Sungei Buloh - The Dark Dangerous Branch

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
North, Singapore
December 2013

A species of mangroves and coastal forests, the Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus (Shore Pit Viper) has a reputation for being unpredictable and should be approached with caution. Giving no warning signs, this snake will strike readily and far at any threat, and its powerful haemotoxic venom can cause serious illness or even kill. 

This shy snake looks just like another branch in a mangrove tree where it usually coils motionless. A small snake with the typical broad triangular head of a viper, it has large red eyes on a rather angry looking face. It is more active at night.  By day it can be found resting on low branches one or two metres from the ground.

Its colour can vary from a uniform dark grey or purplish-brown to a weakly-patterned brown, with a white stripe along each flank, or even greenish-yellow with dark mottling. The scales are strongly keeled (i.e. ridged). Males grow to a total length of 66.5 centimetres (26.2 inches), females 90 centimetres (35 inches). The maximum tail lengths are then 12.5 centimetres (4.9 inches) and 14 centimetres (5.5 inches) respectively.

Feeding on lizards, frogs and other small animals, possibly small birds, similar to other vipers, it has heat-sensing pits on its lips to detect its prey.