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Mangshan Pit Viper (Protobothrops mangshanensis) Fact Sheet: Behavior & Ecology

Mangshan Pit Viper (Protobothrops mangshanensis)

Activity Cycle

  • Largely inactive

Movements and dispersal

  • Territory/range size unknown
  • Regularly encountered by locals in its habitat



  •  Open mouth "gaping" when agitated (Boyer 2010)


  •  Snakes do not vocalize but they do hiss. (Ernst & Zug 1996)

Agonistic Behavior and Defense


  • Shy, calm
  • Females known to aggressively nest guard their eggs. (Boyer 2010)
  • Male/male combat known during mating season for some species of pit vipers: (Duvall et al 1992)
    • Seen in North American prairie rattlesnake

Territorial Behavior

  • Unknown

Interspecies Interactions

  • Few predators pose a threat
  • Hunted for meat by humans (Boyer 2010)


  • Travel with rectilinear locomotion 
    • Used by heavy bodied snake species such as pythons, boas, and heavy vipers
    • Muscles on ribs attach to skin; elastic skin lifts snake's body forward in waves similar to an earthworm's crawl (Bogert 1947) (Lissmann 1950)
    • Useful when stealthily pursuing prey, crawling into tight spaces; motion is hard to detect
    • New advances in mobile robotics have used this style of locomotion for inspiration (Ghanbari 2008)
  • Also crawl with lateral undulation
    • Muscles activate in sequence from head to tail
    • Most common locomotion style for snakes
  • Can crawl into trees

Snake Personality

Mangshan pit viper coiled and resting

The Mangshan pit viper is a shy, forest-dwelling snake. Little is known about its behavior.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved. Note: This is a cropped image.

Page Citations

Bogert (1947)
Boyer (2010)
Duvall et al. (1992)
Ernst & Zug (1996)
Lissmann (1950)

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