What does Mamushi mean?

The Mamushi or Western Mamushi (Gloydius blomhoffii) is a venomous pitviper snake species found in Japan, China, and Korea. The asserts that these snakes also occur in the Ryukyu Islands remain unconfirmed.

It’s considered the most common snake in Japan and also one of the very dangerous to humans. There are 4 subspecies generally recognized by scientists (see subspecies below).

The mamushi is located in a variety of habitats such as open woodland, meadows, swamps, marshes, rocky hillsides, and montane rock outcroppings. These snakes are known by some other name for example dirt snake or Western pit viper, Qichun snake, Japanese moccasin or soil viper in China and Salmusa or Salmosa from Korea.

Adult mamushi snakes typically reach a span of approximately 12 to 25 inches (28 to 68 cm) using the maximum specimen ever recorded reaching an astonishing 36 inches (91 cm). They have a body having a tapering tail.

Their coloration consists of a reddish-brown, light grey, or yellow-brown background covered with a number of irregularly-shaped darker blotches on the sides and back. All these blotches have a lighter centre and often black borders.

Like many pit vipers their head distinctively triangular coated in a dark brown almost black color, with all the faces of the mind becoming pale-gray or beige. Mamushi eyes so are medium sized and have elliptical students. Their scales are keeled. The mamushi has a bottom covered with long stripes.

The Japanese mamushi is virtually identical in appearance to the American cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) as well as the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and for a long time, it was classified in the identical taxonomic class the Agkistrodon genus.

What is the most venomous snake in Japan?

The mamushi is a venomous snake and its venom is chiefly comprised of haemolytic radicals but additionally, it contains some neurotoxins and anticoagulants.

Their venom as a component quite like that of the beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum) a close relative of the gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) found in North America.

mamushi snake

Collectively with the Okinawan habu and the mamushi are regarded as the most poisonous and dangerous snakes found in Japan. Their venom potency and effects varies very little geographically using an intraperitoneal LD50 value in mice that range from 0.3 mg/kg into 1.22 mg/kg.

The Mamushi bites around two to three thousand people every year in Japan alone, with the most intense bites requiring intensive maintenance. Despite the fact that their bite isn’t usually fatal on average bite victims perish each year.

The mamushi venom leads to the victims cells to liquify, sometimes resulting in skin necrosis. Fingers and toes are the body parts with acute swelling causing the compression of blood vessels.

Some accounts also accounts for renal failure, muscle illness, palsy, peripheral neuropathy, visual disturbances, disseminated intravascular coagulation and hemolysis and maybe even miscarriage in pregnant women.

Powerful antivenoms are made in both Japan and China, together with therapy protocol usually consisting on comfort incisions and the injection of the mamushi antivenom.

Normally sting victims require approximately a week of hospitalization, followed by a second four weeks of out-patient treatment, even though a complete recovery may take several weeks.


The mamushi feeds mainly on small mammals like rodents, frogs, and small creatures but also lizards and insects.

​These venomous pit vipers are predators searching by day as well as at night, with their normal camouflage to hide in the foliage litter or vegetation.

They have heat sensitive pits which allow them to locate their warm-blooded prey in the darkness. Even the mamushi farmland, due to the number of rodents and is often located in and about farms.

They kill their prey by injecting them with their powerful venom by means of a pair of hypodermic needle like fangs.


The mamushi is a viviparous species, meaning they’re live-bearing snakes giving birth to live young, contrary to other snakes which lay eggs. The females have sperm storage pockets so that they are effective at producing young as much as 3 years after copulation occurs.

Mamushi females will sometimes skip reproduction for 1 or more years. Gravid females come together at gestation sites in the summer and autumn also give birth to 2 to 13 younglings at August and October.

The average litter is about 6 or 7 neonates, but the longer the feminine larger the litter and the more the neonates will probably soon likely be. While females attain sexual maturity at 40 to 45 cm in length males become mature at a body length of approximately 40 cm and approximately 3 years old.


The mamushi is not recorded in the IUCN red list. However, in recent decades thousands have been exported into Japan from China to use medicine and whiskey making.


The species specific name, blomhoffii, was given in honour of the manager of the Dutch trading colony at Nagasaki, Japan from 1817 to 1824, Jan C. Blomhoff.
All these are the four recognized subspecies for the Mamushi snake.

Japanese mamushi (Gloydius blomhoffii blomhoffii – H. Boie, 1826) – Located in Japan, this comprises the majority of the bigger islands.

Short-tailed mamushi (Gloydius blomhoffii brevicaudus – Stejneger, 1907) – Found in the Korean Peninsula and Northeastern China.

Tung Ling mamushi (Gloydius blomhoffii dubitatus – Gloyd, 1977) – It’s located only in a limited place the Hebei Province, China.

Yangtze mamushi (Gloydius blomhoffii Sinaiticus – Gloyd, 1977) – Found only in China in Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu provinces, south to eastern Sichuan and the Ch’ang Chiang Basin, Hunan, and Jiangxi.

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