Tibetan pitviper

Gloydius strauchi

SUBFAMILY

Crotalinae

TAXONOMY

Gloydius strauchi Bedriaga, 1912, Tungngolo, Szechwan Province, China (as restricted by Pope in his 1935 work on the reptiles of China). No subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This is a relatively small snake that typically does not exceed 19.7-21.7 in (500-550 mm) in total length. The largest male recorded was 20 in (510 mm) in total length, and the largest female was 21.5 in (547 mm) in total length. The ground color of the dorsum may be brown or greenish brown with four dark longitudinal stripes. These stripes are usually incomplete and curved such that individuals may appear spotted or exhibit a zigzag pattern on parts of the dorsum. A dark postocular stripe is present, and there are dark markings on the top of the head. Some adults are uniformly dark in color. The crown has nine symmetrical plates. Most specimens have seven supralabial and 21 middorsal scale rows. Ventral scales range from 145 to 175, and subcaudal scales range from 34 to 44.

DISTRIBUTION

The Tibetan pitviper occurs in southern China in Szechuan and Tsinghai Provinces.

HABITAT

The species inhabits the Tibetan Plateau at elevations between 9,470 ft (2,886 m) and 14,000 ft (4,267 m).

BEHAVIOR

Little is known about this terrestrial species, but it must hibernate for extended periods, owing to the climatic conditions within its range.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

One specimen was reported to contain a young pika (Lagomys). REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The Tibetan pitviper is thought to give live birth; seven partially developed embryos were found in one specimen.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN. Additional study of this snake is needed; at present too little is known of its biology to evaluate its status.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

There are no records of human envenomation, nor is this species known to be exploited by humans to any appreciable degree. ♦

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