Medo pit viper

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A. Captain/ADU LLW ME/The Lisus

WHERE: North-eastern tip of Arunachal

STATUS: Endangered

MEDO PIT VIPERS do not figure in the Wildlife Protection Act, but then all endangered species do not make it to the official list. It must be saved because, like most snakes, it plays its part in controlling pests. “But really because it is beautiful,” says Ashok Captain, one of the team that discovered this viper — previously recorded only in China and Myanmar — near Shiddi (Gandhigram), Arunachal Pradesh in 1999. This snake has a pit (from which it earned its name) between its eye and nostril, that can detect temperature differences as low as 0.003 degrees Celsius and thereby sense its prey. This is especially useful since the medo pit viper hunts in the dark. This arboreal snake uses its prehensile tail to hold branches, and for balance. It has a venomous bite, though reportedly not fatal. The main threats to its existence are its narrow choice of distribution, loss of habitat, and killing inspired by fear.

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