Animal of the Week: Malabar Pit Viper

Malabar pit viper (Trimeresurus malabaricus)

Great place to see the Malabar pit viper: Amboli in Maharashtra, India

Also known as the Malabar rock pit viper and rock viper, the Malabar pit viper is endemic to the southwestern part of India. You will only know by being in its presence a few feet away just how photogenic this stunning snake is, and probably the jittery fact that it is venomous will also fade away as you might get to capture this beauty before it slithers away from your vision.

The spectacular scales and pattern of this rock viper make for breathtaking portraits and close-up shots too. Different colour morphs such as green, brown and yellow are known to exist in the southern and western Indian forests – both evergreen and deciduous. In the moist forests, the pit viper can dwell in shrubs, on low vegetation and on ground. While the pit viper is nocturnal, it can be found basking by streams or on rocks or trees inactively during the day, which means when you come across one even in the day, you might get some enchanting pictures of it in its habitat. It feeds mainly on geckos, tree frogs and musk shrews among other small animals.

The hole in its face, referred to as ‘pit organs’, can detect infrared radiation from warm bodies with the help of a membrane. This way, this nocturnal pit viper can, what we call ‘see’, even in the dark, which is why it is our Animal of the Week!

See this amazing Malabar pit viper on our Amboli Maharashtra photography expedition

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