When we camp in rainforests or even country side forest, we are supposed to be very careful about Reptiles, especially Snakes. In India out of the many venomous snakes, I have found Pit Vipers to be very common.
That is why I have always considered the possible threats while choosing a campsite.
But at Higher altitudes, like the Himalayas I do not have any information regarding their habitats. If I google it, I may get the information that I need. But, as far as I know and what I have learnt about Vipers, is, they have an organ called Jacobson's Organ which makes them to sense the heat signatures.

In regions around Mt. Everest (where I will be going), in Sagarmatha National Park, they have this Himalayan Pit Viper. I have confirmed that from a friend who is a Herpetologist and has worked in that region but never have had a chance to study the Himalayan Pit Viper.

For my question, this himalayan pit viper is just an example in case of Himalays, there can be many other species than Pit Vipers. I chose to ask w.r.t this because it is commonly found there. In other parts of the world, I believe there are Venomous Snakes, for that matter this question can also be taken as part where it generally snows!

My question is: If it is true about Pit Vipers being able to trace the heat signatures, does camping in the areas where it snows unsafe? Because, when it snows, it's obviously cold, and so is our body temperature. Yet, will one such reptile be able to trace the heat signature?

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    Reptiles are cold-blooded. They're not going to be active on or near the snow. Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 5:42
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    @DonBranson: In India, the Himalayan Pit Viper is found throughout the western Himalayas, in the states of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, northern Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Records from Sikkim need confirmation. Outside India, it is found in Pakistan and central Nepal. Records from eastern Afghanistan and Bangladesh need confirmation. Though the species are usually restricted to an elevation of 1500 m, reports exist from Dharmsala Glacier at 4877 m elevation.
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 6:04
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    @DonBranson: Will This be an exception to what you are claiming?
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 6:10
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    @Unsung: I agree, but there are reports of finding Himalayan Pit Viper even beyond Namache Bazar, Nepal. There is vegetation, no doubt. But the region really isn't at foothills of Himalaya either.
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 6:19
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    @WedaPashi My point exactly. You cannot judge a snake's survival by altitude(although the highest known venomous snake is himalayan pit viper at 4700m). It is mostly fueled by the food that can sustain it. Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 6:22

1 Answer 1


The key to survival of any species in any part of the world is having a sustainable source of food. This applies to snakes as well.

For snakes, humans are not food. For them, rats, lizards, scorpions, frogs etc act as food. When you specifically talk of snow covered areas, it is impossible for a snake to live. Or any cold blooded animal for that matter.

I know for a fact that snakes are found in the Himalayan region. Some of them are: Kraits, Naja najas, Pit vipers etc. All of these are found in regions having vegetation (thereby providing a source of food).

Hence, if you are camping in snowy areas, you need not be worried about the snakes. But I would suggest that you take precautions while camping in areas like Leh/Ladakh. These areas do have snakes, although the density is much lesser than what you would find in the Kumaon/Gharwal regions.

General rule of thumb is, mountains with good amount of vegetation or foothills of mountains with vegetation can have snakes. Mountains covered with snow cannot have a sustainable population of snakes.

Hope this helps!

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