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Russel's viper
Scientific Name: Daboia russelii

Common Name: Russell's viper, Chain viper, Indian Russell's viper

Size: The average length is 20 cm (4 ft) on the mainland, although island populations do not attain this size,  & it attains a maximum of 166 cm (5.5 ft)

Appearance: The head is flattened, triangular and distinct from the neck. The snout is blunt, rounded and raised. The nostrils are large, in the middle of a large, single nasal scale. The lower edge of the nasal touches the nasorostral. The supranasal has a strong crescent shape and separates the nasal from the nasorostral anteriorly. The rostral is as broad as it is high.


















The crown of the head is covered with irregular, strongly fragmented scales. The supraocular scales are narrow, single, and separated by 6-9 scales across the head. The eyes are large, flecked with yellow or gold, and each is surrounded by 10-15 circumorbital scales. There are 10-12 supralabials, the 4th and 5th of which are significantly larger. The eye is separated from the supralabials by 3-4 rows of suboculars. There are two pairs of chin shields, the front pair of which are notably enlarged. The two maxillary bones support at least two and at the most five or six pairs of fangs at a time: the first are active and the rest replacements. The fangs attain a length of 16 mm in the average specimen.

Venom: Hemotoxic

Behavior: Large individual

Distribution: Asia throughout the Indian subcontinent, much of Southeast Asia, southern China and Taiwan

Habitat: Not a true desert animal, it is found along its edges. Associated with arid savannah, semi-desert, Sahel and well-vegetated dry river beds (wadis) and oases

Diet: Takes a wide variety of prey, including invertebrates (especially scorpions and centipedes), small mammals and reptiles

Fang Facts:
Dhaivat Hathi
It is responsible for more human fatalities than any other venomous snake in India and it is believed that it kills as many people as any other venomous snake in the world !!!
Bite from a Russell's viper is really bad, they have long fangs that are meant to pierce the skin easily and deliver a real bad bite. Antivenom may save the victim, but he will be left with an irreversible tissue damage caused by its extremely powerful hemotoxic venom
Russell's vipers resemble the fat, harmless common sand boas which however have shorter and blunter tails and irregular body patterns. The bright symmetrical spots on Russells Viper's backs make them easy to differentiate
Russell's Viper was formerly reffered to as ' Vipera russelli ', prior to 1990s. Now it is renamed as 'Daboia russelli'. Currently the genus ' Vipera ' is used only for Palaearctic species, mainly found in Europe and Western Asia
Tom Charlton
Webmaster Kartik Sunagar
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