Red-tailed vipers have appeared in large quantities with unknown causes and bitten over 1,000 people in various localities in Vietnam so far this year, local authorities reported.
There are no immediate reports of mortality by far, as all the victims received treatment timely.
These venomous snakes, with scientific name trimeresurus albolabris, have attacked people in many central provinces, including Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Quang Nam, and Quang Ngai, and a number of provinces in the south, including Tien Giang, Vinh Long, Can Tho and Hau Giang.
In March 2014, many people in Can Tho City and Vinh Long Province in the Mekong Delta found the vipers in some residential areas.
During the first 10 months of 2014, 886 people have been bitten in the southern province of Tien Giang. Last month, people in Khanh Son commune, Nam Dan District, Nghe An province began to worry after seeing the vipers appear in residential areas.
Since early October until now, 135 people in Quang Ngai have also been bitten by the viper.
Earlier in mid-2014, people in Da Nang’s Son Tra and Lien Chieu Districts also reported that they saw a lot of red-tailed snakes in residential areas. Many vipers even entered houses of locals.
A lot of people in various provinces were hospitalized after being bitten by the vipers.
Dr. Le Nguyen Nhat, from the Hanoi Teachers’ Training University, said the red-tailed viper has a small triangular head, a small neck and a short body.
The viper usually lives on trees and comes out mainly at night. Its common food includes small animals such as birds, frogs and toads.
“Red-tailed vipers do not actively attack people,” Dr. Nhat said.
However, when being touched by anyone, the snake will bite them and secrete its toxic venom into the bitten people, he said.
It is probably because this year is a leap one, with a long hot season, so the breeding season of this type of viper is prolonged, too, Dr. Nhat said.
This may be the reason for the mass quantity of the viper in many provinces in recent times.
Usually, the breeding season of the viper starts in April or May and ends in October, Dr. Nhat said.
Unlike a number of other snake species, red-tailed vipers do not lay eggs, but give birth to live young, with 4 to10 offsprings in one birth, said Dr. Nguyen Quang Truong.
Even after the venomous snakes have died, they can still be dangerous, said Dr. Nguyen Quang Truong.
“They can secrete deadly venom within 90 minutes after they have died,” he said.
If someone is bitten by a snake, try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite, experts said.
Keep the bitten person still and calm, as this can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is poisonous, and take the victim to a hospital as quickly as possible, they said.