Ahaetulla prasina, Green Whip Snake

Ahaetulla prasina

 Green Whip Snake

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Ahaetulla is agenus of colubrid snakes commonly referred to as vine snakes, or whip snakes. They are found predominantly from Sri Lanka India through to Korea and much of southeast Asia, including many Pacific islands. They are mildly venomous and what is commonly termed as 'rear-fanged' or more appropriately, opisthoglyphous, meaning their enlarged teeth or fangs intended to aid in venom delivery are set back in their jaw, instead of in the front like they are in vipers or cobras.


The taxonomy of vine snakes is not well documented, and literature varies widely, but there are 8 commonly accepted species in the genus Ahaetulla:

* G?'s Vine Snake or Indian Bronzeback, Ahaetulla dispar (G?, 1864)
* Speckle-headed Whipsnake, Ahaetulla fasciolata (Fischer, 1885)
* Burmese Vine Snake, Ahaetulla fronticincta (G?, 1858)
* Malayan Green Whipsnake, Ahaetulla mycterizans (Linnaeus, 1758)
* Long-nosed Whip Snake, Ahaetulla nasuta (La C?de, 1789)
* Western Ghats Bronzeback, Ahaetulla perroteti (Dum?l & Bibron, 1854)
* Oriental Whipsnake or Asian Vine Snake, Ahaetulla prasina (Shaw, 1802)
o Ahaetulla prasina prasina (Boie, 1827)
o Ahaetulla prasina medioxima (Lazell, 2002)
o Ahaetulla prasina preocularis (Taylor, 1922)
o Ahaetulla prasina suluensis (Gaulke, 1994)
* Brown-speckled Whipsnake, Ahaetulla pulverulenta (Dum?l & Bibron, 1854)

Ahaetulla prasina, showing keyhole shaped pupil


All Ahaetulla species are characterized by thin, elongated bodies, with extremely long tails and a sharply triangular shaped head. They are primarily green in color, but can vary quite a bit to yellows, oranges, greys, and browns. They can have black and/or white patterning, or can be solid in color. Their eyes are unique in the reptile world, having keen binocular vision and keyhole shaped pupils.


They are primarily diurnal and arboreal, living in humid rainforests. Their diet consists mainly of lizards, but sometimes frogs and rodents are also consumed. Ahaetulla fronticincta, however, feeds exclusively on fish, striking its prey from branches overhanging water. Ahaetulla venom is not considered to be dangerous to humans, but serves to cause paralysis in their fast moving prey choices. They are ovoviviparous.
Ahaetulla prasina, showing rear-set fang

In captivity

Ahaetulla species are frequently imported into the exotic pet trade. They are difficult to care for, requiring a humid arboreal habitat and a diet of lizards as they rarely switch to rodents. They also stress easily, are prone to skin infections, and internal parasites.