The snake species discovered by a Vietnamese scientist

VietNamNet Bridge – Dr Nguyen Thien Tao has discovered more than 40 amphibians and reptilian species, including the Trung Khanh viper.


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The Trung Khanh viper, protobothrops trungkhanhensis, was found at the Trung Khanh Natural Reserve in the northern province of Cao Bang. The discovery was published in a Russian journal on amphibians and reptiles in 2009. 

This was the fourth protobothrops species discovered in Vietnam, after protobothrops cornutus, protobothrops jerdonii and protobothrops mucrosquamatus.

Trung Khanh viper is 733 mm long, smaller than other species of snakes. They live at the height of 500-700 meters in evergreen and deciduous monsoon limestone tropical forests. 

Trung Khanh viper is 733 mm long, smaller than other species of snakes. They live at the height of 500-700 meters in evergreen and deciduous monsoon limestone tropical forests. 

Tao said he could not say if Trung Khanh viper is an endemic species of Vietnam. However, Vietnam remains the only place where the species can be found.

Tao said his research team is about to announce the discovery of several new species. 

To gain these achievements, Tao said he spent a lot of time on field trips. “I go to the forest 5-6 months every year, from the end of spring to the end of autumn, the reproductive season of amphibians and replies,” he said, adding that he can travel free of charge. 

He has to work at night when amphibians and reptiles seek food. If he can take samples, he will write articles on his discoveries. If not, the trips are in vain.

Tao said he twice escaped death because of snakebites. However, this did not affect his love for snakes. 

Showing a small scar on his hand near his thumb, he said he got a bite when he was on a field trip in Lao Cai province.  “It was lucky that I could pull the snake out. I lost a piece of my skin and I had to squeeze the contaminated blood out,” he recalled. 

The second accident occurred when he was bathing a krait at the museum’s laboratory. The snake bit him but once again, he escaped death.

Tao said he studies snakes because he wants to understand their poisoning mechanism. The knowledge has helped him save the lives of many young people. 

For the last 10 years, Tao has been providing free consultancy to the Poison Control Center on how to handle snakebites.

Tao’s research team has found over 200 snake species in Vietnam, 25 percent of which are poisonous. About 30,000 people get snakebites every year.


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Mai Chi

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