The oriental whip snake (Ahaetulla prasina) is a very slim snake that can be brown, green, or a bright yellow-green. Its diet consists of small birds, frogs, and lizards. It is venomous, but the venom is weak and generally not problematic for humans.

As its name suggests, the oriental whip snake, also known as the Asian vine snake, is found throughout Asia. It ranges from India through Southern China and Vietnam, as far south as the Philippines, and east to parts of Indonesia. It is common and widespread throughout this area.

The oriental whip snake can be found in a number of varied habitats. These range from scrublands to primary and secondary moist lowland forests and montane forests to dry forests to monsoon forests. They are also found on cultivated lands, in city and rural gardens, and even along roadsides. They can live anywhere from sea level up to about 1,300 meters (4,250 feet) in elevation. They have adapted well to humans and are commonly found living near them.

The wide range of this snake, as well as its ability to live in such a variety of habitats, helps to keep its population at a healthy level. However, the snake is hunted for medicinal use and captured for the pet trade. Of particular concern is the fate of the snake in Vietnam, where its popularity for use in snake wine and traditional medicines may lead to overharvesting. At this point, there are no protections for the oriental whip snake.

  1. Snakes are reptiles. What characteristics do reptiles share?

    • Answer

      Reptiles are vertebrates. They are cold-blooded and have skin that is covered by scales. They have endemic fertilization and usually lay eggs. They move by crawling or walking on short legs.

  2. How might the oriental whip snake’s ability to live over such a wide range and in such varied habitats help to keep it from becoming endangered?

    • Answer

      Because it ranges over such a large area, threats such as disease or habitat encroachment in one location won’t be likely to damage the whole species. Similarly, since it can live in a variety of habitats, it is more resilient to habitat change, including that caused by human activity.

  3. The oriental whip snake is a venomous snake. How is being venomous different from being poisonous?

    • Answer

      Venomous animals inject their prey with a toxin. Poisonous animals, however, only spread their poison when they are eaten or touched.

elevate
Verb

to raise higher than the surrounding area.

Noun

environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

Noun

seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing winds of a region. Monsoon usually refers to the winds of the Indian Ocean and South Asia, which often bring heavy rains.

montane
Adjective

natural region defined by upland slopes and large conifers.

population
Noun

total number of people or organisms in a particular area.

reptile
Noun

animal that breathes air and usually has scales.

scrub
Noun

area of arid grassland covered with low-lying trees and bushes.

venom
Noun

poison fluid made in the bodies of some organisms and secreted for hunting or protection.