Russell's or Chain Viper
snake is deadly poisonous. The venom of this snake
can deliver 2 to 3 times the lethal venom dose and
causes most of the snakebite fatalities in the
areas where it occurs|
Viper (Daboia ruselii)
Photo Credit: Dr. Muhammad Sharif Khan
and sub species:
Daboia is represented in Pakistan by one species:
is a large snake with an average length of 0.7 to 1.3 meters and a
maximum length of 1.7 meters. The head is rather long, triangular,
slightly distinct from neck, with large, conspicuous nostrils on side of
snout. The Fangs are large and the tail short. The ground color may be
dark brown, brownish-yellow,, or brownish-gray. Immature specimens are
usually clear orange to brownish-orange. Dorsal pattern consists of
black or brown oval spots edged with black, white, or both. Spots in
middle row may fuse together to form zig-zag pattern. Two rows of oval
spots run along each side of body. The tail is striped. Belly
pinkish-brown or whitish with black spots; becoming darker towards tail.
Three separate semi triangular spots on top of head are situated to form
triangle with vertex between eyes. A dark band runs diagonally from eye
to corner of mouth.
Head longer than broad, distinct from neck, body stout, dorsoventrally flattened; nostril large in a crescent-shaped, large nasal scale; the
supraocular scale not divided; 11-12 supralabials separated from eye by 3-4 rows
of small scales; 13-15 infralabials; anterior genial short, wide, posterior
not differentiated; dorsals strongly keeled in 27-33 rows at midbody;
ventrals 164-178, subcaudals 46-58, anal entire.
Dorsum light yellowish brown to sandy, with a median series of 22 to 32, large,
oval, chestnut blotches, bordered with black or dark brown, narrowly edged with
cream, arranged longitudinally, mostly fused with each other to form a
mid dorsal chain. A lateral series of similar but smaller spots, which on lower side are with
scattered dark flecks with lighter edges. A pair of dark spots at the base of head.
A light V-shaped canthal mark with apex on the snout. Labials mottled with
brown and cream, ventrum pinkish white with curved dark spots. Throat white.
Snout-vent length 1025-1080
mm, tail 212-225 mm.
Viper (Daboia ruselii), defensive posture
Photo Credit: Dr. Muhammad Sharif Khan
snake is primarily nocturnal (especially during hot weather). Lethargic
during day, but can be quiet active at night. Usually keeps to the shade of bushes
and grass growing along paths, where due to its characteristic body
color and pattern, it is difficult to be located. It shelters in rodents
burrows, old termite mounds, rock crevices, piles of leaves, or other
debris. Also found near human dwellings searching for prey. May be
active during day in cool weather. Can be very excitable. Coils and will
hiss when disturbed. When excited, body will vibrate and emit a low
rasping sound resulting from scales of one part of coiled body rubbing
upon another. It generally strikes only at objects within its effective
striking range, but may strike quickly without provocation. The venom of
this snake can deliver 2 to 3 times the lethal venom dose and causes
most of the snakebite fatalities in the areas where it occurs.
Breeding season extends
from April to July, gravid females are collected up to September, viviparous,
20-25 young are born.
Diet includes small mammals such as
rats, mice and birds. Prey is stalked and bitten and released, when helpless
it is taken.
chain viper inhabits mesic habitat of grass fields, saltish scrubby
areas, along marginal growths of water bodies, hedges and fences,
gardens and gally forests. Occurs in plains, savannahs, foothills
montane areas (moist, cool upland slopes below timberline) at elevations
upto 2,200 meters.
Russell's viper is found in Pakistan from India-Pakistan border to Indus
Valley in provinces of Sind and Punjab. It extends from Karachi to Rawalpindi, at low
altitudes. It is reported from throughout India to Bangladesh, extending
into peninsular India and Sri Lanka. It has been distinguished into several
races which are widely distributed throughout southeast Asia up to Taiwan.
Credit: Dr. Muhammad Sharif Khan
Guide to The Snakes of Pakistan, Muhammad Sharif Khan, Edition
Chimaira Frankfurt am Main 2002
Muhammad Sharif Khan, Herpetological Lab Rabwah, Pakistan
Wildlife of Pakistan-All Rights