Thai National Parks

Reptiles of Thailand

Species of Thailand

White-lipped pit viper

Thai: งูเขียวหางไหม้ท้องเหลือง, ngu khieow hang mai thong lueang

Binomial name: Trimeresurus albolabris, John Edward Gray, 1842

Trimeresurus albolabris, the white-lipped pit viper, is a venomous pit viper species endemic to Southeast Asia. Three subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.

Description

Maximum total length males 600 mm, females 810 mm; maximum tail length males 120 mm, females 130 mm.

Head scalation consists of 10-11(12) upper labials, the first partially or completely fused to the nasal. Head scales small, subequal, feebly imbricate, smooth or weakly keeled. The supraoculars are narrow (occasionally enlarged and undivided) with 8-12 interocular scales between them. Temporal scales smooth.

Midbody has 21 (rarely 19) longitudinal dorsal scale rows. The ventral scales are 155-166 in males, 152-176 in females. The subcaudals are paired, 60-72 in males, 49-66 in females. The hemipenes are without spines.

Color pattern: green above, the side of the head below the eyes is yellow, white or pale green, much lighter than rest of head. The belly is green, yellowish or white below. A light ventrolateral stripe is present in all males, but absent in females. The end of tail is not mottled brown.

Common names

Common names include green tree pit viper, white-lipped pit viper, white-lipped tree viper, white-lipped green pit viper and white-lipped bamboo pit viper.

Geographic range

Found in northeastern India (Assam and Jharkhand), Nicobar Islands, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, southern China (Fukien, Hainan, Kwangsi, Kwangtung), Hong Kong, Philippines, West Malaysia, Indonesia (Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Madoera, Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Sumba, Roti, Timor, Kisar, Wetar). The type locality given is "China".

Taxonomy

Giannasi et al. (2001) raised insularis and septentrionalis to species level.

Malhotra & Thorpe (2004) transferred this species (and a number of others) to the genus Cryptelytrops. David et al. (2011) returned it to the genus Trimeresurus and assigned it the subgenus Trimeresurus, creating the new combination Trimeresurus (Trimeresurus) albolabris.

Diet

Its meals consist of birds, small frogs, and small mammals. This snake doesn't strike and release its prey; like many arboreal snakes, it strikes and holds on to the prey item until it dies.

Venom

Results of bites from this species range from mild envenoming to death. The venom of white-lipped pitviper contains procoagulant properties. There have been numerous reported bites with few fatalities.

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Site notes

Identifying T. albolabris, T. macrops and T. vogeli:
White-lipped pit viper (T. albolabris):

The most common pit-viper in Thailand.

  • Upper lip: often yellow or yellow-white, sometimes green
  • Face Line: start under the eye, white, sometimes a bit difficult to see
  • Body Line: White sometimes a bit brown-red line under. Sometimes yellow-white
  • Lower lip and chin: yellow, sometimes green
  • Tail: Red-brown line start on top of the tail
  • Body: Bright green
  • Belly: green or yellow
Large-eyed Pit Viper (T. macrops):
  • Upper lip: Blue-green
  • Face Line: usually start under the eye, blue or white
  • Body Line: white or blue
  • Lower lip and chin: white-blue
  • Tail: Red-brown line on top of the tail
  • Body: Blue-green
  • Belly: Green
Vogel's Pit Viper (T. vogeli):
  • The tail of T. vogeli is an easy detail to differenciate from other two species.
  • Upper lip: Bright green in female, pale green in male
  • Face Line: Mostly no line on the face, sometimes males have a a bit of a line behind the eye, not under the eye. 
  • Body Line: Male have white line, sometimes with bit red-brown line. Female yellow line
  • Lower lip and chin: Bright green in female, pale green in male
  • Tail: grey-brown sometimes almost purple tail
  • Body: Bright green in female, pale green in male. Male sometimes has small white dots. Blue skin between scales.
  • Belly: Bright green

* Thanks to Ton Smits for clarifying identification

Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Suborder
Serpentes
Family
Viperidae
Genus
Trimeresurus
Species
Trimeresurus albolabris

Common names

  • German: Weisslippen-Bambusotter
  • English:
    • White-lipped pit viper
    • Green pit viper
    • White-lipped tree viper
    • White-lipped bamboo viper
    • White-lipped island pit viper
    • Northern white-lipped pit viper
    • White-lipped green pit viper
  • Thai: งูเขียวหางไหม้ท้องเหลือง, ngu khieow hang mai thong lueang

Subspecies

  • T. a. albolabris, John Edward Gray, 1842

    Common name: White-lipped pit viper

    Range: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan, Hong Kong, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Guizhou and Yunnan), India (Assam and Nicobar Islands), Indonesia (Sumatra, Bangka, western Java and Madura), Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

  • T. a. insularis, Eugen Kramer, 1977

    Common name: White-lipped island pit viper

    Range: Indonesia: eastern Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Adonara, Lembata, Pantar, Alor, Roti, Semau, Timor, Wetar, Kisar and Romang.

  • T. a. septentrionalis, Eugen Kramer, 1977

    Common name: Northern white-lipped pit viper

    Range: Northern India (Kashmir) and Nepal.

Synonyms

  • Cryptelytrops albolabris, Tanya Chan-Ard et al. (2015)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2014)
  • Trimeresurus (Trimeresurus) albolabris, Patrick David et al. (2011)
  • Cryptelytrops albolabris, Anita Malhotra & Roger Stephen Thorpe (2004)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris, Roy W. McDiarmid, Jonathan A. Campbell & T'Shaka A. Touré (1999)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris albolabris, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris albolabris, Kenneth R. G. Welch (1994)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris albolabris, Urs Regenass & Eugen Kramer (1981)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris albolabris, Eugen Kramer (1977)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris, Clifford Hillhouse Pope & Sarah Haydock Pope (1933)
  • Lachesis grammineus (sic), Léo Daniël Brongersma (1929)
  • Trimeresurus gramineus albolabris, R. Mell (1929)
  • Lachesis gramineus albolabris, R. Mell (1922)
  • Lachesis gramineus, George Albert Boulenger (1896)
  • Trimeresurus gramineus, George Albert Boulenger (1890)
  • Bothrops erythrurus, Theodorus Willem van Lidth de Jeude (1890)
  • Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus var. bicolor), George Albert Boulenger (1890)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris, William Theobald (1879)
  • Trimesurus albolabris, John Edward Gray (1849)
  • Trigonocephalus gramineus, Theodore Edward Cantor (1847)
  • Trimeresurus albolabris, John Edward Gray (1842)
  • Trimesurus albolabris, John Edward Gray (1842)
  • Trigonocephalus viridis, Hermann Schlegel & Salomon Müller (1842)
  • Coluber gramineus, Thomas Stamford Raffles (1822)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Trimeresurus albolabris (female)

Trimeresurus albolabris (female)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Trimeresurus albolabris (female, brownish eyed)

Trimeresurus albolabris (female, brownish eyed)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Trimeresurus albolabris (female)

Trimeresurus albolabris (female)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Trimeresurus albolabris (male)

Trimeresurus albolabris (male)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Trimeresurus albolabris (male)

Trimeresurus albolabris (male)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

White-lipped pit viper (head)

White-lipped pit viper (head)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Trimeresurus albolabris (juvenile, male)

Trimeresurus albolabris (juvenile, male)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Trimeresurus albolabris (juvenile, female)

Trimeresurus albolabris (juvenile, female)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Distribution map of White-lipped pit viper, Trimeresurus albolabris in Thailand
  • Ban Lat District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Na San District, Surat Thani
  • Bang Kruai District, Nonthaburi
  • Bang Saphan District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Doi Chiang Dao
  • Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Doi Phu Kha National Park
  • Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
  • Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Huai Yang Waterfall National Park
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Kaeng Tana National Park
  • Kanchanadit District, Surat Thani
  • Kham Thale So District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kui Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Mae Fa Luang District, Chiang Rai
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Wong National Park
  • Mueang Mae Hong Son District, Mae Hong Son
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Nam Nao National Park
  • Namtok Phlio National Park
  • Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pak Thong Chai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Phanom District, Surat Thani
  • Photharam District, Ratchaburi
  • Phu Luang District, Loei
  • Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Phu Suan Sai National Park
  • Phu Wua Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Prachantakham District, Prachinburi
  • Pua District, Nan
  • Sai Yok National Park
  • Sakaerat Environmental Research Station
  • Samoeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Song Khwae District, Nan
  • Song Phi Nong District, Suphan Buri
  • Suan Phueng District, Ratchaburi
  • Sung Noen District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Ta Phraya National Park
  • Tat Mok National Park
  • Tha Song Yang District, Tak
  • Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi
  • Thung Yai District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Umphang District, Tak
  • Watthana Nakhon District, Sa Kaeo
  • Wichian Buri District, Phetchabun
  • Yan Ta Khao District, Trang

Range map of Trimeresurus albolabris in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits and Parinya Pawangkhanant for their help with many range data.

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