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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Common Mock Viper

Fig 1

Fig 2
ゥ  Celine Low
Fig 3
ゥ  Celine Low
Fig 4
ゥ  Derek Clark


Species : Psammodynastes pulverulentus
Maximum Size : 77 cm

With its large head and bold disposition, this species has long been called the Mock Viper, given its similarity to true vipers. It was once considered 'common' in Peninsular Malaysia. Though this is a harmless, back-fanged species, its readiness to bite may result in a painful skin puncture wound from its sharp front teeth.

It is light to dark brown or greyish above, with a typical bifurcating pattern on top of the head. Light and dark brown stripes also extend along the length of the body, punctuated in places by small black spots with a white centre. The underside is pale, speckled with brown. The eye is of medium size with a vertical pupil.

The species is active both day and night, and feeds on frogs, geckos and skinks.

The Common Mock Viper is found in a wide range of elevations, from forested lowlands to montane regions of up to 1600 metres. It ranges from the Indian Subcontinent, through Indochina and parts of Southern China to Peninsular Malaysia, most of Indonesia and the Philippines. It has not been recorded in Singapore.

Fig 1 : Dark brown, plump specimen from Fraser's Hill, Peninsular Malaysia at an elevation of around 1300 metres, warming itself in the morning sun.

Figs 2 and 3 : Specimen from Fraser's Hill, Peninsular Malaysia at an elevation of around 1000 metres. Photos thanks to Celine Low.

Fig 4 : Juvenile (25 cm total length) from Siem Reap, Cambodia nestled inside a fallen leaf. Photo thanks to Derek Clark.

References : H1, H3, H4