Saw-scaled vipers are poisonous vipers found in parts of Asia, mainly in the Indian subcontinent. They are the smallest of the “Big Four” dangerous snakes in India, along with the Russell’s viper, the Indian cobra, and the common krait. These vipers are known to cause a majority of the snakebite deaths in the world, killing 4000 to 5000 people in India annually. It produces a loud and raspy warning sound to ward off threats by rubbing parts of their body together.
- Species:Echis carinatus
It has five subspecies:
- Astola Saw-scaled Viper (E. c. astolae)
- Multiscale Saw-scaled Viper (E. c. multisquamatus)
- Sochurek’s Saw-scaled Viper (E. c. sochureki)
- South Indian Saw-scaled Viper (E. c. carinatus)
- Sri Lankan Saw-scaled Viper (E. c. sinhaleyus)
They have an average length of 12 – 35 inches (30 – 90 cm).
Color and Appearance
These are greyish, reddish, pale buff, olive, or pale brown ground-colored vipers. A whitish trident pattern sits on the top of their head, and a light strip connects the eye with the angle of the jaw. They have a whitish to pinkish belly, either uniform or adorned with light or distinct brown dots.
Are They Dangerous to Humans
Saw-scaled vipers are venomous snakes containing four types of toxins – cardiotoxins, neurotoxins, hemotoxins, and cytotoxins. Their venom toxicity varies based on location, specimen, milking, sex, and injection method. The intravenous LD50 value in mice ranges from 2.3 mg/kg to 24.1 mg/kg to 0.44-0.48 mg/kg. The venom of the females is more toxic than that of males.
Local symptoms of their bites are swelling and pain, which can extend to the entire limb between 12 to 24 hours. Blisters may appear on the skin in extreme cases. Other dangerous systematic symptoms are coagulation defects and hemorrhages.
Saw Scaled Vipers at a Glance
Saw-scaled vipers are primarily found in the Indian subcontinent. They are also found in other parts of the Middle East and Central Asia.
They live in dry and moist deciduous forests, rainforests, grasslands, scrublands, deserts, and semi-deserts. They also inhabit agricultural fields, rocky terrain, scrubs, and open plains. Their preferred hiding places are under loose rocks, in mounds, piles, leaf litter, and caves.
The average lifespan of these vipers is 12 years in the wild.
Birds of prey and mongooses are their natural predators.
Saw-scaled vipers feed on rodents, frogs, lizards, and different arthropods such as centipedes, scorpions, and large insects.
The mating season of these vipers is mainly in winter. Females give birth to 3 to 15 young ones in one litter.
globalnaturefoundation.org, cff2.earth.com, rahulalvares.com, t3.ftcdn.net, wikimedia.org, indiabiodiversity.org, inaturalist.ca