Brown Spotted Pit Viper (Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus)
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Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus is a venomous snake belonging to the Viperidae family. It is also known under different names: Brown Spotted Pit Viper, Taiwan Habu, Chinese Habu, Pointed-Scaled Pit Viper or Formosan Pit Viper.
The term "Protobothrops" in its scientific name comes from the Greek words Bothros and Ops, which mean Pit and Eye respectively. This name was given in reference to the heat-sensitive dimples inherent to this snake. The word Mucrosquamatus means "with pointed scales". This characteristic has earned him one of its names, the Pointed-Scaled Pit Viper.
This species was first described in 1839 by a zoologist named Theodore Cantor.
The large head of Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus is flattened and triangular in shape, which easily differentiates it from its neck. It is covered by small scales that overlap. The upper part of its head is brown with more or less intense dark spots.
Its eyes of average size are located on the higher part of its head. The irises are of light brown or golden color, and filled with spots of the color of its skin. These pupils are elliptical vertical. This snake also has a dark band that extends from the back of the eye to the corner of its mouth.
Its dorsal scales vary from light brown to brown and dark. They are decorated with dark spots that vary from "chocolate" brown to black. Sometimes, some of these patterns have clear margins rather narrow.
Its ventral scales are of an off-white or light brown tint. These become darker the closer you get to its tail. This last one is of average size.
Its thermoreceptors are positioned between its eyes and its nostrils. Of triangular shape, this pit allows the animal to detect temperature variations and, consequently, to locate warm-blooded preys.
Its fangs are located at the front of its upper jaw and are the largest of all venomous species in Taiwan. They are mobile and retract when the reptile closes its mouth.
Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus Size
Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus is a medium sized snake. Its average size is between 2.3ft and 3ft (70 cm and 90cm). However, some females can reach up to 5ft (150cm).
Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus is a nocturnal snake. It is also considered a terrestrial animal, although it likes to climb trees from time to time. This snake likes to hide in the middle of rocky areas, under clumps of foliage or in dense vegetation. All these hiding places make it difficult to see.
This species is one of the snakes that actively hunts its prey and sets traps for them. When it falls in front of its victim, it bites it to inject its venom.
With its rather calm temperament, the Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus always tries to flee from danger. However, if it feels threatened, it can quickly become aggressive and attack anything that moves.
Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus is an endemic species of Asia. It lives in Bangladesh, China, India, Hong Kong, Burma, Taiwan and Vietnam.
This snake appreciates open spaces as much as wooded areas. Its main criterion is that there is a lot of vegetation and hiding places.
It prefers bamboo forests, agricultural areas and mountains. This species can also wander in urban areas to search for prey, but this remains rare.
What does Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus eat ?
Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus feeds mainly on rodents, birds, lizards, bats, insects, and even other snakes.
Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus is an oviparous snake, which means that females lay eggs. In summer, the female can lay between 3 and 15 eggs in a single clutch. Then, she finds a place to hide them and protect them until they hatch.
At birth, babies are about 0.82in (25cm) long.
The venom of the Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus is not the most powerful. However, it is still dangerous and potentially deadly. A bite from this reptile should not be overlooked and requires medical intervention in all cases.
The composition of its venom includes anticoagulants, procoagulants, necrotoxins and toxins that cause bleeding and edema.
After a bite from this snake, the victim has an 80% chance of being poisoned.
The first effects are local and include severe pain, swelling of the affected area, blisters and bruising. Necrosis of the limb can sometimes occur, but this is rare.
Subsequently, general symptoms such as dizziness, kidney damage, blood clotting and heart problems may occur.
The mortality rate of Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus bites is still unknown. However, we know that some people have died as a result of its bite. Severe damage to the body has also been observed in victims who have been medically treated.
A bite from Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus always requires medical attention. That's why you should always go to the nearest hospital.
While waiting for medical help, you can always perform some simple actions such as removing any accessories that might be compressing the affected limb. You can also use a bandage to immobilize the limb.
On the other hand, you should avoid cutting the wound or sucking the venom out with your mouth. Also avoid applying ointment or cream to the wound. Finally, do not take painkillers as they will make the medical intervention more complicated.
Currently, there are 4 antivenoms that are effective against the poison of Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus. Several doses may sometimes be necessary to treat the infection.
The IUCN red list indicates a low concern about the risk of extinction of Protobothrops Mucrosquamatus. It is therefore not currently threatened.