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Mangshan Pit Viper (Protobothrops mangshanensis) Fact Sheet, 2011   Tags: asia, china, clutch, conservation, egg, endangered, extinction, fact sheet, fang, forest, infrared, mangshan, pit organ, pit viper, reptile, san diego zoo, sdzg, snake, venom  

Mangshan Pit Viper (Protobothrops mangshanensis)
Last Updated: Apr 19, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Mangshan Pit Viper (Protobothrops mangshanensis)

Mangshan Pit Viper

A young Mangshan pit viper.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia - reptiles

Order: Squamata - amphibians, lizards, snakes, serpents

Family: Viperidae - pit vipers, vipers

Genus: Protobothrops

Species: Protobothrops mangshanensis

Body Weight
3-5 kg and more (6.6-11 lb) for an adult

Body Length
Up to 203 cm (up to 7 ft)

Shades of green, bright green, and yellow-green; brown blotches along its back and sides; last 10 cm (4 in) of its tail is white

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Southeast China (Mangshan Mountain and surrounding areas in Hunan Province, China)

Mature forested areas at elevations of 700-1300 m (2300-4300 ft)

IUCN Status

CITES Appendix
Appendix II

Population in Wild
Possibly 300-500

Lifts its body, moving forward in waves (similar to an earthworm's crawl). Also moves by undulating S-shaped movement (common for snakes).

Activity Cycle
Largely inactive.

Shy, calm. Little studied in the wild.

Insects, small mammals (rodents), and frogs.

Thought to have few predators.

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Eggs laid in leaf litter

Incubation Period
49-51 days (in captivity)

Egg Weight
Up to 40 g (1.4 oz)

Clutch Size
Up to 27 eggs

Birth Weight
28-38 g (1.0-1.3 oz), on average


Feature Facts

  • This species was discovered (1989) and described (1990) relatively recently
  • Like other pit vipers, has special infrared-sensing pit organs to "see" their prey's body heat (warm-bodied mammals); pit organs aid in detection of prey and help guide a strike
  • Venom degrades in sunlight; melanin accumulates around this viper's venom glands to prevent damage to venom
  • Most pit vipers give live birth, but the Mangshan pit viper lays eggs.
  • Little known about many aspects of this animal's biology, including its growth, behavior, and reproductive biology
  • Occupys a small range in China
  • Major threats include illegal hunting and pet trade, logging of forest habitat, and climate change

About This Fact Sheet

© 2011-2017 San Diego Zoo Global. Minor conservation update in 2017.

How to cite: Mangshan Pit Viper (Protobothrops mangshanensis) Fact Sheet, 2011. c2011-2017. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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