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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 02, 2021

Himalayan Pit Viper: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

The Himalayan pit viper facts include the snakes' love for high range altitudes.

The highest living snake in the world, Gloydius himalayanus, is commonly known as the Himalayan pit viper or Himalayan viper. The species has been found lurking in the high mountains of altitudes up to 16,072 ft (4898.7 m) above sea level in the North-eastern parts of Pakistan, North Indian states of Kashmir and Punjab, Nepal, and the Western Himalayas. This species falls under the family of Viperidae under the suborder Serpentes and hibernates during winter. It dines on mountain lizards, rodents, skinks, amphibians, and other small animals found around its habitat.

The nocturnal species is usually dark brown or gray in color with transverse patterns in its scales along with an elongated head with large symmetrical scales and white, red, or black specks. The snake has a heat-sensing loreal between its eyes and nostril making it one of its kind in the region. These reptiles can grow up to a length of 30 in (0.76 m) as full-grown adults but are well-known for their lazy nature.

If you like reading this article, we suggest you read about the monitor lizard and glass frog too!

Himalayan Pit Viper Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Himalayan pit viper?

The Gloydius himalayanus is a type of snake belonging to the family of Viperidae of suborder Serpentes of genus Gloydius.

What class of animal does a Himalayan pit viper belong to?

The Gloydius himalayanus belongs to the Reptilia class of animals of the Gloydius genus.

How many Himalayan pit vipers are there in the world?

The exact number of Gloydius himalayanus is currently not available, but as far as their distribution of habitats and sightings are concerned, it can be estimated close to thousands.

Where does a Himalayan pit viper live?

The viper lives in the western and southern Himalayan slopes, the Northeastern region of Pakistan, North Indian states of Kashmir and Punjab, as well as Nepal. They can also be found in coniferous forests, rocky mountains, and other high-altitude places.

What is a Himalayan pit viper's habitat?

The Gloydius himalayanus is a highland-loving snake, which means that it can only be found around places of higher altitudes ranging from 6,900-16,100 ft (2,102-4,900 m). The sneaky snake is mostly found in the western and middle Himalayan regions where it is mostly seen hidden under crevices, rocks, boulders, timber, leaves, ledges, stones, and other natural hiding spots.

Who do Himalayan pit vipers live with?

Gloydius himalayanus are a terrestrial species along with being nocturnal. This allows them to stay quite closer to their comfortable hiding places where they tend to live alone.

How long does a Himalayan pit viper live?

The estimated lifespan of a Gloydius himalayanus is said to be around 10-20 years.

How do they reproduce?

The mating ritual of the Gloydius himalayanus is not entirely known but might be similar to the pit viper where they indulge in sexual reproduction. Also, we know that the female uses the viviparous method of reproduction where the mother grows the younger ones inside her body, providing all the required nutrition into the yolk sac through a placenta, quite similar to how mammals reproduce.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the viper is currently under investigation and is declared to be unknown.

Himalayan Pit Viper Fun Facts

What do Himalayan pit vipers look like?

The Gloydius himalayanus has a wide elongated head with large symmetrical scales arranged in an orderly manner. The tail is short and tapered. The body is covered in strong keeled dorsal and postocular scales that separate the eye from its supralabials.

The body is dark brown or gray with a set of transverse patterns laid down beautifully. Its ventral scales have red, white, and black spots. The main Himalayan pit viper characteristics feature is the heat-sensing loreal pit situated in the area between the snake's eyes and nostrils, which marks it as one of its kind around its habitat. The length of an adult Himalayan pit viper can grow up to 30 in (0.76 m) long.

The Himalayan pit viper is dark brown or gray.
*Please note, this is an image of a pit viper that looks similar. If you have an image of the Gloydius himalayanus, then please let us know at [email protected].

How cute are they?

These snakes are beautiful since their features are strikingly sharp. However, it's cute how it reacts when it's being threatened. The lazy viper just coils itself and shakes its tail in retaliation.

How do they communicate?

The species have a unique sense of ability where they use infrared thermal radiations that helps them see and determine heat radiating in other organisms. They communicate with other species using this ability along with the use of body movements.

How big is a Himalayan pit viper?

The viper is 30 in (0.76 m) long. In terms of size, it usually falls under the category of medium-sized snakes.

How fast can a Himalayan pit viper move?

The Himalayan pit viper is a land reptile, known for being lazy, unlike most other snakes who move fast. It is quite slow and usually stays around its home so that it does not have to move a lot.

How much does a Himalayan pit viper weigh?

Its weight is estimated to be about 0.22-0.66 lb (100-300 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

It is referred to by its common name, the Himalayan pit viper or Gloydius himalayanus.

What would you call a baby Himalayan pit viper?

There is no specific name given to the babies of the particular species and as such, the younger ones can be referred to as hatchling snakes or snakelets.

What do they eat?

A Himalayan pit viper's choice of food consists of millipedes, rodents, lizards, and other small animals found in its habitat. However, the vipers are prime victims of other predators such as dwarf mongoose, honey badger, hedgehog, king cobra, and other such wild animals and birds.

Are they poisonous?

They do fall under the category of venomous snake species with elements of mycotoxin, neurotoxin, necrotoxin, procoagulant, and haemorrhagins present in their venom. The Himalayan pit viper bite rate is quite low and is rarely reported. The poison is not dangerous and leaves only blisters or bruises that heal within three days even if left untreated.

Would they make a good pet?

Considering how the Himalayan pit viper venom is harmless and its body is beautifully detailed, the snake is among many other reptiles that are usually kept as pets. But, if you wish to keep one, then the decision depends on the place where you reside as it is illegal to keep or catch venomous snakes as pets in many states. This is why it is important that you search and make a wise decision if you would like to have one.

Did you know...

The Himalayan pit viper is the only poisonous snake found in the Himalayas.

Also, it is to be noted that not all vipers are viviparous as some of them use the oviparous method of reproduction where the female delivers the eggs externally.  

Are Himalayan pit vipers dangerous?

The Indian viper is considered less harmful as they are quite lazy. It warns and coils itself if threatened rather than strike and defend immediately. Its venom does not inflict any kind of major injury if a person is bitten. The area should heal within three days, even without treatment. However, it is important to note that snake bites are serious and should be treated as soon as possible.

Types of pit viper and how they are different

According to ITIS, there are a total of 190 species of vipers found in a wide range of biodiversity in Asia, America, and Europe. The family of crotaline snakes consists of Asian pit vipers, rattlesnakes, and lanceheads, out of which, the timber rattlesnake belongs to the subfamily Crotalus. The species share common features but differ in other prominent features ranging in size, weight, movement, appearance, and behavioral habits.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these smooth green snake facts and king cobra facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Himalayan pit viper coloring pages.

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