Venomous Snakes of Sri Lanka




Highly venomous land snakes

Family Viperidae

Genus Daboiai (Gray, 1842)
Daboia russelli russelli (Shaw & Nodden 1797)
English: Russell's viper; Sinhala: Tith Polonga, Tamil: Kanardi viriyan

Genus Echis (Merrem, 1820)
Echis carinatus carinatus (Shneider, 1801)
English: The saw scaled viper, Sinhala: Vali polonga, Tamil: Surattai pambu

Family Elapidae

Genus Bungarus (Daudin, 1803)
Bungarus caeruleus (Schneider, 1801)
English: The common krait, Sinhala: Thel karawala, Tamil: Yettadi viriyan

B.ceylonicus ceylonicus (Günther, 1864)
English: Sri Lanka = (Ceylon) krait, Sinhala: Madu karawala, Tamil: Yettadi viriyan

B.ceylonicus karavala (Deraniyagala, 1955)
English: Sri Lanka = (Ceylon) krait, Sinhala: Hath karawala

Genus Naja (Laurenti, 1768)
Naja naja (Linnaeus, 1758)
English: Indian cobra, Sinhala: Naya, Tamil: Nagapambu

Family Crotalidae

Genus Hypnale (Fitzinger, 1843)
Hypnale hypnale (Merrem, 1829)
Englsih: Merrem's hump-nosed viper, Sinhala: Polonthelissa or Kunakatuwa, Tamil: Kopi viriyan

Highly venomous snakes could inflict fatal bites. Hump nosed viper was regarded as less venomous in the past. But current evidence suggests that envenoming due to hump-nosed viper bite could cause severe systemic envenoming resulting in death. Ceylon krait and saw-scaled viper bites are rare and there are no recorded reports of coral snake bites.

Moderately venomous land snakes

Family Crotalidae

Genus Trimeresurus (Lacépède, 1804)
Trimeresurus trigonocephalus (Sonnini & Latreille, 1801)
English: Green pit viper, Sinhala: Pala polonga, Tamil: Pachai virian

Genus Hypnale (Fitzinger, 1843)
H.nepa (Laurenti, 1768)
English: Millard's hump-nosed viper, Sinhala: Mukalan thelissa

H.walli (Gloyd, 1977)
English: Gloyd's Hump-nosed viper, Sinhala: Kuda mukalan thelissa

Green pit viper bites commonly produce severe local reaction and reversible renal dysfunction occasionally. However, there are no human fatalities.

Mildly venomous land snakes

Family Colubridae

Genus Boiga (Fitzinger, 1826)
Boiga forsteni (Duméril, Bibron, & Duméril, 1854)
Englsih: Forsten’s cat snake. Sinhala: Naga mapila, Tamil: Chingihahu


There was an authenticated report that Forsten’s cat snake has killed a dog but human deaths have not been reported. The Genus Boiga has back fangs.

Boiga barnesii (Günther, 1869). English: Barnes's cat snake, Sinhala: Panduru mapila
B. beddomei (Wall, 1909) English: Beddoms cat snake
B. ceylonensis (Günther, 1858). English: Sri Lanka cat snake Sinhala: Nidi mapila
B. trigonatus trigonatus (Schneider, 1802); English: Gamma cat snake, Sinhala: Ran mapila
Genus Ahaetulla (Link, 1807)
Ahaetulla nasutus (Lacépède 1758)
English: Green vine snake, Sinhala: Ahaetulla
A. pulverulentus (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854)
English: Brown vine snake, Sinhala: Henakandaya

Genus Balanophis (Smith, 1938)
Balanophis ceylonensis (Günther, 1858).
English: Sri Lanka keelback, Sinhala: Nihaluwa,

Genus Cerberus (Cuvier, 1829)
Cerberus rynchops rynchops (Schneider, 1799)
English: Dog-faced water snake, Sinhala: Kunudiya kaluwa or diyabariya

Genus Chrysopelea (Boie, 1826)
Chrysopelea ornata sinhaleya (Deraniyagala, 1945)
English: Ornate flying snake, Sinhala: Malsara
C. taprobanica (Smith, 1943); Sinhala: Dangara danda Endemic

Genus Gerardia (Gray, 1849)
Gerardia prevostianus (Eydoux & Gervais, 1837)
English: Gerard's water snake

Venomous sea snakes

Family Hydrophiidae

Genus Astrotia (Fischer, 1856)
Astrotia stokesii (Gray, 1846); English: Stoke's sea snake, Sinhala: Maha valakkadiya

Genus Enhydrina (Gray, 1849)
Enhydrina schistosus (Daudin, 1803); English: Hook-nosed sea snake; Sinhala: Valakkadiya

Genus Hydrophis (Latreille, 1802)
Hydrophis bituberculatus (Peters, 1872); English: Peter;s sea snake,
Hydrophis lapemoides (Gray, 1849);
H. ornatus ornatus (Gray, 1842); English: Gray's sea snake, Sinhala: Muhudu naya
H. stricticollis (Guenther, 1864); English: Guenther's sea snake

Genus Kerilia (Gray, 1849)
Kerilia jerdoni jerdoni (Gray, 1849); English: Jerdon's sea snake, Sinhala: Muhudu naya

Genus Lapemis (Gray, 1835)
Lapemis curtus (Shaw, 1802); English: Shaw's sea snake

Genus Leioselasma (Latreille, 1802)
Leioselasma cyanocinctus (Daudin, 1803); English: the chittul,

Leiocephalus spiralis (Shaw, 1802); English: the narrow banded sea snake, Sinhala: Mudhu naya

Genus Microcephalophis (Lesson, 1834)
Microcephalophis gracilis (Shaw, 1802); English: John's sea snake, Sinhala: Mudu naya

Genus Pelamis (Daudin, 1803)
Pelamis platurus (Linnaeus, 1766); English: Yellow bellied sea snake, Sinhala: Badakaha muhudu naya

Genus Praescutata (Wall, 1921)
Praescutata viperinus (Schmidt, 1852); English: Schmidt's sea snake

Sea snakes are highly venomous and inhabit the costal waters of Sri Lanka. They bite only under extreme provocation and rarely severe envenoming may occur. Fishermen are at risk while removing the trapped sea snakes from their fishing nets. However, the fishermen know how to seek and free the sea snakes from their nets safely without getting bitten. Sea snake bites are rare and envenoming produce myotoxicity and neurotoxicity. There is no specific antivenom available in Sri Lanka, but successful management using Indian polyvalent antivenom serum is known (personal communication with the Consultant Physician, B
atticaloa Hospital).

Sri Lankan Snakes TOC