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White Lip Tree Viper, Cryptelytrops albolabris

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Cryptelytrops
Species: albolabris

Description: White lip tree vipers make an amazing display snake. They have bright green coloring and yellow, beady eyes with sinister vertical pupils.

They are from the genus Cryptelytrops, which are a group of arboreal pit vipers found in Asia.  They can be quite aggressive but settle well in captivity. White lips are active both day and night, waiting motionless from a branch, hanging in an S-shaped position, for prey to come past. They then grab their prey and hang with it in the air. They reach a total length of about 30 to 40 inches.

Acclimation and Quarantine Quarantine and acclimation enclosures need not be elaborate, but rather sterile and easy to clean. Plastic storage bins are often used for such enclosures as they are easy to clean, come in a variety of sizes, and most provide the security needed new snake. Paper towels, newspapers, or other easily cleaned materials may be used as the substrate. A few simple branches or pieces of pvc can provide climbing opportunities. A ceramic crock could be used as the water bowl as these are powerful snakes and are likely to tip lighter dishes. A hide of some sort, and foliage should also be incorporated into the quarantine enclosure. This setup should be used until the snake is feeding regularly and appears to be in good health.

Housing: Being an arboreal species, they are best kept in a vertically oriented glass enclosure with branches at different levels. Artificial or live foliage is suggested because they will not use a hide box but will coil up amongst the leaves.

White lips are tropical snakes, so the temp should be kept at about 82 to 85 F. Humidity needs to also be quite high, so mist the enclosure every other day. By doing so, you will ensure hydration and easy molting.

Acceptable substrates are fertilizerless top soi, cypress bark or any tropical blend that can retain moisture without promoting mold.

Juveniles should be kept in separate plastic containers with moist paper towel on the bottom. Provide a couple of perches for them to climb. Keep them in these manner until they are feeding on rodents reliably. Juveniles are also known to be cannibalistic, so be careful when keeping snakes together.

Feeding: These snakes have a bad reputation for being problem feeders but once they are feeding on rodents, they are ferocious eaters and eat virtually anything you give them. Naturally in the wild these snakes feed on frogs, lizards and geckos. This is the reason why juveniles are problem feeders. Once they are established feeders there are no problems.

On occasion, newborns will take a pink without any coaxing as their first meal, but this is not common. They will readily eat small lizards, but you should try getting them onto pinky mice as soon as possible. You can do this by scenting the pinks with a lizard. The scent of lizard or gecko tail blood works great for scenting. Using the blood from the broken tail on the pinky will often result with a feeding response. Using a live pinky will help because they are pit vipers and they can see the heat. Tease feeding may be nescessary to elicit a strike that results in a feeding response. They sometimes bite and then will just hang on and eat. This process can be extremely quick or take a few weeks. Remember, persistence is key, so don't give up and be patient. Frogs are good to scent the pinkies withas well.  Just rub the pinkie directly onto the frogs skin.

Try not to disturb the snake while it is feeding as they are quite nervous.

Water: Newborn and wild caught whitelips don't naturally drink water from a dish. They will drink off their bodies, leaves and from the side of the enclosure. Mist the enclosure for both humidity and drinking water! Leave a shallow container of water on the bottom however, as well acclimated specimens will readily drink from a dish. It will also aid with humidity.

A NOTE ABOUT VENOM: While not often fatal to a healthy adult, the bite of a white lip viper is a serious matter that should receive medical evaluation.

As mentioned, primarly a cytotoxic venom, localized swelling and bruising is common. In many bites tissue damage will develop. Gangrenous infections are not unheard of as tissue becomes necrotic.

As with all venomous animals, proper handling techniques and tools should be followed and used.

When working with ANY VENOMOUS ANIMAL, ALWAYS HAVE A PREPARED BITE PROTOCOL THAT CAN BE PROVIDED TO EMERGENCY RESPONDERS AND DOCTORS! Many doctors, especially regarding exotic animals have little to no knowledge nor experience with the effects of venom and it's damage to the body; and most likely will not know how to treat you.