Morni Wildlife (Herpetofauna): White-lipped Green Pit Viper

White-lipped Green Pit Viper, Rasoon, Bhoj Balag, Morni. September 2019 (Photo courtesy Veer Bains).

White-lipped Green Pit Viper is a venomous tree snake that feeds on small mammals, birds and small frogs. It was photographed at around 2 AM on an iron staircase leading to the rooftop. The photographer was walking back ‘barefoot on the roof’ after a star gazing session when he spotted the green blighter curled up on the staircase. It could have fallen down from the Jacaranda that arches over the roof. Or it could have been attracted by the geckos feeding on the insects buzzing around the wall mounted light along the staircase. It took some persuasion and prodding with branches broken from the Jacaranda tree before it allowed the star gazer the right of passage!

The photograph taken with a phone camera is an important record of a major range extension as the pit viper is not known to occur this far west in the Shivaliks. The author had heard an account of a woman from Gajhan village getting bitten on her head by a green snake while collecting tree fodder in her village in Morni. Her head is said to have swollen instantaneously to an enormous size. The lady lived to tell the tale.