Population in the wild
500
IUCN status
Endangered
Scientific name
Protobothrops mangshanensis
Order
Squamata
Type
Reptiles

Venomous snakes

Mangshan pit vipers are one of the rarest of all snakes and were only identified by the scientific world in 1990. They're extremely well camouflaged and found solely within a 115-square-mile area of densely forested mountains on Mount Mang in southeast China, the mountain sits on the border between Hunan and Guangdong provinces. Mangshan vipers are large snakes, reaching just over 2 metres in length and weigh up to 4 kg and they're both highly venomous and extremely quick.

Mangshan vipers have one of the highest venom yields of any snake and currently there is no anti-venom for their species. As pit vipers, they detect heat using loreal heat pits and they have large fangs which a help them take down prey. Mangshan vipers are ambush predators that feed on birds and rodents, and are able to use their tail as a lure to bring prey into striking range by wiggling it about to attract their prey. This species is egg laying and it lays between 20-27 eggs.

Mangshan pit viper with forked tongue out
Mangshan pit viper close up

Mangshan viper threats

The exotic pet trade is one of the biggest threats to Mangshan vipers, as their striking colours make them sought after by hobbyists. The international trade in this species is now regulated by CITES. Deforestation between the 1950s and the 1980s has reduced their habitat, and there may only be 500 remaining in the wild.

Reptiles at the Zoo

  • Komodo dragon at London Zoo
    Varanus komodoensis

    Komodo dragon

    The largest and heaviest reptile in the world, which can eat up to 80% of its body weight in just one feeding.

  • Two Galapagos tortoises at London Zoo
    Chelonoidis sp.

    Galapagos tortoise

    With a lifespan of 177 years old, some Galapagos tortoises alive today would have around since before the American civil war. 

  • Big-headed turtle, it has a proportionally huge head and a long tail, and is a reddish-brown in appearance.
    Platysternon megacephalum

    Big-headed turtle

    This turtle’s head is so big it can’t be withdrawn inside its shell. Instead, the top and sides of its head are covered with a large bony ‘roof’ that acts like armour. 

  • Philippine Crocodile at London Zoo
    Crocodylus mindorensis

    Philippine crocodile

    There are one only around 120 left in the wild, but we are working to recover Philippine crocodiles at the Zoo and in the field.

  • Blue tree monitor close up
    Varanus macraei

    Blue tree monitor

    Blue tree monitors are known for their amazing puzzle solving intelligence, and are isolated to a small island in Indonesia, which is around the same size as the Isle of Wight. 

  • Anam leaf turtle at London Zoo
    Mauremys annamensis

    Annam leaf turtle

    The anam leaf turtle is one of the most endangered reptiles on earth, there are only around 50 remaining individuals in the wild. Little is known about them, but we are working to better understand the species.