IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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The dangerously venomous Ovophis monticola is the best known Ovophis species. Ovophis monticola are terrestrial, nocturnal snakes that occur at moderate altitudes and favor moist conditions, feeding largely on rodents and reacting aggressively to disturbance. They reach sexual maturity at around 3 years of age and females lay 5–18 eggs and guard their clutch for around 2 months until hatching occurs. Leviton et al. (2003) describe Ovophis monticola as crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk), secretive, and sluggish, and most often encountered tucked away in piles of wood, logs, and rocks, as well as in rock crevices.They give the elevational range as 700–2400 m. They note that at east in the early 20th century, Ovophis monticola was reported to be common around villages.

Ovophis are relatively large, broad-bodied pit vipers with pronounced sexual size dimorphism. They are widely distributed in mountainous regions throughout Asia. Ovophis monticola occurs in Nepal, northeastern India, Myanmar, northern Thailand, southern Laos, southwestern China (Sichuan and Yunnan), and northern and central Vietnam. Leviton et al. (2003) describe the distribution of O. monticola as widely distributed from the eastern Himalayas, Myanmar, southeastern Xizang (Tibet) and Yunnan, Thailand, southern China, Taiwan, and Vietnam to the Malaysian Peninsula and western Indonesia (Sumatra). In Myanmar, found in the temperate and subtropical forests  of northern Kachin State, from elevations around 1100 m.

Leviton et al. (2003) noted that several subspecies of O. monticola have been recognized: O. m. monticola (sometimes in genus Trimeresurus) for the westernmost populations from Nepal, northeastern India, Myanmar, and Yunnan & Szechwan (=Sichuan) Provinces of China; O. m. convictus for populations in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, West Malaysia, and western Indonesia; O. m. makazayazaya from eastern China and Taiwan; and O. m. zayuensis from the type locality at Zayti Co. Xizang (Tibet), China. Leviton et al. (2003) took no position on the validity of these subspecies, but concurred that they are all clearly members of a “monticola” species group.

Investigations in recent years have revealed previously unrecognizerd complexity and important new insights with respect to the systematics of Asian pit vipers. For example, the species known as "Ovophis chaseni" (known only from the mountains of northern Borneo) is apparently not closely related to any other extant pit vipers and the species known as "Ovophis okinavensis" is apparently more closely related to Trimeresurus gracilis than to other Ovophis species--and T. gracilis is apparently not actually a part of the Trimeresurus radiation (Malhotra and Thorpe 2004 and refereces therein; Tsai et al. 2012 and references therein)!

Malhotra et al. (2011) undertook a broad phylogenetic analysis of Ovophis and concluded that the genus includes five very similar but diagnosable species:

O. makazayazaya (Taiwan, eastern and western China, northern Vietnam)

O. tonkinensis (southern China, northern and central Vietnam)

O. monticola (Nepal, northeastern India, Myanmar, northern Thailand, southern Laos, southwestern China [Sichuan and Yunnan], and northern and central Vietnam)

O. zayuensis (Xizang, Yunnan, northeastern India, and Myanmar)

O. convictus (West Malaysia)

(Malhotra et al. 2011 and references therein)

Leviton et al. (2003) provide a technical description of Ovophis monticola:

Body stout; snout short, a little more than twice the length of the diameter of the eye; head covered above by small scales rather than large shields, scales usually smooth, feebly imbricate; first upper labial not fused to nasal, completely separated by a suture; body scales  smooth or weakly keeled in 23-25 (occasionally 19 or 21) longitudinal rows at midbody; supraoculars larg, 5-9 scales in a line between them; internasals usually not in contact with one another, separated by 2 small suprapostrostral scales 7-10 upper labials, second usually fused to the scale bordering the facial sensory pit anteriorly, fourth and fifth beneath eye but separated from orbit by 2-4 series of small scales; ventrals and subcaudals (Myanmar, northeastern India and adjacent areas of China and Thailand) 137-176 and 36-62, respectively, subcaudals mixed paired and single, occasionally all unpaired  (ventrals and subcaudals for southern China, Vietnam, Laos: 127-144 and 36-54, and Malaysian Peninsula 133-137 and 22-28, respectively. Total length: males 490 mm, females 1100 mm; tail length males 80 mm, females 150 mm.


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