The yellow-blotched palm-pitviper belongs to a group of snakes characterised by a pair of heat-sensitive pits, located on each side of the head between the nostril and eye (4). The function of these sensory organs is widely debated, with roles in aiding thermoregulation (5), predation (6) and predator detection (7) hypothesised. The prehensile tail is an evolutionary adaptation to life in the trees; despite this, individuals are frequently encountered in low vegetation and even on the ground (2). The brightly coloured tail of juvenile yellow-blotched palm-pitvipers is a common trait amongst pitvipers (2), and resembles a wiggling invertebrate, which is used to lure potential prey (7). The loss of this bright tail colouration coincides with shifts in diet as the snake grows, from ‘cold-blooded’ prey items (such as lizards, amphibians and large arthropods) to ‘warm-blooded’ mammals (8). The yellow-blotched palm-pitviper is primarily active during the day (2). This is typical of pitviper populations that occur above 1,500 metres, whereas populations occurring below 1,000 metres are usually active at night (2). Like the majority of Neotropical pitvipers, this species gives birth to live young, but there is little information regarding reproductive cycles and litter size (2).
Although members of the genus Bothriechis are venomous, it is considered unusual for bites to result in fatality in humans (2). Bites from the yellow-blotched palm-pitviper, however, have reportedly caused at least one fatality in Guatemala (2). As with all vipers, venom is delivered through a pair of hollow, hinged fangs at the front of the mouth (9).