(Philippine Pit Viper) Trimeresurus flavomaculatus
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16 Fascinating Facts About Philippine Pit Vipers

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The Philippine Pit Viper (Trimeresurus flavomaculatus) is a highly venomous snake species endemic to the Philippines. These vibrantly colored snakes inhabit lush forests across several major Philippine islands including Luzon, Mindanao, and Leyte.

Philippine Pit Vipers have several adaptations that make them formidable predators. Their most notable feature is the heat-sensing loreal pit between their eye and nostril, which allows them to accurately strike and envenomate warm-blooded prey. Their venom is primarily hemotoxic, rapidly destroying tissue and blood cells, though antivenom exists. They also have excellent camouflage to ambush prey, with color patterns of red, black, green, and white arranged in bands down their iridescent bodies.

Let’s take a look at 16 fascinating facts you may not know about the Philippine pit viper:

Facts About Philippine Pit Vipers

  • 1. They have heat-sensing pits – Philippine pit vipers have loreal pits on their heads which allow them to detect and target warm-blooded prey. These special organs can detect temperature differences as small as 0.003°C!
  • 2. Their venom is hemotoxic – The venom of the Philippine pit viper mainly attacks the circulatory system and destroys red blood cells and tissue. This can lead to internal bleeding, organ damage, and even death if left untreated.
  • 3. They come in two main color morphs – Philippine pit vipers can have a bright green base color with a white, pink, or reddish dorsal pattern. Or they can be brown or gray with a pattern of dark brown or black markings.
  • 4. They are arboreal – Unlike many vipers, Philippine pit vipers spend a lot of time in trees and shrubs. Their prehensile tails help them anchor themselves while hunting in branches.
  • 5. They are nocturnal hunters – These snakes are most active at night when they hunt for prey like birds, rodents, and lizards. Their heat-sensing ability gives them an edge in the darkness.
  • 6. They can reach over 6 feet long – Philippine pit vipers can grow quite large, with some exceeding 6 feet in length. However, most adults are around 3-4 feet long.
  • 7. They have hinged fangs – Their fangs can rotate 90 degrees, quickly swinging them outwards to inject venom when they strike. The fangs also fold back against the roof of the mouth when not in use.
  • 8. They are ovoviviparous – Instead of laying eggs, female Philippine pit vipers give birth to 10-20 live young. The babies are about 8-12 inches at birth.
  • 9. They hiss loudly when threatened – If confronted by a predator, these vipers will flatten their neck ribs to appear more intimidating while hissing and striking aggressively.
  • 10. They are very fast strikers – Despite their relatively bulky build, Philippine pit vipers can strike with amazing speed, often too quick for their prey to react.
  • 11. They inhabit a variety of habitats – These adaptable snakes are found from lowland forests to mountains over 1,600 meters high. They even thrive in cultivated areas.
  • 12. They are preyed on by king cobras – One of the Philippine pit viper’s few natural predators is the deadly king cobra. Their venom resistance allows them to feed on vipers.
  • 13. They have lifespans over 20 years – In captivity, some individuals have been known to live over 20 years. Their average lifespan in the wild is likely 10-15 years.
  • 14. They are mildly venomous to humans – While their hemotoxic venom can be dangerous, most bites do not inject much venom. With proper medical care, human fatalities are very rare.
  • 15. They are heavily exploited for leather – Philippine pit vipers are captured in huge numbers to produce snake skin leather products. This is threatening some local populations.
  • 16. They are CITES protected – Due to over-exploitation, the Philippine pit viper is listed on CITES Appendix II, restricting international trade. More conservation is still needed.

Conclusion

The Philippine pit viper is a fascinating venomous snake that has adapted to thrive in the tropical forests of the Philippines. Some of their unique traits include heat-sensing ability, hinged fangs, arboreal habits, and colorful color variations.

Hopefully these 16 intriguing facts have shed some light on this remarkable viper species found only in the Philippines. Learning more about their behaviors, abilities, and threats can help us better understand and conserve these amazing reptiles.


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