Vipera aspis aspis.jpg
Asp viper, V. aspis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Vipera
Laurenti, 1768
Synonyms [1]
  • Vipera Laurenti, 1768
  • Pelias Merrem, 1820
  • Chersea Fleming, 1822
  • Rhinaspis Bonaparte, 1834
  • Rhinechis Fitzinger, 1843
  • Echidnoides Mauduyt, 1844
  • Mesocoronis A.F. Reuss, 1927
  • Teleovipera A.F. Reuss, 1927
  • Acridophaga A.F. Reuss, 1927
  • Mesovipera A.F. Reuss, 1927
  • Mesohoronis A.F. Reuss, 1927
  • Mesohorinis A.F. Reuss, 1927
  • Latastea A.F. Reuss, 1929
  • Tzarevcsya A.F. Reuss, 1929
  • Latasteopara A.F. Reuss, 1935
Common names: Palaearctic vipers,[2] Eurasian vipers.[3]

Vipera is a genus of venomous vipers. It has a very wide range, being found from North Africa to just within the Arctic Circle and from Great Britain to Pacific Asia.[3] The name is possibly derived from the Latin words vivus and pario, meaning "alive" and "bear" or "bring forth"; likely a reference to the fact that most vipers bear live young.[4] Currently, 23 species are recognized.[5]


Members are usually small and more or less stoutly built. The head is distinct from the neck, of triangular shape, and covered with small scales in many species, although some have a few small plates on top. The dorsal scales are strongly keeled, the anal scale is divided and the subcaudals paired.[3]

Geographic range

They can be found in Great Britain and nearly all of continental Europe, on some small islands of the Mediterranean (Elba, Montecristo, Sicily) and the Aegean Sea, as well as in northern Africa in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. It also occurs across the Arctic Circle and eastwards though northern Asia to Sakhalin Island and northern Korea.[1]


Most species prefer cooler environments. Those found at lower latitudes tend to prefer higher altitudes and dryer, rocky habitats, while the species that occur at more northern latitudes prefer lower elevations and environments that have more vegetation and moisture.[3]


All species are terrestrial.[3]


All members are viviparous, giving birth to live young.[3]


Most Vipera species have venom that contains both neurotoxic and hemotoxic components. Bites vary widely in severity. Smaller, northern species, such as V. berus, have only slightly less toxic venom, but inject very little. Others, such as V. ammodytes, are capable of injecting much more with devastating results. However, bites from Vipera species are rarely as severe as those from larger Macrovipera or Daboia.[3]


Species[1] Taxon author[1] Subsp.* Common name Geographic range[1]
V. albicornuta Nilson & Andrén, 1985 0 Iranian mountain viper The Zanjan Valley and surrounding mountains in northwestern Iran.
V. albizona Nilson, Andrén & Flärdh, 1990 0 Central Turkish mountain viper Central Turkey.
V. ammodytes (Linnaeus, 1758) 4 Horned viper North-eastern Italy, southern Slovakia, western Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Republic of Macedonia, Greece (including Macedonia and Cyclades), Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Syria.
V. aspisT (Linnaeus, 1758) 4 Asp viper France, Andorra, northeastern Spain, extreme southwestern Germany, Switzerland, Monaco, the islands of Elba and Montecristo, Sicily, Italy, San Marino and northwestern Slovenia.
V. barani Böhme & Joger, 1984 0 Baran's adder Northwestern Turkey.
V. berus (Linnaeus, 1758) 2 Common European adder From western Europe (Great Britain, Scandinavia, France) across central (Italy, Albania, Bulgaria and northern Greece) and eastern Europe to north of the Arctic Circle, and Russia to the Pacific Ocean, Sakhalin Island, North Korea, northern Mongolia and northern China.
V. bornmuelleri F. Werner, 1898 0 Bornmuellers viper Golan Heights, southern Lebanon and Syria.
V. bulgardaghica Nilson & Andrén, 1985 0 Bulgardagh viper The Bulgar Dagh (Bolkar Dagi) mountains, Nigde Province, south central Anatolia, Turkey.
V. darevskii Vedmederja, Orlov & Tuniyev, 1986 0 Darevsky's viper The southeastern Dzavachet Mountains in Armenia and adjacent areas in Georgia.
V. dinniki Nikolsky, 1913 0 Dinnik's viper Russia (Great Caucasus) and Georgia (high mountain basin of the Inguri River), eastward to Azerbaijan.
V. kaznakovi Nikolsky, 1909 0 Caucasus viper Northeastern Turkey, Georgia and Russia (eastern Black Sea coast.
V. latastei Boscá, 1878 1 Lataste's viper Extreme southwestern Europe (France, Portugal and Spain) and northwestern Africa (the Mediterranean region of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia).
V. latifii Mertens, Darevsky & Klemmer, 1967 0 Latifi's viper Iran: upper Lar Valley in the Elburz Mountains.
V. lotievi Nilson et al., 1995 0 Caucasian meadow viper The higher range of the Big Caucasus: Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
V. monticola Saint-Girons, 1954 0 Atlas mountain viper High Atlas Mountains, Morocco.
V. nikolskii Vedmederja, Grubant & Rudajewa, 1986 0 Nikolsky's viper Central Ukraine.
V. palaestinae F. Werner, 1938 0 Palestine viper Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon.
V. pontica Billing, Nilson & Sattler, 1990 0 Pontic adder Known only from the Coruh valley in Artvin Province, northeastern Turkey.
V. raddei Boettger, 1890 0 Rock viper Eastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and probably Iraq.
V. seoanei Lataste, 1879 1 Baskian viper Extreme southwestern France and the northern regions of Spain and Portugal.
V. ursinii (Bonaparte, 1835) 0 Meadow viper Southeastern France, eastern Austria (extinct), Hungary, central Italy, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, northern and northeastern Albania, Romania, northern Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, northwestern Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and across the Khazakstan, Kirgizia and eastern Uzbekistan steppes to China (Xinjiang).
V. wagneri Nilson & Andrén, 1984 0 Ocellated mountain viper The mountains of eastern Turkey and adjacent northwest Iran.
V. xanthina (Gray, 1849) 0 Rock viper Extreme northeastern Greece, the Greek islands of Symi, Kos, Kalimnos, Leros, Lipsos, Patmos, Samos, Chios and Lesbos, European Turkey, the western half of Anatolia (inland eastward to Kayseri), and islands (e.g. Chalki, Kastellórizon [Meis Adasi]) of the Turkish mainland shelf.

* Not including the nominate subspecies. T: type species


  1. ^ a b c d e McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ Spawls S, Branch B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Ralph Curtis Books. Dubai: Oriental Press. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. 359 pp. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  4. ^ Gotch AF. 1986. Reptiles -- Their Latin Names Explained. Poole, UK: Blandford Press. 176 pp. ISBN 0-7137-1704-1.
  5. ^ "Vipera". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 13 August 2006. 

Further reading

  • Arnold EN, Burton JA. 1978. A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. London: Collins. 272 pp. ISBN 0-00-219318-3. (Genus Vipera, pp. 211, 214.)
  • Boulenger GA. 1896. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume II., Containing the...Viperidæ. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers.) xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I.- XXV. (Genus Vipera, pp. 471-472.)
  • Laurenti JN. 1768. Specimen medicum, exhibens synopsin reptilium emendatam cum experimentis circa venena et antidota reptilium austriacorum. Vienna: "Joan. Thom. Nob. de Trattern". 214 pp. + Plates I.- V. (Genus Vipera, p. 99.)