We studied factors influencing habitat selection by two arboreal species of pit viper, namely Trimeresurus malabaricus (Malabar pit viper) and T. gramineus (Bamboo pit viper). The macrohabitat of these species was classified as forest, forest edge, or open habitat. To determine microhabitat selection, a variety of features at every other snake location were measured. Whether or not the animal was found in a tree, the tree species, its height of perch, position on the branch (distal/ apical/middle), diameter of the branch, the tree canopy (thick/sparse) and vegetation of the area (thick/sparse) were recorded. Assessment of habitat was done to determine how patterns of habitat use vary seasonally. Shaded ambient (air) temperatures and humidity were recorded. Data pertaining to 90 individuals of T. malabaricus and 100 individuals of T. gramineus were recorded. Trimeresurus malabaricus selected home ranges that included areas with thick vegetation and were encountered at regions of higher altitude. Neither of the species was found in open habitats. Both of the species preferred diverse habitats and were spread over the entire available space during the monsoon; they did not show any preference for the perch height during different seasons. Males had a positive correlation between body mass and preferred perch diameter. The present study suggests that several factors play an important role in habitat selection by these arboreal pit vipers, thus making them highly habitat-specific.
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Vol. 30 • No. 1