It is found in the mountains of southern Western Ghats south of Palakkad Gap, in the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, at elevations of 2,000-7,000 ft (610-2,100 m). The type locality is listed as "Anamalai hills (Tamil Nadu State, southwestern India)".
Adults may attain a total length of 68 cm (27 in), which includes a tail 12 cm (4.7 in) long.
Dorsally, T. macrolepis is bright green, with blackish skin between the scales in some places. There is a yellow or white stripe on each side of the body, which runs along the first dorsal scale row. The upper lips are pale green, and there may be a black streak behind the eye. Ventrally, it is pale greenish.
The dorsal scales, which are large, keeled, and overlapping, are arranged in only 12-15 rows at midbody. The dorsal scales in the 10 middle rows are always the largest, and additional rows are made up of smaller scales. An even number of dorsal scale rows is frequently found in this species, even though it is uncommon in snakes in general. Ventrals 133-143; subcaudals divided 44-58.
The scales on the top of the head are very large, smooth, and overlapping. There is an elongate subocular, which is separated from the upper labials by a row of a few small scales. There are 7-8 upper labials, of which the 3rd is the largest.
T. macrolepis has a long spineless hemipenis without papillae; the hemipenis has a long calyculate region beginning at some distance from the fork of the hemipenis and continuing until the tip. This is a characteristic similar to vipers of the Trimeresurus popeiorum group. In addition, it has enlarged head scales, somewhat akin to those of Agkistrodon species. Based on these characters, and its Western Ghats distribution, Malhotra and Thorpe (2004) resurrected the genus Peltopelor Günther, 1864 for this species.
The resurrection of new genera from Trimeresurus by Malhotra & Thorpe was accepted by most subsequent authors. However, the creation of the new genera created a problem, in that the new genera did not form a distinct clade, as Trimeresurus had done and also were not distinct morphologically from one another other in the clade. Based on this view, Peltopelor has been reduced by David, Vogel & Dubois (2011) to the status of a subgenus, so that the latest taxonomic classification of this snake is Trimeresurus (Peltopelor) macrolepis.
Even though tea pickers are frequently bitten by this species, the bites are seldom fatal.
- List of crotaline species and subspecies
- Trimeresurus by common name
- Trimeresurus by taxonomic synonyms
- Crotalinae by common name
- Crotalinae by taxonomic synonyms
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- David, Patrick; Vogel, Gernot & Dubois, Alain (11 Aug 2011). "On the need to follow rigorously the Rules of the Code for the subsequent designation of a nucleospecies (type species) for a nominal genus which lacked one: the case of the nominal genus Trimeresurus Lacépède, 1804 (Reptilia: Squamata: Viperidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa (2992): 1–51. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
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