Hypnale hypnale

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Hypnale hypnale
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Hypnale
Species: H. hypnale
Binomial name
Hypnale hypnale
(Merrem, 1820)
  • [Cophias] Hypnale Merrem, 1820
  • Trigonoc[ephalus]. hypnale
    Schlegel, 1837
  • Trimeresurus ? Ceylonensis
    Gray, 1842
  • Trigonocephalus Zara Gray, 1849
  • Trigonocephalus hypnalis
    Blyth In Kelaart, 1852
  • Hypnale affinis Anderson, 1871
  • Trimaculatus (?) Ceylonensis
    – Higgins, 1873
  • Ancistrodon hypnale
    Boulenger, 1890
  • Ancistrodon millardi Wall, 1908
  • [Agkistrodon] hypnale Pope, 1935
  • [Agkistrodon] millardi – Pope, 1935
  • Agcistrodon hypnale
    Deraniyagala, 1949
  • Hypnale hypnale Gloyd, 1977[1]
Common names: hump-nosed viper,[2] Merrem's hump-nosed viper,[3] more.

Hypnale hypnale is a venomous pitviper species endemic to India and Sri Lanka.[1] No subspecies are currently recognized.[4]


H. hypnale, in Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, India.

H. hypnale grows to an average of 30–45 cm (11¾-17¾ inches) in total length.[2] The Armed Forces Pest Management Board states 0.4-0.6 m (15¾-23⅝ inches) in total length.[3]

Its build is that of a typical viperid with a stout body and a wide head. The snout is pointed and turned upwards,[2] ending in a hump.[3] The frontal, supraoculars, and parietal shields are large, but those on the snout are small and irregular.[2]

The color pattern is grayish with heavy brown mottling, overlaid with a double row of large dark spots. The belly is brownish or yellowish with dark mottling. The tip of the tail is yellow or reddish.[2]

Common names[edit]

Hump-nosed viper,[2] Merrem's hump-nosed viper,[3] hump-nosed pit viper,[5] Oriental hump-nosed viper,[6] hump-nosed pitviper,[7] polon thelissa-පොලොන් තෙලිස්සා & kunakatuwa-කුණක‍ටුවා (Sinhala),[8] churutta (Malayalam).

Geographic range[edit]

At Kandalama

It is found in peninsular India to the Western Ghats as far north as 16° N, and in Sri Lanka, according to M.A. Smith (1943). The type locality given is "Castle Rock, Karnataka, India."


Found in dense jungle and coffee plantations in hilly areas.[2]


At Kandalama, note the flattening body when threatened

H. hypnale is active during early morning and night. It spends the day in leaf litter and thick bushes. This species can be found on the stream side basking during the sunrise. Although it is a slow mover, it is capable of fast strikes. It has an irritable disposition and will vibrate its tail when annoyed,[2][9] a behavior it has in common with other pit vipers, especially rattlesnakes of the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus. It has been described as nocturnal, terrestrial, and aggressive when disturbed.[3]


Bites from this species, although previously thought to be innocuous, are now known to cause serious complications such as coagulopathy and acute renal failure (ARF). If not treated within a few hours, bites can potentially be fatal for human beings.[10]


Adult females bear live young from March through July. Brood size ranges from 4 to 17, and the newborns are 13-14.5 cm (5⅛-5¾ inches) long.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h U.S. Navy. 1991. Poisonous Snakes of the World. US Govt. New York: Dover Publications Inc. 203 pp. ISBN 0-486-26629-X.
  3. ^ a b c d e Defense Pest Management Information Analysis Center. 2001. Regional Disease Vector Ecology Profile for South Central Asia. 219 pp. PDF at Armed Forces Pest Management Board. Accessed 17 November 2006.
  4. ^ "Hypnale hypnale". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 17 November 2006. 
  5. ^ Brown JH. 1973. Toxicology and Pharmacology of Venoms from Poisonous Snakes. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. 184 pp. LCCCN 73-229. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.
  6. ^ Parker HW, Grandison AGC. 1977. Snakes -- a Natural History. Second Edition. British Museum (Natural History) and Cornell University Press. 108 pp. 16 plates. LCCCN 76-54625. ISBN 0-8014-1095-9 (cloth), ISBN 0-8014-9164-9 (paper).
  7. ^ Gumprecht A, Tillack F, Orlov NL, Captain A, Ryabov S. 2004. Asian Pitvipers. Geitje Books. Berlin. 1st Edition. 368 pp. ISBN 3-937975-00-4.
  8. ^ Checklists of the Snakes of Sri Lanka at the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society. Accessed 12 February 2008.
  9. ^ a b Das, Indraneil. 2002. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of India. Ralph Curtis Books. Sanibel Island, Florida. 144 pp. ISBN 0-88359-056-5. (Hypnale hypnale, p. 62.)
  10. ^ Kularatna SA, Ratnatunga N. 1999. Severe systemic effects of Merrem's hump-nosed viper bite. Ceylon Med J. 44(4):169-70.

Further reading[edit]

  • Merrem, B. 1820. Versuch eines Systems der Amphibien: Tentamen Systematis Amphibiorum. J.C. Krieger. Marburg. xv + 191 pp. + 1 plate. (Cophias hypnale, p. 155.)
  • Smith, M.A.. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-region. Reptilia and Amphibia, Vol. III.—Serpentes. Secretary of State for India. (Taylor & Francis, Printers). London. xii + 583 pp. + 1 map. (Ancistrodon hypnale, pp. 499–500.)

External links[edit]