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Genus/Species

 

Macrovipera spp., Large palearctic vipers

Clinical entries

For clinical data see section “Risk” below

formerly Vipera sp.

Species

  • 1. Macrovipera lebetina
  • 2. Macrovipera razii
  • 3. Macrovipera schweizeri

 

Five subspecies are described for Macrovipera lebetina (Mallow et al. 2003, Stümpel and Joger 2009):

-Macrovipera lebetina lebetina

-Macrovipera lebetina cernovi
-Macrovipera lebetina obtusa

-Macrovipera lebetina transmediterranea

-Macrovipera lebetina turanica


Macrovipera deserti was previously considered a subspecies of Vipera mauritanica

Macrovipera schweizeri was previously considered a subspecies of Vipera lebetina.

 

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

Taxonomy

Serpentes; Viperidae; Viperinae

Common names

  • 1. Blunt-nosed viper
  • 2. Razi's viper
  • 3. Milos viper

Distribution

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

 

Distribution areas of the species that are not listed in the Distribution tables:

-Macrovipera lebetina lebetina: Southern Turkey, Cyprus, northern Iraq, northwestern Syria

-Macrovipera lebetina cernovi: northeast Iran, northern Afghanistan, southern Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kygyzstan, Pakistan, northern India (Kashmir),

-Macrovipera lebetina obtusa: extinct in Israel, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, northern Jordan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan, southern Afghanistan, Pakistan,

-Macrovipera lebetina transmediterranea: northern Algeria, northern Tunisia

-Macrovipera lebetina turanica: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kygyzstan

 

 

  Map 50 Macrovipera spp. and Montivipera spp.

 

Biology

The species described here are closely related to the genus Montivipera (Asian vipers). Large and sturdy species. M. lebetina obtusa up to more than 1.6 m. The head is massive, with a distinctly triangular shape, very distinct from the body, tip of the snout is rounded.

 

M. lebetina and M. schweizeri in shades of grey or brown, with rectangles or a rectangular zig-zag pattern along the body; sometimes the markings are barely visible. M. razii with dark ground color with a lighter, orange zigzag pattern.

Prefer dry, stony habitats. M. lebetina also found in meadows, fields or gardens; in Pakistan up to an altitude of 2,100 m, in Turkey up to 1,500 m. M. razii found in altitudes up to 3000 m and more in harsh mountain habitats.

When in danger they hiss and coil their body into a taut S-shape.

Risk

The genus Macrovipera contains large snakes that are responsible for a number of bites in western Asia and North Africa each year (Mallow and Nilson 2003). The members of this genus can be ill-tempered and dangerous. Bites are painful and a great deal of venom can be injected.

Allon and Kochva (1974) demonstrated that Palestine vipers (Daboia palaestinae) possess extremely large amounts of venom. In large specimens, 500 to over 1,000 mg of venom may be contained in their venom glands. On average, a bite from these snakes delivers the considerable quantity of around 50 mg. M. lebetina may be expected to be similar in this regard.

 

Literature (biological)

Brodmann 1987, Disi 1990, Gasperetti 1988, Gruber 1989, Hermann et al. 1992, Joger 1984, Khan 1990, Latifi 1991, Lenk et al. 2001, Mallow et al. 2003, Mendelsohn 1963, Minton 1992, 1966, Moradi et al. 2014, Oraie et al. 2018, Stümpel and Joger 2009, Tiedemann et al. 1984, Wallach 2014

The Reptile Database