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Pit viper
Crotalus horridus (1).jpg
Timber rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus
Scientific classification
Crotalinae [1]

The Crotalinae, also known as the "pit vipers" or "crotaline snakes", are a subfamily of venomous vipers found in Asia and the Americas.

There are 18 genera and 151 species which are currently found: 7 genera and 54 species in the Old World, and 11 genera and 97 species in the New World. They are the only known vipers found in the Americas. Some of the snakes which belong in this group are the rattlesnakes, lanceheads and Asian pitvipers.

Description[change | change source]

Pit vipers range in size from the hump-nosed viper, Hypnale hypnale, which grows to the length of around 30–45 centimetres (12–18 in), to the South American bushmaster, Lachesis muta, which is known to grow to a length of 3.65 metres (12.0 ft), making it the longest venomous snake in the New World. Some pit vipers are arboreal (meaning they live in trees), some are terrestrial (meaning they live on the ground), and one species is even semi-aquatic: the cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus.

Where they live[change | change source]

This subfamily of snakes is found from eastern Europe, eastward through Asia to Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In the Americas, they are found from southern Canada, southward to Central America to southern South America. Members of this group are found in deserts and rainforests.

Reproduction[change | change source]

Pit vipers are mainly viviparous, meaning the females give live birth. It is believed that all oviparous Pit vipers guard their eggs. Many young pit vipers have brightly coloured tails which is different to the rest of their body.

Genera[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. vol 1, Herpetologists' League. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Crotalinae at Wikimedia Commons