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Montivipera spp., Asian vipers, Mountain vipers

Clinical entries

For clinical data see section “Risk” below

see also "European vipers" of the genus Vipera sp. and Macrovipera spp.


  • 1. Montivipera albizona
  • 2. Montivipera bornmuelleri
  • 3. Montivipera bulgardaghica
  • 4. Montivipera kuhrangica
  • 5. Montivipera latifi
  • 6. Montivipera raddei
  • 7. Montivipera wagneri
  • 8. Montivipera xanthina


The genus Montivipera comprisises several species which were formerly assigned to the genus Vipera sp.


Three subspecies are described for Montivipera raddei:

Montivipera raddei raddei

Montivipera raddei albicornuta

Montivipera raddei kurdistanica


The species Vipera lebetina and Vipera mauritanica, which were previously included in the genus Vipera, are now assigned to the genus Macrovipera or Daboia respectively.


Lenk et al. (2001) suggest assigning the species Vipera mauritanica, Vipera deserti and Vipera palaestinae to Daboia, together with Russell's viper.


Mallow et al. (2003) place Vipera palaestinae alongside Daboia russelli in the genus Daboia.


Serpentes; Viperidae; Viperinae

Common names

  • 1. Central Turkish mountain viper
  • 2. Bornmueller's viper
  • 3. Bulgardagh viper
  • 4. Kuhrang moutain viper
  • 5. Latif's viper
  • 6. Rock viper, Radde's mountain viper
  • 7. Ocellated mountain viper, Wagner's viper
  • 8. Rock viper, Coastal viper, Ottoman viper, Turkish viper, Near East viper


North Africa and Middle East. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.



  Map 50. Montivipera sp. and Macrovipera spp. (distribution area in northwestern Africa only inhabited by Macrovipera lebetina and  the former Vipera mauritanica and Vipera deseri; the latter two now Daboia deserti and Daboia mauitanica)


Subspecies that are not listed in the distribution tables:


-Montivipera raddei raddei: eastern Turkey, Armenia and far northwest Iran

-Montivipera raddei albicornuta: northwestern Iran

-Montivipera raddei kurdistanica: northwest Iran, border region between Iran, Iraq and southeastern Turkey


The species described here are closely related to the "European vipers". Generally larger and stouter than the European vipers, some reach a length of 1 m or more (M. raddei up to just over 1 m, M. xanthina up to 1.2 m). The remaining species, with a length of between 60 and 80 cm, are of a similar size to the European vipers. The head is massive, with a distinctly triangular shape, very distinct from the body, the tip of the snout is rounded.

The basic colouring ranges from various shades of grey to yellowish, ochre, light or dark brown and red. As for the European vipers, the dorsal markings consist of a dark zig-zag or wavy band (in M. raddei a light zig-zag band on a dark background, M. bulgardaghica has a rectangular zig-zag band). In some species, this band may break up into round blotches (M. wagneri has brown-orange blotches with a black border). M. latifi sometimes only has a thin line.

Prefer dry, stony habitats. In mountain steppes or rocky mountain regions, M. raddei are found from 1,100–2,500 m, M. latifi from 2,200–2,900 m, M. wagneri between 1,600 und 1,900 m. M. bornmuelleri in hill pastures and cedar forests from 1,600–2,000 m, M. xanthina in stony regions with sturdy vegetation from sea level to 2,500 m. 


There are only scarce epidemiological and clinical data from Montivipera in the Middle East and North Africa. The most information exists for V. palaestinae (now Daboia palaestinae).  The largest species in this group, M. xanthina, may be expected to be similar in regard of available venom quantities as Daboia palaestinae, which has been shown to possess extremely large amounts of venom (see Risk: Daboia palaestinae)


Literature (biological)

Brodmann 1987, Disi 1990, Gasperetti 1988, Gruber 1989, Joger 1984, Khan 1990, Latifi 1991, Lenk et al. 2001, Mallow et al. 2003, Mendelsohn 1963, Minton 1992 and 1966, Nilson et al. 1988, Quijada-Mascarenas and Wüster 2009, Stümpel and Joger 2009, Rajabizadeh et al. 2011, Tiedemann et al.1984, Wallach 2014

The Reptile Database