Asian Vine Snake

Ahaetulla prasina

Last updated: May 23, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock.com

This snake chews on its victims to release venom

Asian Vine Snake Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squmata
Family
Colubridae
Genus
Ahaetulla
Scientific Name
Ahaetulla prasina

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Asian Vine Snake Conservation Status

Asian Vine Snake Locations

Asian Vine Snake Locations

Asian Vine Snake Facts

Prey
Frogs, lizards, insects, small birds
Main Prey
Frogs
Name Of Young
Neonate or snakelets
Fun Fact
This snake chews on its victims to release venom
Estimated Population Size
Unknown
Biggest Threat
None
Most Distinctive Feature
Pencil-thin body
Distinctive Feature
Their head is spear-shaped and pointed
Other Name(s)
Gunther’s whip snake, Oriental whip snake, and Boie’s whip snake
Diet
Carnivore
Common Name
Asian vine snake

Asian Vine Snake Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Green
Skin Type
Scales
Lifespan
5 - 12 years
Length
2.5 - 5 feet
Venomous
Yes
Aggression
Low

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The Asian vine snake’s long, thin tongue resembles a worm that can lure in frogs and other prey.

An Asian vine snake is also called Gunther’s whip snake. It’s native to Southeast Asia and lives in a forest habitat. This snake is notable for its bright green scales and a body the width of a pencil. It’s venomous with a diet of frogs and lizards. The population of this snake is stable and its listed as Least Concern by conservationists.

4 Amazing Facts

  1. It gives live birth to as many as ten neonates, also known as snakelets
  2. Along with striking its prey, this snake chews on it to release venom
  3. Its body is the width of a pencil
  4. Its green scales are so bright they can sometimes appear to be fluorescent

Where to Find Asian Vine Snakes

The Asian vine snake also called Gunther’s whip snake live in Southeast Asia. Its range includes the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. As its name indicates, these snakes spend a lot of time blending in with the branches of trees in forests. They live in moist or dry forests as well as in a shrubland habitat.

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These snakes live in a tropical climate and are active throughout the year. They hunt for food during the day.

Scientific Name

Ahaetulla prasina is the scientific name of the Asian vine snake. It’s also called Gunther’s whip snake and Oriental whip snake. The Latin word prasina translates to leek green. It’s a member of the Colubridae family and the Reptilia class.

There are three subspecies of this snake:



  • Ahaetulla prasina medioxima
  • Ahaetulla prasina preocularis
  • Ahaetulla prasina suluensis

Population & Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species doesn’t have a total population listed for these snakes. But it is described as widespread and commonplace in the Philippines and Indochina. It has a stable population.

Appearance & Description

The Asian vine snake has bright green scales. Some of these snakes have a yellow stripe on their back while others have a pattern of blue lines running through their scales.

The head of an Asian vine snake is pointed and has been compared to a spear. If you study the shape of this snake’s head, you’ll notice a bump on both sides at the back of its head. These bumps contain the venom glands of this snake.

One of the most interesting facts about this snake’s fangs is they’re located in the back of its mouth. Each fang is grooved so when the venom drips from its venom glands, it runs down the groove of its fangs.

The width of this snake’s body is similar to a pencil. Its length ranges from 2.5 to 5 feet.

These snakes have a vertical black pupil in each of their yellow eyes. This feature is different from the green vine snake that is native to South America. This snake has the same bright green scales and pointed head. However, the green vine snake has round black pupils.

How to identify an Asian vine snake:

  • Bright green scales with a yellow stripe or a blue-lined pattern
  • Pointed, spear-like head
  • Bumps on the sides of its head that hold venom Black vertical pupils in yellow eyes
An Asian vine snake hangs from a tree branch
Asian vine snakes are as thin as a pencil

Lauren Suryanata/Shutterstock.com

Asian Vine Snake Venom: How Dangerous Are They?

These snakes have a venomous bite. But its venom is considered mild and not dangerous to humans. This is why some people keep this snake as a pet. Of course, its venomous bite is deadly to this snake’s prey.

Though this snake is aggressive when hunting its prey, it’s only likely to bite a human if it feels threatened.

If someone gets a bite from this snake, the first step in first-aid care is to wash the wound with soap and water. Next, put first-aid ointment on the wound and cover it with a clean bandage. If there’s excessive pain, swelling, or a rash, then it’s a good idea to see a medical professional for care to check for an infection.

Asian Vine Snake Behavior and Humans

The Asian vine snake aka Gunther’s whip snake is aggressive toward its prey but has an otherwise mild temperament. It’s sometimes kept as a pet. However, keeping this snake as a pet is not advisable. It requires special care in the form of a diet that includes amphibians.

Generally, these snakes don’t stray from their forest habitat where they hide among the branches of the trees.







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Asian Vine Snake FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Asian vine snakes venomous?

Yes, Asian vine snakes are venomous. As a note, their venom is mild, so they aren’t considered a threat to humans.

How do Asian vine snakes hunt?

This snake’s narrow, green body allows it to blend in with the branches and vines of a tree. These snakes are even known to practice a swaying motion to further blend in with their forest habitat. Not surprisingly, the reptile is easily able to hide from lizards and other types of prey that inhabit the trees.

An Asian vine snake’s thin, narrow tongue can look a lot like a worm to a frog or a lizard. So, if this snake is on the ground moving through a swampy area in its habitat, it will use its tongue to lure a frog or toad toward it. The snake captures its prey before it has a chance to realize it is not pursuing a worm!

The snake strikes at its prey, grabbing it and releasing its venom. One of the most intriguing facts about this snake is it will not just strike, but chew on its prey. This chewing behavior releases more venom into the frog, lizard, or other small animal.

Are Asian vine snakes aggressive?

When it comes to capturing their food, these snakes are aggressive hunters. They aim their spear-like head at the neck of their prey. But they are not aggressive toward humans which is why some people think of this snake as a pet.

Where do Asian vine snakes live?

They live in Southeast Asia specifically in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

They get their name from their forest habitat. This snake blends into a group of tree branches like it’s just another vine!

What do Asian vine snakes eat?

Their main source of food is frogs, but they eat lizards and insects as well. Sometimes they eat small birds.

How big do Asian vine snakes get?

An Asian vine snake can grow as long as five feet!

Can Asian vine snakes kill you?

No. This snake’s bite contains a mild venom that is not harmful to humans unless someone has a specific allergy.

What other names does the Asian vine snake go by?

This snake has several other names including the Gunther’s whip snake, Oriental whip snake, and Boie’s whip snake. All of these names refer to its narrow body resembling a whip.

Sources
  1. IUCN Red List, Available here: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/176329/123302214
  2. The Living Planet, Available here: https://thelivingplanet.com/animal/asian-vine-snake/
  3. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahaetulla_prasina
  4. Monaco Nature Encyclopedia, Available here: https://www.monaconatureencyclopedia.com/ahaetulla-prasina/?lang=en
  5. Learn About Critters, Available here: https://www.learnaboutcritters.org/rear-fanged/
  6. Thai National Parks, Available here: https://www.thainationalparks.com/species/ahaetulla-prasina
  7. Ecology Asia, Available here: https://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/snakes/oriental_whip-snake.htm

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