Rarest Pit Viper Found In Arunachal Pradesh
The new species also makes Arunachal Pradesh the only Indian State to have a pit viper named after it
Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh with 81 per cent forest coverage has gifted the rarest pit viper to animal lovers of the world, State’s Environment & Forest department research assistant Dr Bharat Bhusan Bhatt informed.
Quoting the discovery of a new species of reddish-brown pit viper – a venomous snake with a unique heat-sensing system - from a forest in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, he said that a team of herpetologists led by Ashok Captain have found the fifth brown pit viper of India but with a reddish tinge.
The new species also makes Arunachal Pradesh the only Indian state to have a pit viper named after it and also the single known specimen of this species making it currently the rarest pit viper in the world. The specimen was donated to the museum of the State Forest Research Institute in Itanagar.
Though Dr Bhatt had shown the picture of the viper during an interview with PCCF (WL&BD)-cum-chief wildlife warden Dr Bipin Behari on April 29 last but was waiting for the green signal to make it public.
The discovery, published in the March-April volume of Russian Journal of Herpetology, makes the Arunachal pit viper (Trimeresurus Arunachalensis) the second serpent to have been discovered after the non-venomous crying keelback in the State’s Lepa-Rada district in 2018.
Captain, who made the discovery with V. Deepak, Rohan Pandit, Dr Bhatt, and Ramana Athreya, said India had four brown pit vipers before the Arunachal Pradesh discovery. Those are Malabar, Horseshoe, Hump-nosed and Himalayan, discovered 70 years ago.
“We don’t know anything of the Arunachal pit viper’s natural history as only one male has been found so far. More surveys and sightings of this species would gradually give us an idea of its habits, diet and breeding, whether it lays eggs or bears live young,” he said.
Led by Athreya, a research team from Pune-based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, had encountered the snake while conducting biodiversity surveys in Eaglenest region of Arunachal Pradesh. A resident of the area had first shown Pandit the snake in a forest patch near Ramda village.
Comparative analyses of DNA sequences by Deepak and examination of morphological features by Captain suggested that the snake belonged to a species not described before, he siad.
With through survey assisted by in-depth research, this Himalayan state, one of the world’s “ecological hotspots” and considered as one of the 18 “biodiversity hotspots”, could give many more surprises to the animal lovers and researchers, Dr Bhatta added.
Also read: Arunachal news