About Snakes and A bite. How to handle it ?

Hiking up the hills and Exploring the thick Rainforest  is something a  Favourite pastime of every Nature lover, Adventure seeker, Photographer or a Naturalist. It is true that the beautiful scenic beauty of  Western Ghats , flora and fauna mesmerizes everyone. Ghats are home to innumerable species of  pezzy leeches, mammals, creepy crawly insects, butterflies and reptiles – Vipers/Snakes . One should be aware or basic idea of recognizing these creatures while you encounter them by its  Color, Shape and Size .Identifying them, without hurting them and in the mean while be safe.!

Snakes including Vipers are deadliest of creatures found in Jungles. It is necessary for those who are passionate about Hiking  to have first hand information in Identifying these creatures , Habitat , First Aid, Conservation, Bite and How to overcome it.

Here is some information which will help you.

Facts About Vipers..?

  • Vipers are a large family of snakes; the scientific name is Viperidae
  • All vipers are venomous and have long, hinged fangs
  • Almost all vipers have a distinctive triangular head
  • Have Keeled scales, vertically elliptical pupils and coloring and patterns that serve as camouflage. 
  • They detect prey through heat & are  Infrared receptors

Pit Vipers Of The Western Ghats

Pit Vipers are a group of snakes belonging to the subfamily crotalinae. The Asian pit vipers are characterized by a stout body, a short prehensile tail and a broad sub triangular head with specialized heat sensing pits between the eye and the nostrils. They are venomous with specialized movable front fangs. Most of them are ovo-viviparous giving birth to live young.

The unique habitats of the Western Ghats is home to 6 species of pit vipers of which 4 are endemic to the Western Ghats and is found nowhere else in the world. Like all pit vipers they are venomous but their venom is not as toxic as other Indian venomous snakes and has resulted in very few fatalities. Their venom is adapted mainly to kill prey such as frogs, lizards, birds & rodents.

Points to Remember while you go into Wilderness/Trekking in Jungle

  • Wear proper clothes to cover your body and footware
  • Be watchful when you walk on foliage, Water bodies, and  while you are in bushes.
  • Don’t shout or Scream
  • Be watchful while you rest on Rocks, Creeks, water bodies and tree trunks 
  • Don’t Harm / Tease / Irritate /Poke it/ Playful with  any  creatures  
  • If you encounter Snake. Leave it alone.
  • If hear a hissing sound move away
  • Be a Responsible Trekker
  • No Complaints against each other


What if snake Snake Bites..? 

What next  ..?

Be calm and 

Be calm

Don’t Scream

Console and try to calm the Victim. Give Confidence.

Don’t Get Panic..!

Try to Identify Snake and color if possible.


How do you know if you have a snake bite ?

To identify a snake bite, consider the following general symptoms

  • Two puncture wounds
  • Swelling and redness around the wounds.
  • Pain at the bite site.
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Vomiting and Nausea.
  • Blurred vision and slurred speech
  • Sweating and Salivating.
  • Numbness in the face and limbs & loss of Co- ordination



In the event of an actual or probable bite from any Viper execute the following first aid measures without delay.


Make sure that the responsible snake or snakes have been appropriately and safely contained, and are out of danger of inflicting any additional bites.


Immediately call for transportation.

Telephone & Evacuate

Make note of  Snake color and species if possible.


1. Keep the victim calm and reassured. Allow him or her to lie flat and avoid as much movement as possible. If possible, allow the bitten limb to rest at a level lower than the victim's heart.

2. Identify the bite site, looking for fang marks, Immediately wrap a large constricting band snugly about the bitten limb at a level just above the bite site, ie. between the bite site and the heart. The constricting band should be as tight as one might bind a sprained ankle, but not so tight as to constrict blood flow.

3. DO NOT remove the constricting band until the victim has reached the hospital and is receiving anti venom.

4. Give enough space to breathe.

5. Give confidence at all the times.

DO NOT                  -    CUT OR INCISE THE BITE  SITE

DO NOT                  -    APPLY ICE TO BITE SITE

DO NOT                  -     SUCK THE WO UND

Different types of Vipers

1.Russell's  Viper  

Scientific Name  : Daboia russelii 

Regional Names: 

English : Chain Viper

Kannada : ಕೊಳಕ  ಮಂಡಲ

Gujarati : ખડચિતડ, કામળીઓ

Hindi : Parran, Chitti,  Kaudia

Marathi : Ghonas

Bengali : Chandrobora

Malayalam : Anali, Manchatti , Payyana Mandali, Chenathandan, Mandali, Payyani, Rakthamandali, Rudiramandali, Rakthaanali, Kannadiviriyan, Manchatti, Vattackura, Pullan, Kuthirakulamban


Not found in Indian islands, Himalayan hills and most of the North-states. Recorded from the Indian states. Also found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Venom Type : Haemotoxic

The venom causes irregularities in the victim's blood, preventing it from clotting. A bleeding tendency occurs starting with all the mucous membranes and progress to nose bleeds, bruises, blood is found in the urine and vomiting of blood.

Bite of a Russell‘s Viper  

It is a very dangerous snake. Large members of some species can easily deliver a lethal dose in humans. Victims will usually complain of pain at the bite site, and swelling may be evident. Substantial coagulopathy and acute renal failure may ensue. Unique to certain subspecies, there has been reported symptoms indicative of a neurotoxic and myotoxic venom including ptosis, dysarthrias, and generalized weakness. Prompt medical therapy avoids these problems. Please read the attached and respond appropriately.

Family : Viperidae

Characteristics for identification

This species can be identified easily by robust and stout body covered with keeled scales. In three rows eye or almond like spots found in whole dorsal body. This character helps people to differentiate between Russell's Viper and non-venomous Indian Rock Python which is found in the same range. It can be easily identified by checking oval shaped hollow or solid spots in three rows in dorsal body and highly keeled non-shiny scales. 


New born - 24cm.

Average length - 100cm (3.3ft).

Maximum length - 180cm (6.6ft )

Ventral : Belly white or light yellow with deep dark brown or blackish semi lunar spots on the edge of most of ventral scales. Underside of tail usually darker (brown or deep yellow) than ventral scales with paired subcaudals. 

Head : Head triangular, pointed with small keeled scales; clearly broader than neck. Two triangular shaped spots of rounded edge present on the top. Upper lip pinkish white mostly. Supra nasal crescentic with large nostril. Moderate eyes have vertically elliptical pupil. Two very long fangs present in front side of mouth from birth.

Tail : Rather small tail with pointed tip and covered with typical keeled scales; usually without patterns.


Found both in plains and moderate elevation up to approximately 4800ft; more common in plains. Distributed in variety of forests including rainforest, mixed, dry, moist deciduous forest, scrub lands, grassland, wetland etc. Habitat includes dry open lands, agricultural fields, open country, scrubs having low bushes, rocky terrain having mounds & vegetation etc. Hides in mounds, holes, piles, caves, cracks, dense leaf litters, dense vegetation etc.

Natural History 

Nocturnal species which choose nights for foraging and other life activities

Seen at daytime during basking which can retain for most of the day during winters. Shows terrestrial activity and choose drier surrounding

Locomotion usually slow but creeps in somewhat jumpy manner after threatening

Behaviour alert and aggressive if one comes under its attacking range or sitting site

On provocation make a plate like rounded coil with head at center and produce whistle or pressure cooker like sound to alarm its enemy

On further disturbance gives random attacks to scratch enemy's body parts and may or may not deliver its haemotoxic venom

Mating season starts from winters and usually retains up to starting of summer. Male combat also observed during the same period to show dominance for breeding female

Reproduction ovoviviparous; female directly gives birth to 6-96 young during summer to monsoon months. Such large clutch size is not found in any other Viper or Pit Viper of India. 


Feeds chiefly on rodents and small mammals; also feeds on birds, lizards, frogs.


2. Bamboo Pit Viper

Scientific Name : Trimeresurus gramineus

Regional Names 

English : Indian Green Pit Viper, Common Green Pit Viper

Kannada : ಬಿದಿರು ಮಂಡಲ ಹಾವು

Gujarati : વાંસ નો ખડચીતડ


Found in most of the peninsular India's hills. Not found in Indian Islands. Thar desert, North-east states and regions above Gangetic plains. Recorded from following states: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Telangana.

Venom Type : Haemotoxic

Family : Viperidae

Characteristics for identification: 

Can be identified easily by checking triangular head which is much broader than neck, green dorsal marked with rich or faint black markings and yellow belly.


New born - 16cm.

Average length - 70cm.

Maximum length - 113cm.


Body somewhat slender, covered with lightly keeled scales. Upper body color ranges from yellowish-green to bluish-green and marked with rich or faint black irregular markings. Juveniles have more prominent markings as compared to adults.


Belly color mostly yellow, sometimes greenish-white also without any pattern. Subcaudal scales paired.


Head triangular, covered with very small scales; clearly broader than neck. Upper lip color similar like belly, i. e. yellow. Top of the head patternless. Eyes have vertical pupil.


Shorter tail ends with a pointed tip.

Hide  Scalation


Supralabial 10-12; first completely separated from nasal; 2 rows of scales between supralabial and elongated subocular; supraocular narrow and entire; 8-11 scales between eyes.


Smooth or weakly keeled scale in upper rows in 21:21:15 rows

Habitat : 

Distributed mainly in rainforest ; dry, mixed and moist deciduous forests. Found mainly in moderate to high elevations but at many parts of its range it has been recorded from sea level also. Lives in dense and open forests having  low vegetation.  Hides among dense bushes, tree holes and mounds at heights at day time.

Natural History: 

Bamboo Pit Viper is a nocturnal and arboreal species like other species of same genus. Choose moderate heights but can be seen on ground many times. Locomotion slow in all kind of environment. Behaviour shy, usually calm, non-offensive and try to escape first. On provocation or threatening it throws half of fore body into loose loops with head on the top. Gives mock attacks first and can bite on approaching closer. Female directly gives birth to 6-14 young during July to September


Feeds mainly on frogs and rodents. Also feeds on other snakes and small birds. Foraging done in ambush manner and don't follow chasing its prey.


Threats includes killing by locals because of its venomous nature and fascinating green color. Other major threats are destruction of dense vegetation of low heights and road kills. As it is an endemic species it is coming under demand by breeders of various parts of world. Exploitation for venom appears not likely to be high but still for research purpose it can be done at small scale.


3. Malabar Pit Viper

Scientific NameTrimeresurus malabaricus

Regional Names 

Kannada : ಹಪ್ಪಾಟೆ ಹಾವು, ಮಲೆ ಮಂಡಲ ಹಾವು


Endemic to Western Ghats. Found in Western Ghats of Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Venom Type : Haemotoxic

Family : Viperidae

Characteristics for identification: 

Typical Pit Viper (Trimeresurus genus) like looking with number of color and patterns on superficial observation.


Can grow upto 105 cm.

Hide Scalation


Supralabial 9 or 10; first completely separated from nasal; single row of scales between supralabial and elongated subocular; supraocular broken or their inner margins indented by neighbour scales; 7-9 scales between eyes.


Weakly keeled scales in  rows.


143-158 (Male) , 136-159 (Female) ; anal undivided.


Feeds on frogs, lizards, rodents and sometimes on other snakes.


4. Hump Nosed Pit Viper

Scientific Name :  Hypnale hypnale 

Regional Names: 

English : Merrem's Hump-nosed Pit Viper

Kannada : ತಗಡು ಹಪ್ಪಟೆ ಹಾವು, ಉಬ್ಬು ಮೂಗಿನ ಮಂಡಲ

Marathi : नाकाड्या चापडा

Venom Type : Haemotoxic

Family : Viperidae

Characteristics for identification

Scales smooth or weakly keeled, Triangular head dinstinctly broader than neck. Small tail, Body Light brown to Chocolate brown. Top head brown separated from black side of head by a distinct pale yellow or white line. Tail tip yellowish/reddish brown. Common name is misleading as the snout is turned up very slightly.


Nocturnal and terrestrial, found in Evergreen to dry deciduous forest. mostly spotted under rocks,dry leaves and under logs with its head angled upwards. Excellently  camouflaged. Juvenile wriggles tail to lure prey.

Hide Scalation 


Canthus rostralis  distinct.  Supralabial  7 or 8.


Upper rows feebly keeled, scale rows in 17/19:17:15/17 rows


134-149 (India), 142-158 (Sri Lanka)

Sub Caudal: 

33-46 (India), 32-48 (Sri Lanka); paired, sometimes few of them entire


Found under rocks, inside logs, under leaves and in low bushes

Diet : Feeds on Geckos, small rodents, Reptile eggs and frogs

Bite symptoms 

Venom seems to be quite toxic and bites may cause considerable swelling and pain. No fatalities recorded


5. Horse Shoe Pit Viper

Scientific Name :  Trimeresurus  strigatus

Regional Names 

Kannada : ಕುದುರೆಲಾಳ ಮಂಡಲ ಹಾವು, ಕುದುರೇಲಾಳ ಹಪ್ಪಾಟೆ ಹಾವು

Venom Type : Haemotoxic

Family  : Viperidae



Hide Scalation


Supralabial 8-10; first completely separated from nasal; second supralabial separated from scale forming anterior border of pit; single row of scales between supralabial and elongated subocular; narrow supraocular indented on inner margins by neighbour scales; 8-10 scales between eyes.


Weakly keeled scales on upper side; in 19/21: 21/23: 15/17 rows.


135-144 (Male), 131-142 (Female); anal undivided.

Sub Caudal

35-42 (Male), 32-35 (Female); paired. Hemipenis extends to 10th caudal.


6. Large Scaled Pit Viper

Scientific Name : Trimeresurus macrolepis 

Regional Names

English : Large-scale Pit Viper

Kannada : ದೊಡ್ಡಪಟ್ಟೆಯ ಮಂಡಲ ಹಾವು

Venom Type : Haemotoxic

Family : Viperidae

Characteristics for identification

Dorsal body perrot green or yellowish-green. Very large scales in whole body and much lower in number as compared to other Pit Vipers of India.


Total length 47.5 cm (Male), 58 cm (Female) mm; tail length 11 cm (Male), 11.5 cm (Female).

Hide Scalation


Supralabial 7 or 8; first completely separated from nasal; single row of scales between supralabial and elongated subocular; supraocular very large; separated by 1 or 3 large scales.


Keeled and strongly imbricated  scales in 17:12-15:9/10 rows.


133-140 (Male), 135-143 (Female).

Sub Caudal 

53-56 (Male), 44-58 (Female); paired; tail prehensile. Hemipenis extends to 20th-21st caudal plate, forked opposite the 5th.


Inputs By 

Vishwanath R  Dugganahalli

Information  and Picture Courtesy : www.Indiansnakes.org and google

Abenteuer India

Summiters was founded  by Vishwanath in the year 2005.  Being an avid nature enthusiast he started this concern as a freelancer and also helped a lot of fellow enthusiasts.  He is a certified Mountaineer  from Nehru institute of mountaineering and trained Wilderness First Responder  from NOLS ; USA.  He conducts wilderness camps in Western ghats , Himalayas and also locally.  He has custom designed  and executed various outdoor based learning activities at school, colleges and corporate levels.  In addition to these, he is a trained passionate PADI scuba diver, a  freelance writer and photographer. His  articles and photographs have been published  in several mainstream news papers and magazines.  He participates at National, International level photo salons and has won several certificate's of merit.

Vishwanath maintains his blogs at: http://.vishwanath.summiters.net/

Summiters in Khabar Magazine

For more details Click here

Contact Information

   Vishwanath : +91 97403 60365
          Nitish : +91 99453 98774

   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

   # 822, Dwarakawasa
         4th Block, 8th Main
         BEL Layout, Vidyaranyapura
         Bangalore-560097, Karnataka

Important Forms & Information

Important Forms

Indemnity Form

Medical Report Form


Quick Links

Cancellation Policy


Go to top