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Tropidolaemus wagleri (Boei, 1827) (Viperidae)
by Siti Fariezza Bt Khairi Thaw

Newsletter

Tropidolaemus wagleri (Boei, 1827) (Viperidae)

by Siti Fariezza Bt Khairi Thaw

Tropidolaemus wagleri is a species of viper commonly known as Wagler’s Pit Viper or Temple Viper. In Malay, it is known as Ular Kapak Tokong. This species is widely distributed in Thailand, Indonesia, West Malaysia, and the Philippines. It occurs from sea level to 1200 m elevation (Cox et al., 1998). It inhabits wet areas such as swamps, mangroves and lowland forest and is usually found near water. It is an arboreal species, meaning that it lives in trees.

All pit vipers are venomous, however Wagler's Pit Viper is generally not considered to be aggressive. In the field, these snakes are most easily identified by their markedly triangular head. The colours are distinct between adult female, adult male, and their young. The female adult has a black body with yellow cross bands, black post-ocular stripe and banded belly while the adult male body is green, with a black border and many greenish yellow crossbars on its back. As they mature the young vipers change their body colour. Basically, the young are all green with spots of white and red that are sometimes arranged in pale crossbars. The adult female can grow up to 100 cm long while the adult male up to 75 cm long.

Being nocturnal, vipers are more active and usually found at night or during dusk and dawn. However, it is also sometimes found in the daytime during or after rain. This species preys on small animals especially birds, frogs, lizards, mice and other rodents.

A potential threat to this species is the illegal trade as an exotic pet. However, this does not seem to affect the population as the species is abundant and occurs in several protected areas. This species has also become a tourist attraction at Ban Kan Lan or Snake Temple in Penang. Due to its widespread distribution and abundance, this species is categorised as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Grismer & Chan-Ard, 2012).

References

  1. Cox, M.J., Van Dijk, P.P., Nabhitabhata, J. & Kumthorn, T. (2010). A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore & Thailand. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd.. pp. 144.
  2. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved November 30, 2016, from http://www.iucnredlist.org
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