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Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) sp., Asiatic lance-headed vipers


  • 1. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) andalasensis
  • 2. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) borneensis
  • 3. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) brongersmai
  • 4. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) gracilis
  • 5. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) gramineus
  • 6. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) malabaricus
  • 7. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) puniceus
  • 8. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) strigatus
  • 9. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) trigonocephalus
  • 10. Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) wiroti


The genus Trimeresurus has been subject to extensive taxonomical revision.


Three new genera were proposed and are accepted today (David and Ineich 1999, David and Vogel 2015, Gumprecht et al. 2004, Kuch et al. 2007, Vogel et al. 2007): 






Based on morphological and molecular findings Malhotra and Thorpe (2004) proposed in addition to Trimeresurusthe following new genera:









Guo and Wang (2011) added a further genus: Sinovipera (with the sole species Sinovipera sichuanensis).


In addition, other genera wich have originally been described as Trimeresurus have been asigned to new genera:


Trimeresurus mangshanensis  -> Zhaoermia mangshanensis (Gumprecht et al. 2004) -> now Protobothrops mangshanensis (Snetkov and Orlov, 2017)

Trimeresurus mangshanensis -> Garthius chaseni (Das and Yaakob 2007)



David et al. (2011) proposed to adapt the findings of Malhotra and Thorpe but to define the new genera as 'clades'/subgenera. In this way information on the phylogenetic relationship among the different 'clades' would be reflected: 'It should also be emphasized that, on an external morphological basis, these subgenera are hardly diagnosable, and we think that recognizing “genera” that cannot be diagnosed morphologically is not a help to practising taxonomists, especially when they do not have access to molecular facilities. A “purely cladistic” concept of the genus in zoology is neither sufficient nor useful, as it does not provide any yardstick of comparison between related genera.'

This concept seems reasonable, especially from a toxinological point of view. So here the following subgenera are distiguished:

Trimeresurus (Trimeresurus)

Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus)

Trimeresurus (Himalayophis)

Trimeresurus (Parias)

Trimeresurus (Peltopelor)

Trimeresurus (Popeia)

Trimeresurus (Sinovipera)

Trimeresurus (Viridovipera)



Serpentes; Viperidae; Crotalinae

Common names

Asiatic lance-headed vipers, Bamboo pitvipers, Asiatische Lanzenottern, Bambusottern

  • 2. Bornean pitviper
  • 3. Brongersma's pitviper
  • 4. Kikushi Habu
  • 5. Bamboo pitviper
  • 6. Malabar rock pitviper
  • 7. Flat-nosed pitviper
  • 8. Horseshoe pitviper
  • 9. Sri Lankan green pitviper
  • 10. Wirot's pitviper



  Fig. 4.78  Arboreal type of Trimeresurus sp.


Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia and Taiwan. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.



Descriptions of the genus Trimeresurus according to the old classification (including the new subgenera/genera Craspedocephalus, Himalayophis, Ovophis, Parias, Peltopelor, Popeia, Protobothrops, Sinovipera, Trimeresurus, Tropidolaemus and Viridovipera):


Mostly smaller snakes under 1 m. Colouring and pattern very variable. T. (Trimeresurus) albolabris, T. (Craspedocephalus) gramineus, T. (Trimeresurus) erythrurus, T. (Trimeresurus) macrops, T. (Popeia) popeiorum and T. (Viridovipera) stejnegeri are green, but without markings, or only faint ones. Taxonomic differentiation of these green species, some of which are amongst the most medically important species of their genus, is difficult. Morphological distinctions frequently only consist of minor differences in the head shields. 

Most species are arboreal, but ground-dwelling species do exist. The arboreal species are green (see above), sometimes with markings (e.g. T. (Cryptelytrops) cantori, T. (Craspedocephalus) trigonocephalus, Prothobothrops jerdoni or Tropidolaemus wagleri), and possess a fairly well-formed prehensile tail. Some arboreal species often live on the outskirts and in the green areas of larger cities.

The ground-dwellers are usually of a brown colour with dark markings. Among others, Protobothrops flavoviridis and Protobothrops mucrosquamatus belong to this group and are found in wooded or open regions, but also often in agricultural areas and inhabited regions. Other ground-dwellers are the smaller mountain species Ovophis monticola, T. (Craspedocephalus) malabaricus and T. (Craspedocephalus) strigatus.


Descriptions of the genus Trimeresurus according to the old classification (including the new subgenera/genera Craspedocephalus, Himalayophis, Ovophis, Parias, Peltopelor, Popeia, Protobothrops, Sinovipera, Trimeresurus, Tropidolaemus and Viridovipera):


Bites from most species generally only cause local effects. The following species, however, also cause more serious consequences: T. (Trimeresurus) albolabris (rarely fatalities), T. (Trimeresurus) erythrurus, T. (Popeia) popeiorum, T. purpureomaculatus, Protobothrops flavoviridis (few, but regular fatalities) and Protobothrops mucrosquamatus (known fatalities in Taiwan).


There are several hundred bites each year due to Protobothrops flavoviridis on the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. Of these, approx. 50% occur in people working in the fields and approx. 20% in living quarters. Around 25% of cases have a severe course, with local necroses or systemic envenoming, and on average 8 patients die each year (Sawai et al. 1970, 1971b).

In Taiwan, Protobothrops mucrosquamatus is held responsible for half of all venomous snakebites (Sawai 1969).


T. (Trimeresurus) albolabris bites are common in Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, around 50% of all venomous snakebites are believed to be due to this species (Sawai et al. 1971b).

Literature (biological)

Aye 1990, Cox 1971, Daniel 1983, Das and Yaakob 2007, David et al. 2006, Deuve 1970, Gumprecht et al. 2004, Hoge and Romano-Hoge 1978, Malhotra and Thorpe 2004, Regenaß and Kramer 1981, Saint Girons 1972, Toriba 1990a, Toriba and Sawai 1990, Tweedie 1983, Whitaker and Captain 2004, Zhao 1990


The Reptile Database