Introduction to Genus Ahaetulla in Sri Lanka

Ahaetulla nasuta | Chamod Gunathilake
Genus Ahaetulla is  commonly known as Vine Snakes and classified under Family Colubridae. There are 11 different species in the world;
  • Ahaetulla anomala ANNANDALE, 1906
  • Ahaetulla dispar (GÜNTHER, 1864)
  • Ahaetulla fasciolata (FISCHER, 1885)
  • Ahaetulla fronticincta (GÜNTHER, 1858)
  • Ahaetulla laudankia DEEPAK, NARAYANAN, SARKAR, DUTTA & MOHAPATRA, 2019
  • Ahaetulla mycterizans (LINNAEUS, 1758)
  • Ahaetulla nasuta LACÉPÈDE, 1789
  • Ahaetulla perroteti (DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL, 1854)
  • Ahaetulla prasina (BOIE, 1827)
  • Ahaetulla pulverulenta (DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL, 1854)
and Sri Lanka is home for 2 of them.
  1. Ahaetulla nasuta LACÉPÈDE, 1789
  2. Ahaetulla pulverulenta (DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL, 1854)

They are Distributed over South and South-east Asia. (Ahaetulla prasina had been recorded from China also). All are mildly venomous and arboreal snakes. Usually feed on frogs, small lizards, geckos, and other small snakes. They are well-camouflaged because most of them are green or brown in colour.

Vine Snakes have an oblong head and relatively larger eyes with horizontal pupils. They provide them an excellent, wide field of view. All Ahaetulla species are diurnal.

Fig 1. Horizontal Pupil of Ahaetulla nasuta | Chamod Gunathilake©

(Ahaetulla nasuta) Green Vine Snake

Fig 2. Ahaetulla nasuta | Yesitha Rodrigo©                      

The Green Vine Snake is a diurnal species seen commonly though out the island. Dorsally bright to dull green with black and white marks hidden between their scales with a long tail and slender body to navigate easily through branches or trees and bushes which spend most of their arboreal lifestyle on.

Feeding on geckos, lizards, insects, frogs, birds and small mammals. Juveniles are known to feed on fish on shallow waterways on the Forest floor.

These snakes are Rear fanged. like many other Rear fanged species they to possess a slight Venom which helps them to paralyze and kill their pray easily. This Venom has no harm to humans and the worst case in a bit may cause slight pain itchiness and slight swelling.

When threatened they tent to inflates their bodies and puffs themselves and shows the black and white marks between their scales while wildly opening their mouths and striking. Some individuals stick their tongues out without opening their mouths.

They are an Ovoviviparous species that give birth to live young between 5-20  young ones in a Clutch. newborns are on average about 20 centimetres in length. Fully grown specimens reach lengths of over 6feet

the “ahatulla” Green vine snake is one of the species that has one of the most popular myths on snakes in Sri Lanka. People believe these snakes strike to humans eyes and pluck them out and feed on them. they are also locally called “Asugula” witch simply translated to eye plucker.


Fig 3. Ahaetulla nasuta | Chamod Gunathilake©



Ahaetulla pulverulenta (Brown Vine Snake)

Fig 4. Ahaetulla pulverulenta | Yesitha Rodrigo©

Locally known as “Henakandaya” the Brown Vine Snake is a species that is similar to the green wine snake we know so well.  Also, a diurnal species commonly seen in the Dry zones yet they can be found in the wet and intermediate zones as well. This species also and rear-fanged species they also like green vine snake has slightly venom their venom isn’t deadly to humans. This venom can only help paralyze their prey. which are geckos, lizards, birds, small mammals.

These snakes are an Ovoviviparous species. which means they give birth to live young have a good.

When threatned they tent do inflate their body and arches their necks and wildly opens their mouth and strikes a behaviour also seen in (Ahatulla nasuta)





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