Length: Maximum of 1.7 meters. Russel’s around 1 meter long are common.
Range: These snakes are found around Bangkok, West, North, and East of Bangkok. The Russel’s photos shown here are from Sa Kaeo province near Cambodia.
Habitat: These snakes are terrestrial and prefer grassy lowland, and open areas of all sorts. They prefer dry air and ground. Siamese vipers are not known to be found in dense rainforest or other very humid areas often.
Active Time? Nocturnal.
Food: Mostly rodents, but will target lizards and frogs as well.
Defensive Behavior: A loud hiss can precede a bite. When striking, it coils first and strikes. This snake is strong, so bites can be deep. Simple rubber boots are probably not sufficient to stop the fangs from penetration.
Venom Toxicity: Very strong. The rate of envenomation is estimated at 80% of bites. That’s high in comparison to Malayan pit vipers for instance, which is closer to 50%. Coagulopathy is common and necrosis is a possibility. Renal failure is common.
Russell’s Viper Antivenin is made at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Snake Institute in Bangkok.
Offspring: Need information for this section.
Notes: Across the globe, it has been estimated that bites from this snake kill more people than any other. This snake (Daboia vipers) are present across Asia and their bite is deep. They have strong fangs and their venom is very strong.
Russel’s have thick necks and they are the thickest of the vipers in Thailand, by far.
Color of Russel’s tends to be shades of brown.
A rather unknown occurrence – years after a bite, a man’s testicles may shrivel up, and there can be a loss of body hair. Info here.
Appearance: Green snake (งูเขียว) with brown or reddish-orange scales which may form bands across the width of the snake. Triangular pit viper head.
Thais Say: Haang Ham tai
Length: average 40-70 cm
Range: Chumpon to Krabi Province in Thailand. I have found them in Krabi and Surat Thani provinces.
Notes: I found this one in the picture on a small hill at a Buddhist temple on a hill next to some steps. These venomous snakes are active on the ground and in bushes. This one was in a bush about 1.3 meters high, right next to the path. It was non-aggressive and didn’t protest when I moved it away from the path with a stick.
Appearance: Small vipers with usually brilliant greens, whites, and browns. Though sometimes the color can be quite muted. Dorsal scales are strongly keeled. Dorsal scale count 21 – 21 – 15.
Habitat: I’ve found these vipers up to 300 meters elevation. This snake hunts almost entirely on the ground where it preys on frogs and lizards. They also enjoy primary and secondary rainforest, limestone mountains, and rubber tree plantations. I kept one of these for three days to photograph and shoot video of. It spends most time suspended from a branch just a few inches off the bottom of the tank.
Active Time? The snake is mainly nocturnal. Active during the day only after heavy rainfall. I have found most of mine during daylight hours, but have also found them at night hunting prey on the ground in ambush position in culverts on certain hills.
Food: Mice, frogs, lizards. I had a good-sized house gecko in the tank with this Trimeresurus venustus, but it left it alone. The pit vipers sense the heat of the animal and strike. The geckos are cold-blooded so they are no hotter than their surroundings. Still, some pit vipers will eat cold-blooded animals. Perhaps this snake just wasn’t hungry at the moment.
Defensive Behavior: This pit viper is very slow during the day and only bites if seriously aggravated. I ran into a reptile poacher in a Thailand forest and he was hand carrying one of these brown spotted green pit vipers in his left hand and had a large box turtle in his other hand. I told him – PIT! It means ‘venomous’ in Thai. He insisted “no, it wasn’t” and held it up to his face where the snake immediately bit him on the cheek a couple times and once on the lip where it got stuck. It let go after a few seconds. He said – “See??” I promptly bought the snake from him, to keep him from further harm. Not sure what hospital he was at that night!
Venom Toxicity: Mildly toxic, but complications can develop. Bites are painful and usually without significant effects. Probably this viper would need to bite down for a number of seconds to transfer enough volume of venom that it would be seriously detrimental, but they are fully capable of doing so. Bites are to be considered potentially deadly. Green Pit Viper Antivenin is available at most public hospitals in Thailand.
Antivenom Code: SAsTRC01 Antivenom Name: Green Pit Viper Antivenin Manufacturer: Science Division, Thai Red Cross Society Phone: +66-2-252-0161 (up to 0164) Address: Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, 1871 Rama IV Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Country: Thailand
Offspring: The beautiful pit viper I have now is likely gravid, which contradicts some other info I’ve seen about them having offspring in the June/July time-frame. This is December. She is not overly gravid and looks to be in the beginning stages, but still – I think only a couple of months are required for gestation. She’ll have an early birth – April maybe? These snakes birth live offspring in a jelly-like bubble that breaks after coming out of the female snake. Typical numbers are 20-30 young that are colored and patterned the same as the adults.
Psammodynastes pulverulentus (Mock Viper, Dusky Mock Viper, Common Mock Viper)
Thais say: ngoo mok
Length: Adults 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. Recently we found two of them in some leaf litter on a mountain. Apparently they like a variety of habitat.
Active Time? Nocturnal primarily, but as I mentioned I found one during the morning about 10:30 am., and I found two more at night around 10 pm. 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. The adult mock viper I found in the morning was eating a large skink. 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: Probably not toxic enough to hurt people or large pets. Rear-fanged, but not know to cause medically significant bites.
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.
Note – Males have 3 hemi-penises, one of very few snakes with this anatomy.
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.
IMPORTANT: There is a chance you will confuse it with the highly toxic venomous snake, the Malayan Pit Viper. 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 Malayan pit viper when I first found this species.
Video – Mock Viper Found at Night
Video – Mock Viper I Caught in the morning in Southern Thailand:
Common Mock Viper Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Order: Squamata Suborder: Serpentes Family: Colubridae Genus: Psammodynastes Species: P. pulverulentus Binomial name: Psammodynastes pulverulentus (classified by H. Boie, in year 1827)
Length: Usually less than 1 meter. Female Malayan Pit Vipers are the larger and fatter snakes. Males of the species don’t make it to 1 meter long. I have only seen two in 12 years that were close to 1 meter long.
Range: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Malaysia, Vietnam, Burma, and China.
Notes: These vipers are similar to North American “copperhead” snakes. They prefer dry, flat areas. They are known as lazy snakes. They may not move out of the way at all if someone is walking right toward them. After they bite they are known to remain in the same location. There are thousands of bites per year in Malaysia and Thailand from this snake.
These snakes are so dangerous when handled because they are not consistent with their behavior. One day they will be calm. The next, or the next 10 minutes – they will violently strike out lightening fast. Their preferred habitat is under dry leaves, wood, or rocks. They are active during the night mostly, especially during rain.
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Nickname: Finger rotters – given by Al Coritz, Viperkeeper on YouTube. If they get you in the finger – you’ll likely lose part of your finger, hand, or arm without immediate care.
Habitat: Forests, rubber plantations, bamboo patches, farmland, grassland. Often lies in the short or long grass. These are terrestrial snakes that I’ve never seen climb anything.
Active Time? Day if cloudy and/or rainy, and night.
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Defensive Behavior: Partially coiled with neck in an “S”. Their strike is very fast. Their fangs are long – and in the front of the mouth. Some strikes are short, others involve the whole body as it “jumps” at the same time it strikes. Don’t underestimate the distance this snake can reach when striking. Also, this snake is VERY good at striking behind its head. Watch the video.
This pit viper has the longest fangs of any other snake in Thailand – including the Siamese Viper (D. siamensis).
Venom Toxicity: Very toxic. Venom is necrotoxic – it destroys all cells it comes in contact with – red blood cells, muscle, and ligaments. With a quick hospital visit after a bite you may just lose part of your finger or some tissue where the bite occurred. The venom causes a bite victim to bleed from body orifices – eyes, nose, mouth, ears, sexual organs, and sometimes fatally in the brain. Most people don’t die if they go to the hospital. Deaths occur when bite victims delay seeking medical treatment. There is an antivenom for this snake.
If you are bitten by this snake, do NOT wrap a tight band around the bite location. That will stop the venom from moving, from being diluted, and the tissue will suffer much more destruction.
Offspring: Lay eggs. Female guards them. Young are about 9 inches long and fast and thin. They are fully able to bite, and have full strength venom.
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Order: Squamata Suborder: Serpentes Family: Viperidae Subfamily: Crotilinae Genus: Calloselasma Species: C. rhodostoma
Binomial Classification: Calloselasma rhodostoma
Video – Malayan Pit Viper Color Variety in Thailand
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Length: Males are about 1/2 meter and females are typically just over 1 meter.
Description: Short stubby snakes with large (in comparison to body and neck) triangular heads.
Range: Thailand, on the far west coast from far north to the very far south along the peninsula. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan, Vietnam, Tibet.
Habitat: The mountain pit viper pictured above was found at the base of a waterfall on damp ground covered with small round rocks. These snakes can also be found up over 2,000 meters in altitude. They seem to prefer tea plantations and other areas with a lot of vegetation. They have also been found in homes.
The exact location of the snake here was Ton Pariwat Waterfall in Phang Nga, Thailand.
Active Time: The literature says nocturnal, but this snake was found in bright sunshine in the middle of the day.
Food: Mice and other rodents and small mammals, lizards, insectivores. One guy that keeps these snakes posted in a forum that his mountain viper bites the prey and constricts it too and wonders why the overkill when most vipers will bite and hold, or bite and follow until the prey dies. I think this probably has something to do with the mountain viper not being all that mobile. I couldn’t imagine it going fast through brush to chase something down that wasn’t dead yet. Especially the males of the species – they look like slugs – short and fat.
Defensive Behavior: These snakes hiss loudly and strike quickly. We don’t have information about fang-length, but the head resembles the Malayan Pit Viper which has very long fangs. As usual with venomous snakes, great care should be taken when in close proximity.
Venom Toxicity: The venom has been known to cause fatalities. The rating by Toxinology.com was mid-scale, meaning moderate to seriously toxic.
Bite Treatment: Bite victims of the Malayan mountain pit viper will be painful, swell, have blistering and minimal or no necrosis, bleeding and shock may result.
Antivenom: There is no antivenom
Notes: The snake shown here was found by a 6 year old boy who was kicking it. He thought it was a stick that was bouncing back at him when he kicked it. Turns out the snake was striking repeatedly. The boy was not bitten, his mother saw him and stopped him. These are slow moving snakes, terrestrial and primarily nocturnal the literature reads – but this snake was found in the sunshine in the heat of the day.
A reader, Jeremy Gatten, sent this photo (used with permission) of a green pit viper he found one night while looking for owls near Wat Tham Pha Plong near Chiang Dao in Thailand’s north. I was thinking it was. He had squatted down to rest and heard a little rustle in the brush – and found this amazing specimen of… well, pit viper. I don’t know which one it is – but, I’m guessing it’s the White Lipped Pit Viper.
Jeremy himself narrowed it down to one of two – either Trimeresurus macrops or Trimeresurus albolabris (White Lipped Pit Viper).
What do you think?
Note – do be very careful not to be bitten by any of the green pit vipers, their venom – while not usually deadly – is quite strong and can cause havoc in the human body. Vipers are typically identified (in general) by their small size (< 1 meter) and the triangle shaped head.
Thailand Snakes covers venomous and non-venomous snakes in Thailand and surrounding countries. Cobras, Kraits, Vipers, Corals, Rat Snakes, Tree Snakes, Whip Snakes, Pipe Snakes, Kukris, Pythons, and more.