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Gloydius spp., Asian pitvipers

formerly genus Agkistrodon


  • 1. Gloydius angusticeps
  • 2. Gloydius blomhoffii
  • 3. Gloydius brevicaudus
  • 4. Gloydius caraganus
  • 5. Gloydius caucasicus
  • 6. Gloydius cognatus
  • 7. Gloydius halys
  • 8. Gloydius himalayanus
  • 9. Gloydius huangi
  • 10. Gloydius intermedius
  • 11. Gloydius lijianlii
  • 12. Gloydius liupanensis
  • 13. Gloydius monticola
  • 14. Gloydius qinlingensis
  • 15. Gloydius rickmersi
  • 16. Gloydius rubromaculatus
  • 17. Gloydius shedaoensis
  • 18. Gloydius stejnegeri
  • 19. Gloydius strauchi
  • 20. Gloydius tsushimaensis
  • 21. Gloydius ussuriensis


The genus Gloydius was previously included in the genus Agkistrodon.

G. brevicaudus formerly = G. blomhoffii brevicaudus

G. saxatilis and G. shedaoensis formerly considered as subspecies of G. intermedius.

G. ussuriensis formerly = G. caliginosus

G. caraganus = formerly G. halys caraganus

G. caucasicus = formerly  G. halys caucasicus

The former Gloydius saxatils is synonymous with Gloydius intermedius

G. huangi formerly belonging to G. strauchi


Serpentes; Viperidae; Crotalinae

Common names

Asian pitvipers

  • 1. Zioge pitviper
  • 2. Japanese Mamushi, Yangtze Mamushi
  • 3. Short-tailed Mamushi
  • 4. Karaganda pitviper, Karaganda-Otter
  • 5. Caucasian pitviper, Kaukasus-Otter
  • 6. Alashan pitviper, Alashan-Otter
  • 7. Siberian pitviper, Caucasian pitviper, Alashan pitviper, Gobi pitviper
  • 8. Himalayan pitviper
  • 9. Lancang Plateau viper
  • 10. Central Asian pitviper
  • 13. Likiang pitviper
  • 16. Red-spotted alpine pitviper, Togtianhe pitviper
  • 17. Shedao island pitviper
  • 18. Gobi pitviper, Gobi-Otter
  • 19. Strauch's pitviper, Plateau pitviper
  • 20. Tsushima Island pitviper
  • 21. Ussuri Mamushi


Main distribution area in the Far East. Isolated populations also in neighbouring Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as well as Southeastern European Russia. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.

  Map 53 Gloydius spp.



Small snakes, between 40 and 60 cm, G. blomhoffii up to a maximum of 90 cm. Sturdy to slender body. Head clearly distinct from the body, triangular and flat, but quite elongated in  G. angusticeps. Pointed snout. Markings generally consist of dark cross bands on a lighter, grey to brown background. In some species, these cross bands appear as larger circular or semi-circular shapes or smaller blotches on both sides of the spine. Uniformly black individuals are also found among those species whose distribution areas include mountain regions.

The rarest species, G. monticola, as well as G. himalayanus and G. strauchi, live at higher altitudes in alpine regions (a G. himalyanus specimen was found at 4,877 m (!) in India). G. blomhoffii lives in wet, preferably wooded regions, but also in agricultural areas (in particular rice fields); G. halys is found in deserts and semi-deserts, but also on wooded hills and mountains. Active during the day in cool weather and nocturnal in warmer weather. Species that live in northern and cold regions hibernate during the winter months.

When threatened they try to flee whenever possible. If unsuccessful, they flatten their bodies and rapidly vibrate the tip of their tails as a warning signal.


Fatalities very rare, but high morbidity. The majority of bites cause only local symptoms. Nonetheless, extensive necrosis is not uncommon. Asian pitvipers are the only venomous snakes in South Korea and are regularly the cause of snakebites there. The incidence of bites is highest in the warm summer months, from May to September (Sawai and Lah 1978). In Japan, the annual incidence of bites caused by G. blomhoffii blomhoffii is estimated to be over 500, with a mortality rate of 0.9%. Most bites in Japan occur during the day (Toriba and Sawai 1990).

Literature (biological)

Asadi et al. 2019, Bolanos 1984, Campbell and Lamar 1989, David and Vogel 2015, Gloyd and Conant 1989, Jiang and Zhao 2009, McDiarmid et al. 1999, Minton and Rutherford-Minton 1969, Russell 1983, Shi et al. 2018, Toriba 1990b, Toriba and Sawai 1990, Wang et al. 2019, Zhao 1990, Zhou et al. 2001


The Reptile Database