Tree-Dwelling Pit Viper


Under the veil of the night, Wagler’s pit vipers use a predatory superpower – heat-sensitive pits – to detect and strike prey. And while considered relatively tranquil for a poisonous snake species, Wagler’s can still deliver a potent bite when threatened.

On a recent ecotour in Malaysian Borneo, we spotted both a juvenile and adult Wagler’s pit viper in the wild. They shared common characteristics – such as triangular-shaped heads and prehensile tails – but there were many visual differences between the two snakes.

The youngster viper was resting in the trees at the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre. Juvenile Wagler’s are identifiable by their vibrant green hue, slim body and red band across the eyes.

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As this snake reaches maturity, his body thickens, his skin color will deepen, his stripes will become more prominent and the aforementioned red band will fade away.

We photographed this adult Wagler’s pit viper, below, resting on a tree along the Kinabatangan River. Sometimes these snakes will stay in the same place in a tree for several days, waiting for the perfect feeding opportunity.

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Like snakes?
Two species of python are also native to the exotic island of Borneo. Learn about how these massive serpents are taking over the Everglades – and what’s being done to stop them – on Python Hunters, Tuesday September 14 at 10P ET/PT!

Photo Credit: Jodi Kendall, taken on a Terra Incognita Ecotour in Borneo.