Bamboo pitviper, T. gramineus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Trimeresurus
Lacépède, 1804
  • Trimeresurus - Lacépède, 1804
  • Craspedocephalus - Kuhl & van Hassert, 1882
  • Trimeresura - Fleming, 1882
  • Crasedocephalus - Gray, 1825
  • Megaera - Wagler, 1830
  • Atropos - Wagler, 1830
  • Trimesurus - Gray, 1842[1]

Trimeresurus is a genus of venomous pitvipers found in Asia from Pakistan, through India, China, throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Currently 35 species are recognized.[2] Common names include Asian pit vipers,[3] Asian lanceheads and Asian lance-headed vipers.[4]



Most are relatively small, primarily arboreal species, with thin bodies and prehensile tails. They are typically green in color, but some species also have yellow, black, orange or red markings.


Their diet includes a variety of other animals, including rodents, lizards, amphibians and birds.


Like most viper species, they are ovoviviparous.


Their venom varies between species in toxicity, but all are primarily hemotoxic and considered to be medically significant to humans. Urban legends of a "Two step viper" have been created around this genus suggesting that a certain species has the toxicity to kill a person within seconds, a reasonable explanation however is that there is a possibility of major allergic reaction to toxins which might have been misconceived as a deadly new species' venom.

Geographic range

Southeast Asia from India to southern China and Japan, and the Malay Archipelago to Timor.[1]


Species[2] Taxon author[2] Subsp.*[2] Common name[5] Geographic range[1]
T. albolabris Gray, 1842 2 White-lipped pitviper India (Assam), Nicobar Islands, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, southern China (Fukien, Hainan, Kwangsi, Kwangtung), Hong Kong, West Malaysia, Indonesia (Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Madoera, Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Sumba, Roti, Timor, Kisar, Wetar).
T. borneensis (Peters, 1872) 0 Bornean pitviper Indonesia: Borneo.
T. brongersmai Hoge, 1969 0 Brongersma's pitviper Indonesia: Simalur Island.
T. cantori (Blyth, 1846) 0 Cantor's pitviper India: Nicobar Islands, and possibly the Andaman Islands.
T. cornutus M.A. Smith, 1930 0 Fan-Si-Pan horned pitviper Vietnam: Bach Ma and Tonkin. Occurs in rainforests at low elevations. Also in central Vietnam.[5]
T. elegans (Gray, 1849) 0 Elegant pitviper Japan: southern Ryukyu Islands.
T. erythrurus (Cantor, 1839) 0 Red-tailed bamboo pitviper India (Assam and Sikkim), Bangladesh and Myanmar.
T. fasciatus (Boulenger, 1896) 0 Banded pitviper Indonesia: Djampea Island.
T. flavomaculatus (Gray, 1842) 2 Philippine pitviper Philippine Islands: Agutayan, Batan, Camiguin, Catanduanes, Dinagat, Jolo, Leyte, Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros and Polillo.
T. flavoviridis (Hallowell, 1861) 0 Habu Japan: Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa and Amami Islands).
T. gracilis Oshima, 1920 0 Kikushi habu Central Taiwan.
T. gramineusT (Shaw, 1802) 0 Bamboo pitviper Southern India.
T. hageni (Lidth de Jeude, 1886) 0 Hagen's pitviper Peninsular Thailand, West Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (Sumatra and the nearby islands of Bangka, Simalur, Nias, Batu and the Mentawai Islands.
T. jerdonii Günther, 1875 2 Jerdon's pitviper India (Assam) through northern Myanmar to Tibet, China (Hupeh, Szechwan and Yunnan) and Vietnam.
T. kanburiensis M.A. Smith, 1943 0 Kanburi pitviper Thailand.
T. karanshahi Orlov & Helfenberger, 1997 0 Central Nepal in the Himalayas.
T. kaulbacki M.A. Smith, 1940 0 Kaulback's lance-headed pitviper Myanmar.
T. labialis Steindachner, 1867 0 Nicobar bamboo pitviper India: Nicobar Islands.
T. macrolepis Beddome, 1862 0 Large-scaled pitviper The mountains of southern India.
T. macrops Kramer, 1977 0 Large-eyed pitviper Thailand, Cambodia and southern Vietnam.
T. malabaricus (Jerdon, 1854) 0 Malabar rock pitviper Southern and western India at 600-2,000 m elevation.
T. mangshanensis Zhao, 1990 0 Mangshan pitviper China: Hunan Province.
T. maolanensis Yang, Orlov & Wang, 2011[6] 0 China: Guizhou
T. medoensis Zhao, 1977 0 Motuo bamboo pitviper Northern India, northern Myanmar and China (southeastern Xizang).
T. mucrosquamatus (Cantor, 1839) 0 Brown spotted pitviper India (Assam) and Bangladesh to Myanmar, China (Fukien, Kwangshi, Kwantung and Szechwan) and Taiwan.
T. phuketensis Sumontha, Kunya, S.G. Pauwels, Nitikul & Punnadee, 2011 [7] 0 Phuket pitviper Thailand: Phuket Island.
T. popeorum M.A. Smith, 1937 2 Pope's bamboo pitviper Northern India, Myanmar, Thailand, West Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia (Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands of Siberut, Sipora and North Pagai, and on the island of Borneo).
T. puniceus (Kuhl, 1824) 0 Flat-nosed pitviper Southern Thailand, West and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) and Indonesia (Borneo, Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands of Siberut and North Pagai, Simalur and Java.
T. purpureomaculatus (Gray, 1832) 1 Mangrove pit viper India (Assam and the Andaman Islands), Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, West Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (Sumatra).
T. schultzei Griffin, 1909 0 Schultze's pitviper Philippines: Palawan and Balabac.
T. stejnegeri Schmidt, 1925 2 Stejneger's bamboo pitviper India (Assam), and Nepal through Myanmar and Thailand to China (Kwangsi, Kwangtung, Hainan, Fukien, Chekiang, Yunnan) and Taiwan.
T. strigatus Gray, 1842 0 Horseshoe pitviper The hills of southern India.
T. sumatranus (Raffles, 1822) 1 Sumatran pitviper Southern Thailand, West and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo) and Indonesia (Bangka, Billiton, Borneo, Sumatra and the nearby islands of Simalur, Nias, and possibly the Mentawai Islands [Sipora]).
T. tibetanus Huang, 1982 0 Tibetan bamboo pitviper China: Xiang (Tibet) Autonomous Region.
T. tokarensis Nagai, 1928 0 Tokara habu Japan: Takarajima and Kotakarajima.
T. trigonocephalus (Donndorff, 1798) 0 Sri Lankan green pitviper Throughout Sri Lanka from low elevations to about 1,800 m.
T. xiangchengensis Zhao, Jiang & Huang, 1978 0 Kham Plateau pitviper China: Yunnan and western Sichuan.

*) Not including the nominate subspecies.
T) Type species.[1]


Species that may be recognized by other sources include:

  • T. andersonii - Theobald (1868). Commonly called Anderson's pit viper, found in the Andaman Islands of India.
  • T. barati - Regenass & Kramer (1981). Commonly called Barat's bamboo viper, found in Indonesia.
  • T. fucatus - Vogel, David & Pauwels (2004). Commonly called the Siamese peninsula pit viper and found in southern Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia.
  • T. gumprechti - David, Vogel, Pauwels & Vidal (2002). Commonly called Gumprecht's green pit viper and found in northeastern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, China and Myanmar.
  • T. insularis - Kramer (1977). Commonly called the white-lipped island pit viper and found in Indonesia.
  • T. malcolmi - Loveridge (1938). Commonly called Malcolm's pit viper and found on Borneo (Indonesia).
  • T. nebularis - Vogel, David & Pauwels (2004). Commonly called the Cameron Highlands pit viper and found in West Malaysia (Cameron Highlands).
  • T. sabahi - Regenass & Kramer (1981). Commonly called Sabah's bamboo viper and found on Borneo, Indonesia.
  • T. truongsonensis - Orlov, Ryabov, Thanh & Cuc (2004). Found in central Vietnam.
  • T. venustus - Vogel (1991). Commonly called the beautiful pit viper and found in southern Thailand.
  • T. vogeli - David, Vidal & Pauwels (2001). Commonly called Vogel's pit viper and found in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

The genus Trimeresurus sensu lato has been the subject of considerable taxonomic work since 2000, resulting in the recognition of additional genera within this complex. Most authors now recognise the genus Protobothrops for the species cornutus, flavoviridis, jerdonii, kaulbacki, mucrosquamatus, tokarensis, xiangchengensis,[8][9][10] since these have been shown not to be closely related to other Trimeresurus in recent phylogenetic analyses.

Malhotra and Thorpe (2004)[9] proposed a radical shake up of the entire genus, splitting Trimeresurus into seven genera. Their proposed arrangement (including species described since 2004) is shown in the table below:

Genus Species included
Trimeresurus andalasensis, borneensis, brongersmai, gramineus, malabaricus, puniceus, strigatus, trigonocephalus, wiroti
Cryptelytrops albolabris, andersonii, cantori, erythrurus, fasciatus, honsonensis (Hon Son Pit Viper), insularis, kanburiensis, labialis, macrops, purpureomaculatus, septentrionalis, venustus
Himalayophis tibetanus
Parias flavomaculatus, hageni, malcolmi, mcgregori, schultzei, sumatranus
Peltopelor macrolepis
Popeia barati, buniana, fucata, nebularis, popeiorum, sabahi
Viridovipera gumprechti, medoensis, stejnegeri, truongsonensis, vogeli, yunnanensis

This new arrangement has been followed by many,[10][11] but not all[12] subsequent authors.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ a b c d "Trimeresurus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 27 September 2006. 
  3. ^ Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  4. ^ U.S. Navy. 1991. Poisonous Snakes of the World. US Govt. New York: Dover Publications Inc. 203 pp. ISBN 0-486-26629-X.
  5. ^ a b Gumprecht A, Tillack F, Orlov NL, Captain A, Ryabov S. 2004. Asian Pitvipers. GeitjeBooks Berlin. 1st Edition. 368 pp. ISBN 3-937975-00-4.
  6. ^ Yang, J.-H., Orlov, N.I. & Wang, Y.-Y. (2011). "A new species of pitviper of the genus Protobothrops from China (Squamata: Viperidae)." Zootaxa 2936: 59-68.
  7. ^ Sumontha,M., Kunya,K., S. G. Pauwels,O., Nitikul,A., and Punnadee,S. (2011)."Trimeresurus (Popeia) phuketensis, a New Pitviper (Squamata: Viperidae) from Phuket Island, Southwestern Thailand". Russian Journal of Herpetology. 18;3: 11-17.
  8. ^ Kraus, F., Mink, D.G., Brown, W.M., 1996. Crotaline intergeneric relationships based on mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Copeia, 1996, 763-773.
  9. ^ a b Malhotra, A., Thorpe, R.S., 2004. A phylogeny of four mitochondrial gene regions suggests a revised taxonomy for Asian pitvipers (Trimeresurus and Ovophis). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32, 83-100.
  10. ^ a b Castoe, T.A., Parkinson, C.L., 2006. Bayesian mixed models and the phylogeny of pitvipers (Viperidae: Serpentes) Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 39, 91-110.
  11. ^ Grismer, L.L., J.L. Grismer & J.A. McGuire (2006) A new species of pitviper of the genus Popeia (Squamata: Viperidae) fromPulau Tioman, Pahang, West Malaysia. Zootaxa1305: 1-19.
  12. ^ Vogel, G. (2006) Venomous Snakes of Asia/Giftschlangen Asiens. Terralog, Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main

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