Exploring Nature in India – Pit Vipers


The Pit Viper is a Crotalinae, which is a subgroup of vipers that are venomous. They have a pit organ in the center of their heads that is heat-sensing which means it is great at hunting their warm-blooded prey even when there is no light at all. There are more than 28 species in India where they prefer the areas that see a lot of rainfall. There is a threat to these reptiles in the form of loss of habitat. Their venomous nature makes them less well regarded out of fear so it is important that people start seeing how awesome they are so more can be done to help them. Here is a look at just 7 of India’s Pit Vipers.

1) Salazar’s Pit Viper

This is the most recently discovered and named type of Pit Viper, named after JK Rowlings Salazar Slytherin in the Harry Potter series. It is a nocturnal viper and is green with males having an orangey-red stripe on their heads. It was discovered by Dr. Zeeshan Mirza and their research group who are all Potter fans.

2) Large-scaled Pit Viper

These vipers like to live in higher elevations in shola grasslands and hilly forest patches, but can also be seen in the plantations in those areas especially cardamon, coffee and tea ones. This Pit Viper is being impacted by tourism and losing its habitat and is a protected species as a result.

3) Red-tailed Pit Viper

Also known as the Redtail bamboo Pit Viper, likes to live in damp or humid forest environments and can be found mostly in Sikkim and Assam. It eats small mammals and amphibians. It is not listed as a priority in its conservation status but as with all the other pit vipers its habitat is being impacted.

4) Hump-nosed Pit Viper

Also known as Merrem’s hump-nosed Pit Viper this is one of the most common species and can be found across both India and Sri Lanka. They like to hang out in dense forests and coffee plantations and hide in and hunt from thick bushes and in leaf litter on the ground.

5) Medo Pit Viper

This is a rare Pit Viper and lives in wet forests and can be found near bamboo groves where it likes to find dead bamboo to hibernate on. This one is a tree dweller but it can be seen hunting on the ground. Not as much is known about whether it is a threatened species.

6) Bamboo Pit Viper

This one is known as the Common Bamboo Viper and as the Indian Green Pit Viper. It too likes the bamboo groves you find in forests but has also been seen in mangroves and scrub forests. It is a slow-moving viper.

7) Himalayan Pit Viper

As the name indicates you can find this in the Himalayans, usually on the lower slopes but at altitudes around 16,000 feet! It is mostly nocturnal and is slow and feeds on centipedes and millipedes as well as small mammals. Sadly a lot of times this Pit Viper is killed by humans afraid of them.

Consider a visit to Dubare forest!

When you are looking to experience and learn about the wildlife of India there is no better experience than heading out to one of the fantastic national parks, forests and sites. Found close to the Nagarahole National Park, Dubare Forest is a great place to explore for people of all ages. There are walks on the forest boundary if you want to see different forest birds and other sightings, you might even catch an elusive Pit Viper! You can also easily explore by jeep safari. Enjoy amazing waterfalls, adventurous outdoor activities, wildlife, plants, and more.

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