Daboia russelii Shaw and Nodder, 1797, India (Coromandel Coast). Two subspecies are recognized.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Chain viper; French: Vipère de Russel; German: Kettenviper.
This species is characterized by a pattern of three longitudinal rows of reddish brown, black-edged, oval or circular spots on a mostly brownish yellow or brownish gray ground color.
Russel's viper occurs in Southeast Asia, from India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to Taiwan in the east and Java, Komodos, and Flores in the south. The distribution is not continuous within this large area.
The species prefers plains, savannas, or hills, and it is encountered regularly in agricultural areas.
It is mainly a nocturnal snake; if encountered during the daytime, it is rather sluggish and, unless attacked, is not aggressive.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
It mainly preys on rodents but also takes frogs, birds, and lizards.
This large ovoviviparous species can give birth to 20-63 live young in each clutch.
This species is not listed by the IUCN. However, some populations of Russel's viper are endangered, primarily because of collection for leather production or as food. The Indian populations are listed in Appendix III of CITES.
Russel's viper is the most dangerous viper in Southeast Asia and is of great medical importance. This species is responsible for a majority of cases of snakebite injury and death within its range, especially in densely populated areas of the Indian subcontinent. In Sri Lanka and Burma (Myanmar), approximately 2,000 bites and 900 deaths per year are attributed to Russel's viper. ♦
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