Rare Mountain Pit Viper found in Guangdong

November 24, 2007 12:00 am Last Updated: November 24, 2007 12:00 am

There are only approximately five-hundred mountain pit vipers found in the world, and recently one these very rare snakes was discovered in a Shaoguan mountain village of Guangdong Province.

According to Nanfang Daily , on November 15 a pit viper, also known as the “little green dragon” was found by three rangers at a site about 910 meters above sea level and around five hundred kilometers from the forest center in Shaoguang Lechang City.

Zoology expert Gong Shiping (from the Research Institute of Zoology in the Guangdong Academy of Science) rushed to the site of discovery the following day, and after a thorough investigation, verified the snake was indeed a mountain pit viper.

Gong Shiping said that this discovery of the viper is just as astonishing and meaningful as the discovery of the Huanan Tigers.

Mountain pit vipers are considered a rare treasure in China. The total length of the viper can reach up to two meters and it is very poisonous. The head is brownish-black and carries its typical markings of yellowish-green. The vipers' tail is of a solid pale yellowish-green (or sometimes near plain white). It is estimated that there are only five hundred of these vipers found in the world, located mostly in the Mangshan Reserve of Hunan Province.

Gong Shiping determined the viper was about three years-old, weighing five to six kilograms and measuring around 2.5 meters in length.

The local historian stated that throughout the years there has been talk of finding mountain pit vipers, and sometimes even of villagers hunting for them. It is said that the market price of a pit viper has recently inflated up to one million yuan (about US $ 125,000) a snake.

The rangers said that two years ago there were over 30 vipers captured and sold, last year there were 15 sold, and at least seven or eight were sold this year.

Mountain pit vipers were first discovered in 1989. There are around thirty some different types of vipers in the world. However, the mountain pit viper is the largest, which explains why it is called a Mangshan iron head snake in Chinese.

Not only are Mountain pit vipers very rare and precious, they are also very beautiful. Due to their colorful bodies and special markings, they are nicknamed the “panda of snakes.”