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White-lipped Tree Viper

White-lipped Tree Viper (Trimeresurus albolabris) Care Sheet

Taxonomy
(Trimeresurus albolabris)

  • Kingdom:
  • Animalia
  • Phylum:
  • Chordata
  • Class:
  • Reptilia
  • Order:
  • Squamata
  • Family:
  • Viperidae
  • Genus:
  • Trimeresurus
  • Species:
  • albolabris

White-lipped Tree Viper
(Trimeresurus albolabris)

White-lipped Tree Viper (Trimeresurus albolabris)

Description - Behavior

White lipped tree vipers are an amazing display snake. Their bright green coloring and yellow eyes, with sinister vertical pupils, make them "almost" appear plastic. They are from the genus trimeresurus, which are a group of arboreal pit vipers found in Asia. They have a mild cytotoxic venom which will cause major swelling, extreme pain, and can result in tissue damage. In proportion to their size, they have massive fangs! They can be quite aggressive but settle well in captivity.

They are ambush predators and wait motionless, hanging in an S-shaped position, for prey to come past. They then grab their prey and hang with it in the air. These snakes have a bad reputation for being problem feeders but once they are feeding on rodents, they are ferocious eaters and eat virtually anything you give them.

Size

They reach a total length of about 30 to 40 inches.

White-lipped Tree Viper (Trimeresurus albolabris)

Housing

As these snakes are an arboreal species, they are best kept in a tall, glass enclosure with many branches at different levels. Put lots of foliage because they will not use a hide box but will coil up among the leaves. They are tropical snakes, so the temp should be kept at about 82 to 85 F. Humidity needs to also be quite high, so mist the enclosure every other day. They need the high humidity and misting will ensure good health and shedding. I have found two good substrates to use. One being vermiculite, because it can handle the humidity and constant spraying. The other one I used was clean black potting soil. It looks very natural and also keeps the humidity nice.

Juveniles should be kept in separate plastic containers with moist paper towel on the bottom. You should also provide a couple of perches for them to climb. I keep them in these until they are feeding on rodents properly because it is easier to work with them individually. Juveniles are also known to be cannibalistic, so be careful when keeping snakes together. Adults seem to enjoy the company of each other in a pair, always sleeping on top of each other. These snakes are nocturnal.

White-lipped Tree Viper (Trimeresurus albolabris)

Feeding

Naturally in the wild these snakes feed on frogs, lizards and geckos. This is the reason why juveniles are problem feeders. But I have found once they are established feeders they have no problems. There are a few cases when newborns take a pink without any coaxing as their first meal, this has only happened for me once.

They will readily eat small lizards, but you should try getting them onto pinky mice as soon as possible. You can do this by scenting the pinks with a lizard (it sounds nasty but once it's done you'll be happy). If you can get one, get a lizard or gecko to shed its tail. Use the broken end and rub the pink with the 'juice'. Using a live pink will help because they are pit vipers and they can see the heat. Try to dangle the item in front of the snakes head and be patient. If after a while nothing happens, try to encourage a defensive strike by lightly tapping the snakes head. They sometimes bite and then will just hang on and eat.
This process can be extremely quick or take a few weeks. Remember, persistence is key, so don't give up and be patient. I have also found that frogs are good to scent the pinkies with. (Not toads, they are toxic.) Just rub the pinkie directly onto the frogs skin (make sure the frog is not poisonous!).
Sometimes, just when you are about to give up, a snake will just take a pink with no help at all.

You need to watch every feeding in case a piece of substrate gets stuck to the prey item. If you use feeding tongs, there should be no problem because they'll take the prey and hang head down with the prey suspended in the air. They'll wait for the prey to die if live and then swallow from that position. Try not disturbing the snake while feeding because they are quite nervous. Always use tongs because they are pit vipers and as soon as they smell/taste food, your warm glowing hand will be the first target.

Water

White-lips don't really drink water from a container. They will drink off their own and each others bodies, off leaves and off the side of the enclosure. You should be misting the enclosure for both humidity and drinking water but I just leave a shallow container of water on the bottom anyway, even if they don't use it to drink it will aid with humidity.

White-lipped Tree Viper (Trimeresurus albolabris)

Advisory

Due to the fact they are venomous and can be tricky feeders, they should not be obtained by youngsters or amateur keepers. They aren't too tricky to handle, just a hook stick can be used. It is sometimes easier to get them onto the hook then take them off. For safeties sake, always carry a second hook stick as a backup in case the snake decides to move along the stick shaft. It also goes without saying, but never, under any circumstances, free handle a venomous snake!

These snakes are an awesome species and can be very rewarding. I would advise paying a bit more and purchasing a yearling or adult that is already eating rodents. They sometimes might not look it but they are very agile and fast moving snakes. They have big fangs and strike super fast and accurate, so Please Be Careful!

Attribution

Author: Devon Massyn
White-lipped Main - © Matt Sprague
White-lipped - © W.A. Djatmiko [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
White-lipped - © W.A. Djatmiko [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
White-lipped - © Thomas Brown [CC-BY-SA-2.0]