Protobothrops flavoviridis

Protobothrops flavoviridis[2] is a species of venomous pit viper endemic to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. No subspecies are currently recognized.[3] Local common names include "habu",[4] "Okinawa habu",[5] and "Kume Shima habu".[6]

Protobothrops flavoviridis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Protobothrops
P. flavoviridis
Binomial name
Protobothrops flavoviridis
(Hallowell, 1861)
  • Bothrops flavoviridis Hallowell, 1861
  • Trimeresurus riukiuanus
    Hilgendorf, 1880
  • T[rimeresurus]. flavoviridis
    Boulenger, 1890
  • Lachesis flavoviridis
    – Boulenger, 1896
  • Trimeresurus flavoviridis tinkhami Gloyd, 1955
  • Trimeresurus flavoviridis flavoviridis Gloyd, 1955


Trimeresurus flavoviridis - National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo - DSC06803
Mounted specimen at the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Japan.

Growing to an average total length of 4–5 feet (120–150 cm), with a maximum of 7.9 feet (240 cm),[7] this is the largest member of its genus. It is slenderly built and gracefully proportioned with a large head. The tail, however, is not prehensile. The crown of the head is covered with small scales. P. flavorviridis has a light olive or brown ground color, overlaid with elongated dark green or brownish blotches. The blotches have yellow edges, sometimes contain yellow spots, and frequently fuse to produce wavy stripes. The belly is whitish with dark coloring along the edges.[5]

Distribution and habitat

P. flavoviridis is restricted to the Japanese Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa and the Amami Islands. The type locality is "Amakarima Island (one of the Loo-Choo group)" (= Keramashima, Ryukyu Islands).[1] It is common on the larger volcanic islands, but not present on the smaller coral islands.[5]

The species is often reported from the transition zone between palm forest and cultivated fields. It may also be found on rock walls and in old tombs and caves.[5]


The species is terrestrial[6] and mostly nocturnal. It often enters homes and other structures in search of rats and mice. Bold and irritable, it can strike quickly and has a long reach.[5]

Unlike most pitvipers, P. flavoviridis is oviparous and lays eggs, rather than bearing live young.[5] Mating takes place in early spring and up to 18 eggs are laid in mid-summer. The hatchlings, which emerge after an incubation period of 5–6 weeks, are 25 centimetres (10 in) in length and look the same as the adults.[6]

To reduce the population of P. flavoviridis on the island of Okinawa, the small Asian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), was introduced in 1910. Although the effects of this introduction have not been studied, in other such cases the negative effects on species of native birds, mammals, and herpetofauna have been a source of concern for wildlife managers.[8]


The incidence of snakebite in the Amami Islands is 2 per 1,000 people, which is considered very high. The venom of this species is of high toxicity, containing cytotoxin and haemorrhagin components,[9] yet the fatality rate is less than 1%.[10] A bite from a habu snake can cause nausea, vomiting, hypotension, and possibly death. There have been cases where victims report the loss of motor function in hands and legs following treatment. [11] If a bite victim receives medical care promptly, bites are not life-threatening. However, 6-8% do suffer permanent disability.[5]

LD50 values of 3.1, 4.3, 3.7, 2.7, 3.7, 3.8 mg/kg IV, 5.1 mg/kg IP and 6.0, 3.5-5.0, 4.5 mg/kg SC have been reported for the venom.[12]


A bottle of "habushu". P. flavoviridis has been subject to overhunting for use in traditional liquor-making.

On the island of Okinawa, this species is heavily collected, primarily for use in habu sake (ハブ酒). In this case, the sake is a liquor called awamori (泡盛), alleged to have medicinal properties. As is typical with snake wine, the snakes may be inserted into the container while still alive, causing them to drown, or the snake may be stunned first and gutted while still alive. The production includes the body in the fermentation process and it is sold in bottles that may or may not retain the body of a snake (or other animals such as lizards or scorpions).[13]

See also

Media related to Protobothrops flavoviridis at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Trimeresurus flavoviridis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  4. ^ Gumprecht A, Tillack F, Orlov NL, Captain A, Ryabov S. 2004. Asian Pitvipers. GeitjeBooks. Berlin. 1st Edition. 368 pp. ISBN 3-937975-00-4.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g U.S. Navy. 1991. Poisonous Snakes of the World. US Govt. New York: Dover Publications Inc. 203 pp. ISBN 0-486-26629-X.
  6. ^ a b c Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-17. Retrieved 2013-02-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Hays, Warren S. T.; Conant, Sheila (2007). "Biology and impacts of Pacific island invasive species. 1. A worldwide review of effects of the small Indian mongoose, Herpestes javanicus (Carnivora: Herpestidae)". Pacific Science. 61 (1): 3–16. doi:10.1353/psc.2007.0006. hdl:10125/22595.
  9. ^ O'Shea, M. (2008). Venomous snakes of the world. New Holland Publishers.
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2013-03-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link). According to this report, 8901 snakebites from this snake are reported during 1964-2011 in Okinawa prefecture(Amami excluded). Among those, fatalities are 53. So, fatality rate is around 0.6%.
  11. ^ "An experimental study of emergency care for habu bites : estimation of amount of venom removed by suction". Ryukyu Medical Association. 5 (3): 196–200. 1982.
  12. ^ Brown, JH (1973). Toxicology and Pharmacology of Venoms from Poisonous Snakes. Springfield, Illinois+publisher=Charles C. Thomas. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.
  13. ^ "Okinawa's potent habu sake packs healthy punch, poisonous snake". Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-07.

Further reading

  • Hallowell, E. 1861. Report upon the Reptilia of the North Pacific Exploring Expedition, under command of Capt. John Rogers, U. S. N. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 12: 480-510. (Bothrops flavoviridis, pp. 492–493.)

External links


Habu (波布) is a Japanese name used to refer to certain venomous snakes:

The following species are found in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan:

Protobothrops elegans, a.k.a. the Sakishima habu, found in the southern Ryukyu Islands

Protobothrops flavoviridis, a.k.a. the Okinawan habu, found in the southern Ryukyu Islands

Protobothrops tokarensis, a.k.a. the Tokara habu, found in the Tokara Islands

Ovophis okinavensis, a.k.a. the Hime habu

Habu is a name also used for several other species:

Trimeresurus gracilis, a.k.a. the Kikushi habu, found in Taiwan.

Protobothrops mucrosquamatus, a.k.a. the Taiwan habu or Chinese habu, found in Southeast Asia.

Ovophis monticola, a.k.a. the Arisan habu, found in Southeast Asia.

Habu is a nickname given to the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird strategic reconnaissance aircraft of the United States Air Force.

List of crotaline species and subspecies

This is a list of all sure genera, species and subspecies of the subfamily Crotalinae, otherwise referred to as crotalines, pit vipers or pitvipers. It follows the taxonomy currently provided by ITIS, which is based on the continuing work of Dr. Roy McDiarmid.

Okinawa habu

Okinawa habu may refer to:

Protobothrops elegans or Trimeresurus elegans, a.k.a. the elegant pitviper or Sakishima habu, a venomous snake found in the southern Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

Protobothrops flavoviridis or Trimeresurus flavoviridis, a.k.a. Habu or Hon habu, a venomous pitviper found in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan

Ovophis okinavensis, a.k.a. the himehabu, a venomous pitviper found in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan


Protobothrops is a genus of pit vipers.

Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Islands (琉球諸島, Ryūkyū-shotō), also known as the Nansei Islands (南西諸島, Nansei-shotō, lit. "Southwest Islands") or the Ryukyu Arc (琉球弧, Ryūkyū-ko), are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan: the Ōsumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima Islands (further divided into the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands), with Yonaguni the westernmost. The larger are mostly high islands and the smaller mostly coral. The largest is Okinawa Island.

The climate of the islands ranges from humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) in the north to tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af) in the south. Precipitation is very high and is affected by the rainy season and typhoons. Except the outlying Daitō Islands, the island chain has two major geologic boundaries, the Tokara Strait (between the Tokara and Amami Islands) and the Kerama Gap (between the Okinawa and Miyako Islands). The islands beyond the Tokara Strait are characterized by their coral reefs.

The Ōsumi and Tokara Islands, the northernmost of the islands, fall under the cultural sphere of the Kyushu region of Japan; the people are ethnically Japanese and speak a variation of the Kagoshima dialect of Japanese. The Amami, Okinawa, Miyako, and Yaeyama Islands have a native population collectively called the Ryukyuan people, named for the former Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled them. The varied Ryukyuan languages are traditionally spoken on these islands, and the major islands have their own distinct languages. In modern times, the Japanese language is the primary language of the islands, with the Okinawan Japanese dialect prevalently spoken. The outlying Daitō Islands were uninhabited until the Meiji period, when their development was started mainly by people from the Izu Islands south of Tokyo, with the people there speaking the Hachijō language.

Administratively, the islands are divided into Kagoshima Prefecture (specifically the islands administered by Kagoshima District, Kumage Subprefecture/District, and Ōshima Subprefecture/District) in the north and Okinawa Prefecture in the south, with the divide between the Amami and Okinawa Islands, with the Daitō Islands part of Okinawa Prefecture. The northern (Kagoshima) islands are collectively called the Satsunan Islands, while the southern part of the chain (Okinawa Prefecture) are called the Ryukyu Islands in Chinese.

Snakes in the genus Trimeresurus


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