Kaulback’s Lance-Headed Pit Viper ( Protobothrops kaulbacki Smith, 1940 )

  • Sharebar
Scientific Name: 
Protobothrops kaulbacki (Smith, 1940)
Regional Names: 
Kaulback’s Pit Viper
Profile View : Kaulback’s Lance-Headed Pit Viper -Protobothrops kaulbacki
As per couurent records it is found only in Papum Pare District Arunachal Pradesh in India .
Characteristics for identification: 

Scales in 23–25 longitudinal rows at mid-body; body elongate, head long, massive, with narrow snout; canthus rostralis sharp; single large, squarish loreal; 8 supralabials; first supralabials completely separated from nasal by a suture; second supralabial anteriorly bordering facial pit; 8–10 scales in line between supraoculars; supraoculars usually single, flat, without a vertical projection; dull grayish or olive green with large, blackish rhombohedral dorsal blotches, either distinct or united to one another; smaller spots on sides; symmetrical yellow lines on head; notice bands of yellow, brownish black with greenish sheen on the entire tail in adults, the bands start from the anal region till the tip of the tail; sub-caudals paired; ventrals 201–212; sub-caudals 66–78, some of the anterior scutes may be single, others paired; hemipenes with spines. Total length males 1340 mm, females 1410 mm; tail length males 225 mm, females 230 mm. [After LEVITON 2003]



Total length 134 cm (Male), 141 cm (Female) mm; tail length 22.5 cm (Male), 23 cm (Female).

Snout 3 times long than eye diameter; rostral trapeziform, visible from above; internasals large; in contact with each other or separated by 1-2 scales; 2 enlarged scales between internasal and supraocular; upper head scales unequal; smooth; scarcely imbricate; supralabial 8; first completely separated from nasal; second forms anterior border of pit; scales between third supralabial and subocular 1-3; single or no series of scales between supralabials and subocular; supraocular large, flat, usually undivided; 8-10 scales between them; number of scales around the supraocular 9-12; loreal 1, large; postocular 2-3; temporal scales smooth; infralabial 12–14; first in contact with each other; first 2 or 3 in contact with chinshield; 5-6 scales between chinshield and the first ventral.
Except outer 1-3 rows other dorsals keeled scales in 23/25:25/27:17/19 rows.
Sub Caudal: 
66-78; paired; some of anterior scales may be undivided. Hemipenis with spines.
Natural History: 
Very poorly known snake. Not much is known about its natural history or ecology. The nearest relatives the Bothrops are ground dwelling, so many scientists are of the opinion that P. kaulbacki is also a ground dwelling species. But in most cases we found them extremely high on the trees. One was found almost 10 meters above on the crux of a tree amidst wild orchids and creepers. This behavior may be attributed to prey selection or a defensive strategy as the region where we found them is also home to Kingcobras. Mild temperament, slow moving but capable of sudden fast strikes. Known to hunt small to medium sized mammals and birds. Females fiercely guard their clutch of eggs. Eggs are laid inside tree hollows and under huge fallen logs. The Kaulback’s pit viper is feared by the Nyishi tribes of Arunachal Pradesh to insane levels. They call it the “Barta”. Whenever the Nyishi tribals come across one it is sure to be killed. They also swear upon at someone using the term “Barta”.
Bite symptoms: 

Not known how toxic the venom is. There are very few cases of bites known to science with very little mortality. But a bite from a large individual may be fatal.

Authors & Contributors: