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Reptiles of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Wagler's palm pit viper

Thai: งูเขียวตุ๊กแก, ngu khieow tukgae

Binomial name: Tropidolaemus wagleri, Heinrich Boie, 1827

Tropidolaemus wagleri is a venomous pitviper species native to Southeast Asia. No subspecies are currently recognized. It is sometimes referred to as the temple viper because of its abundance around the Temple of the Azure Cloud in Malaysia.


The specific name, wagleri, is in honor of German herpetologist Johann Georg Wagler.


This species is sexually dimorphic: the females grow to approximately 1 m frac=4 in total length, while males typically do not exceed 75 cm frac=4. They have a large triangular-shaped head, with a relatively thin body. They are almost entirely arboreal, and the tail is prehensile to aid in climbing.

They are found in a wide variety of colors and patterns, often referred to as "phases". In the past, some researchers classified the different phases as subspecies. The phases vary greatly from having a black or brown coloration as a base, with orange and yellow banding to others having a light green as the base color, with yellow or orange banding, and many variations therein.

Common names

Wagler's pit viper, temple viper, temple pit viper, bamboo snake, temple snake, speckled pit viper, temple pitviper.

Geographic range

Found in southern Vietnam from the provinces of Minh Hai and Song Be, in southern Thailand recorded from the provinces of Phang Nga, Pattani, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Tammarat, Narathiwat, and Yala, probably distributed throughout the Peninsula in west Malaysia, in Singapore and in Indonesia on Sumatra, the islands of the Riau Archipelago, Bangka, Billiton, Nias, the Mentawai Islands (Siberut), Natuna, and Karimata. "In a revision by Vogel et al. (2007) the Tropidolaemus wagleri species complex was differentiated into several taxa, including the resurrection of T. subannulatus. The Western Philippine populations belong to T. subannulatus, but those from Mindanao include snakes assigned to both this species and T. philippensis. Tropidolaemus subannulatus has a wide distribution in Central Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines, Twagleri is restricted to mainland Southeast Asia, down to Sumatra and Bangka, West Indonesia."


Nocturnal and arboreal, they appear quite sluggish as they remain motionless for long periods of time waiting for prey to pass by. When prey does pass by, or if disturbed, they can strike quickly.


Their primary diet consists of rodents, birds, and lizards. The pits on the sides of the head between the eyes and nostrils are capable of detecting temperature difference of as little as 0.003 degree Celsius.


Sexually mature females of T. wagleri bear live young by ovoviviparity. Litter size varies from 15 to 41.


The venom of Tropidolaemus wagleri contains 4 novel peptides (Waglerins 1-4). The Waglerins produce fatal respiratory paralysis of adult mice. An initial study indicated that micromolar concentrations of Waglerin 1 act both pre- and postsynaptically to inhibit transmission across rat neuromuscular junctions. However, Waglerin-1 is a more potent inhibitor of transmission across the mouse neuromuscular junction. A subsequent study demonstrated that Waglerin-1 inhibited the adult mouse endplate response to acetylcholine with an IC50 of 50 nanomolar. In striking contrast, transmission across neuromuscular junctions of neonatal or transgenic mice lacking the adult acetylcholine receptor was not altered by micromolar concentrations of Waglerin-1. Biochemical studies demonstrated that the exquisite selectivity of Waglerin-1 for the adult mouse acetylcholine receptor relies upon several amino acid residues unique to the epsilon subunit of the adult mouse acetylcholine receptor. Waglerin-1's selectivity for the epsilon-subunit containing acetylcholine receptor of adult mice is complemented by selectivity of small peptide toxins purified from the venom of Conus geographus and pergrandis for the gamma-subunit containing acetylcholine receptor of neonatal skeletal muscle. The Waglerins and complementary conotoxins are useful tools to discover the contribution of acetylcholine receptor subunits to synaptogenesis. In addition, study of the Waglerins and related toxic peptides may lead to the discovery of novel molecular targets for drug development. While Waglerin-1 interacts with other members of the ligand-gated superfamily of ion channels, the potency is much less than for inhibition of the adult mouse muscle acetylcholine receptor. Structural study suggests that Waglerin-1 may undergo molecular rearrangement that allows for binding to multiple receptors. The actions of Waglerin-1 reverse upon removal of the peptide.

Waglerin-1 is included in several skin creams marketed as wrinkle removers. There is no scientific evidence supporting the manufacturers' suggestion that the Waglerin-1 included in their products relaxes wrinkle producing skeletal muscles.


This species has undergone much taxonomic reclassification over the years and was previously placed in the genus Trimeresurus. However, their distinctly different morphology and venom characteristics set them apart, so that eventually a new genus was erected in which they were placed together with Hutton's viper, Tropidolaemus huttoni.

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Scientific classification

Tropidolaemus wagleri

Common names

  • German: Waglers Bambusotter
  • English:
    • Wagler's pit viper
    • Wagler's palm viper
    • Temple pit viper
  • Thai: งูเขียวตุ๊กแก, ngu khieow tukgae


  • Tropidolaemus wagleri, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2014)
  • Tropidolaemus wagleri, Tu et al. (2000)
  • Tropidolaemus wagleri, Roy W. McDiarmid, Jonathan A. Campbell & T'Shaka A. Touré (1999)
  • Tropidolaemus wagleri, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Tropidolaemus wagleri, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Tropidolaemus philippinensis, Patrick David & Gernot Vogel (1996)
  • Trimesurus sic philippinensis, Patrick David & Gernot Vogel (1996)
  • Trimeresurus philippinensis, Patrick David & Gernot Vogel (1996)
  • Tropidolaemus wagleri, Patrick David & Gernot Vogel (1996)
  • Tropidolaemus wagleri, Kenneth R. G. Welch (1994)
  • Trimeresurus (Tropidolaemus) wagleri, Jonathan A. Campbell & Edmund Darrell Brodie (1992)
  • Bothrops philippensis, Thomas Paul Maslin, Jr. (1942)
  • Trimeresurus philippensis, Edward Harrison Taylor (1922)
  • Trimeresurus wagleri wagleri, Edward Harrison Taylor (1922)
  • Trimeresurus wagleri philippensis, Edward Harrison Taylor (1922)
  • Trimeresurus wagleri subannulatus, Edward Harrison Taylor (1922)
  • Trimeresurus wagleri alboviridis, Edward Harrison Taylor (1917)
  • Lachesis wagleri, Nelly de Rooij (1917)
  • Lachesis sumatranus, Peter Ouwens (1916)
  • Lachesis wagleri, George Albert Boulenger (1896)
  • Bothrops wagleri, Fritz Müller (1882)
  • Bothrops wagleri, Fritz Müller (1880)
  • Tropidolaemus subannulatus var. immaculatus, Wilhelm Karl Hartwich Peters (1872)
  • Tropidolaemus subannulatus var. celebensis, Wilhelm Karl Hartwich Peters (1872)
  • Tropidolaemus schlegeli, William Theobald (1868)
  • Trimeresurus wagleri, Albert Charles Lewis Günther (1864)
  • Tropidolaemus sumatranus, Wilhelm Karl Hartwich Peters (1862)
  • Tropidolaemus philippensis, Wilhelm Karl Hartwich Peters (1861)
  • Tropidolaemus subannulatus, Wilhelm Karl Hartwich Peters (1861)
  • Trigonocephalus hombroni, Giorgio Jan (1859)
  • Tropidolaemus maculatus, Wilhelm Karl Hartwich Peters (1859)
  • Trimeresurus sumatranus, Albert Charles Lewis Günther (1858)
  • Tropidolaemus schlegelii, Pieter Bleeker (1857)
  • Tropidolaemus wagleri, André Marie Constant Duméril, Gabriel Bibron & Auguste Duméril (1854)
  • Tropidolaemus hombroni, André Marie Constant Duméril, Gabriel Bibron & Auguste Duméril (1854)
  • Tropidolaemus hombronii, Antoine Alphone Guichenot in Honoré Jacquinot & Charles Hector Jacquinot (1853)
  • Trigonocephalus wagleri var. celebensis, John Edward Gray (1849)
  • Trigonocephalus wagleri var. sumatrensis, John Edward Gray (1849)
  • Trigonocephalus sumatranus var., Theodore Edward Cantor (1847)
  • Trimesurus maculatus, John Edward Gray (1842)
  • Trimesurus philippensis, John Edward Gray (1842)
  • Trimesurus subannulatus, John Edward Gray (1842)
  • Trigonocephalus formosus nec Trigonocephalus formosus, Hermann Schlegel & Salomon Müller (1842)
  • Trigonocephalus wagleri, Hermann Schlegel (1837)
  • Tropidolaemus wagleri, Johann Georg Wagler (1830)
  • Cophias wagleri, Friedrich Boie (1827)
  • Cophias wagleri, Heinrich Boie (1826)
  • Trimesurus sumatranus nec Coluber sumatranus, Thomas Stamford Raffles (1822)

Conservation status

Least Concern (iucn3.1)

Least Concern (iucn3.1)

Tropidolaemus wagleri (female)

Tropidolaemus wagleri (female)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Tropidolaemus wagleri (female)

Tropidolaemus wagleri (female)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Tropidolaemus wagleri (male)

Tropidolaemus wagleri (male)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Tropidolaemus wagleri (male)

Tropidolaemus wagleri (male)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Tropidolaemus wagleri (male)

Tropidolaemus wagleri (male)


Distribution map of Wagler's palm pit viper, Tropidolaemus wagleri in Thailand

Range map of Tropidolaemus wagleri 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, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

It is free to use this map on various media. See the creative common license terms by clicking "CC" icon below the map. But remember, again; the map may not be accurate or complete.

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