The head is distinctly wide and elongated, with symmetrically arranged large scales. The dorsal scales are strongly keeled. An elongated postocular extends anteriorly to separate the eye from the supralabials. The dorsum is brownish, mottled or variegated to form a pattern of transverse bars. Ventral scales are white with black and red dots or speckles. Average length of these snakes is between 0.76 and 0.90 metres (2.5 and 3.0 ft). Dorsal scale count is "(20 to 23) - 21 (19 to 23) - 17 (15)", which means behind head, 20-23 rows; at midbody, usually 21 rows, but sometimes 19 or 23; just before vent, usually 17 rows, but sometimes 15.
It is the only snake, found in Pakistan, with a pit (heat-sensing loreal pit) between the eye and nostril.
Occurs along the southern slopes of the Himalayas from northeastern Pakistan, to northern India (Kashmir, Punjab) and Nepal. Reports that this species occurs in Sikkim, India, need to be confirmed.
This is a highland snake and is found in altitudes ranging from 2,100 to 4,900 m (6,900 to 16,100 ft) in the mid and western Himalayas. It takes refuge under fallen timber, crevices, in or under rocks, beneath boulders, ledges, stones and fallen leaves.
Behavior and diet
This is a nocturnal and terrestrial species, often seen close to its hiding place, to which it retreats when disturbed. It is a lazy timid snake, moving slowly from one place to another. Its food consists mostly of millipedes, centipedes, and small rodents.
Bites from this species result in intense local pain and swelling, which usually subsides within two to three days, even without treatment.
- List of crotaline species and subspecies
- Crotalinae by common name
- Crotalinae by taxonomic synonyms
- "Gloydius himalayanus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 20 May 2007.
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- "Gloydius himalayanus". Clinical Toxinology Resource. University of Adelaide. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
- Gloyd HK, Conant R. 1990. Snakes of the Agkistrodon Complex. A Monographic Review. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Contributions to Herpetology No. 6. SSAR, Oxford, Ohio. vi + 614 pp. + 52 pl.
- Gumprecht A, Tillack F, Orlov NL, Captain A, Ryabow S. 2004. Asian Pit Vipers. Geitje Books. Berlin. 368 pp.
- Günther A. 1864. The Reptiles of British India. The Ray Society. (Taylor & Francis, Printers). London. xxvii + 452 pp. (Halys himalayanus, pp. 393–394.)