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POISONOUS SNAKES OF EUROPE


Common adder
Vipera berus

Description: Its color is variable. Some adult specimens are completely black while others have a dark zigzag pattern running along the back.

Characteristics: The common adder is a small true viper that has a short temper and often strikes without hesitation. Its venom is hemotoxic, destroying blood cells and causing tissue damage. Most injuries occur to campers, hikers, and field workers.

Habitat: Common adders are found in a variety of habitats, from grassy fields to rocky slopes, and on farms and cultivated lands.

Length: Average 45 centimeters, maximum 60 centimeters.

Distribution: Very common throughout most of Europe.


Long-nosed adder
Vipera ammodytes

Description: Coloration is gray, brown, or reddish with a dark brown or black zigzag pattern running the length of its back. A dark stripe is usually found behind each eye.

Characteristics: A small snake commonly found in much of its range. The term "long-nosed" comes from the projection of tiny scales located on the tip of its nose. This viper is responsible for many bites. Deaths have been recorded. Its venom is hemotoxic, causing severe pain and massive tissue damage. The rate of survival is good with medical aid.

Habitat: Open fields, cultivated lands, farms, and rocky slopes.

Length: Average 45 centimeters, maximum 90 centimeters.

Distribution: Italy, Yugoslavia, northern Albania, and Romania.


Pallas' viper
Agkistrodon halys

Description: Coloration is gray, tan, or yellow, with markings similar to those of the American copperhead.

Characteristics: This snake is timid and rarely strikes. Its venom is hemotoxic but rarely fatal.

Habitat: Found in open fields, hillsides, and farming regions.

Length: Average 45 centimeters, maximum 90 centimeters.

Distribution: Throughout southeastern Europe.


Ursini's viper
Vipera ursinii

Description: The common adder, long-nosed adder, and Ursini's viper basically have the same coloration and dorsal zigzag pattern. The exception among these adders is that the common adder and Ursini's viper lack the projection of tiny scales on the tip of the nose.

Characteristics: These little vipers have an irritable disposition. They will readily strike when approached. Their venom is hemotoxic. Although rare, deaths from the bites of these vipers have been recorded.

Habitat: Meadows, farmlands, rocky hillsides, and open, grassy fields.

Length: Average 45 centimeters, maximum 90 centimeters.

Distribution: Most of Europe, Greece, Germany, Yugoslavia, France, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania.

Back to Poisonous Snakes and Lizards




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