside eggs which remain inside the mother where they hatch. Mating has been observed occurring for over one hour in a tank for m/f mocks in captivity.
Notes: These are really beautiful snakes. Mock vipers have a thick, strong body. They are not really vipers, but they do possess a weak venom that doesn’t affect humans much. They are rear fanged. Female mock vipers are larger than the males on average at adulthood.
READ THIS: There is a chance you will confuse it with the highly toxic venomous snake, the Malayan Pit Viper. I did. It has markings that are very similar, though it doesn’t have the giant triangular head of the Malayan pit viper – it is pretty close. I thought I had a mutant mock!
Mock Viper Video – One I caught in southern Thailand:
Common Mock Viper Scientific classification
Species: P. pulverulentus
Binomial name: Psammodynastes pulverulentus
(classified by H. Boie, in year 1827)