Asian Vine Snake – Everything You Need To Know

The Asian Vine Snake is a species of Colubrid snake that is native to Southern Asia where it can be found in countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.

These snakes are known by a number of different common names and are becoming popular in the pet trade. Some of its common names include the Boie’s Whip Snake, the Gunter’s Whip Snake and the Oriental Whip Snake.

Asian Vine Snake - Ahaetulla prasina
Bernard Dupont, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Asian Vine Snake Taxonomy

In the Animal Kingdom, Taxonomy is used as the science and practice of classifying different species and sub-species based on their biological and genetic makeup.


The Asian Vine Snake belongs to the Colubridae or Colubrid family of snakes. This is the largest family of Snakes in the world consisting of many popular species such as Corn Snakes and Milk Snakes.

With around 250 different genera of Colubrids, these snakes can be found on every continent except Antarctica which also makes them the most widely distributed family of snake in the world.

The vast majority of Colubrid snakes are non-venomous, or at least contain a venom that isn’t considered to be medically significant to humans.

However, there are a number of species of Colubrid snakes that contain venom capable of killing humans. This includes species from the Boiga and Rhabdophis genera as well as other snakes such as the Boomslang.


The Genus that the Asian Vine Snake belongs to is called Ahaetulla. This is a genus that contains 18 different species of Vine Snakes. Some of the other species include the Indian Vine Snake and the Burmese Vine Snake.

The Ahaetulla genus isn’t as well studied as many other genera of snakes so the exact makeup of the genus changes frequently. The makeup of the genus can vary depending on what literature you read.

It is believed that most, if not all species of Vine Snake in this genus contain venom. However, these colubrid snakes don’t have a true venom gland or an efficient venom delivery system to inject their venom.

The green-colored Vine Snakes in this genus are often referred to as ‘Green Vine Snakes’. However, they are different from the true ‘Green Vine Snake‘ (Oxybelis fulgidus), which is found in Central and South America and belongs to a completely different genus.


The scientific name for the Asian Vine Snake or Oriental Whip Snake is Ahaetulla prasina. There are currently 4 recognised subspecies including the nominate species.

Asian Vine Snake
Rushen, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Asian Vine Snake Description

The Asian Vine Snake is a large species of Vine Snake that can grow to lengths of up to 6 feet. They have very long tails which can reach almost 2 feet in length.

They have a relatively flat, triangular shaped head. Their snout is very long and pointed which helps to emphasise this triangular shape. Their eyes are positioned on the side of their head, around half way back.

They have a very slender body which is typical of Vine Snakes. This slender body helps them climb trees and allows them to manoeuvre along small branches without being too heavy for them.

They are green in color with a yellow white or cream colored belly. They often have small white and black markings along their dorsal. Different color forms are available and these are often produced in captivity.

The Asian Vine Snake or Oriental Whip Snake is very similar in appearance to the Green Vine Snake of South America (Oxybelis fulgidus), even though they don’t even belong to the same genus.

This snake is rear-fanged venomous. This means that the fangs are located in the back of their mouth as opposed to the front, making it more difficult to inject venom. The venom isn’t considered medically significant to humans.

Natural Habitat and Distribution

The Asian Vine Snake is native to a large part of Southern and South-East Asia. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats which helps to keep their population levels healthy in most regions.

On the mainland, they can be found in countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Southern China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. They can also be found in Malaysia and Singapore.

Their range also extends down into many of the islands of Indonesia while they can also be found as far East as parts of the Philippines.

They share much of their geographical range with species such as the Blood Python, Cobalt Blue Tarantula and the Dragon Snake, although it has its own unique habitat.

The Asian Vine Snake can be found in a wide range of habitats. You can find them in Scrublands or Woodlands or in moist Lowland Forests. They can be found in a wide variety of other forests such as Montane Forests, Dry Forests and even Monsoon Forests.

They have also adapted well to human habitation and can be found on Cultivated Lands as well as in Cities, Parks and Gardens. They can live anywhere from sea level up to about 1,300 meters in elevation.

Diet and Predators

In the wild, the Asian Vine Snake will feed on a variety of different prey. Their primary food sources consist of birds, frogs, lizards and smaller snakes. Lizards and tree frogs seem to make up a large portion of their diet.

The Oriental Whip Snake will use its venom to stun or immobilize its prey before eating it. In order to inject venom though, this rear fanged snake needs to chew on its prey.

This snake is not on the top of the food chain though and is preyed on my other animals. Birds of prey and larger snakes will eat them. This is mainly the case for babies and juveniles but adults are not completely off the menu either.

Asian Vine Snake Conservation

The Asian Vine Snake is not considered a threatened species and their populations are healthy throughout much of their range. However, in some area’s populations are beginning to decline.

In places such as Vietnam and China, these snakes are harvested to make snake wine and traditional medicine. Specimens are also exported for the pet trade.