Russell's Viper ( Daboia russelii Shaw and Nodder, 1797 )

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Scientific Name: 
Daboia russelii (Shaw and Nodder, 1797)
Regional Names: 
Chain Viper
ಕೊಳಕ ಮಂಡಲ
ખડચિતડ, કામળીઓ
Parran, Chitti, Kaudia. hindi names are variable and region specific.
Anali, Manchatti, Payyana Mandali, Chenathandan, Mandali, Payyani, Rakthamandali, Rudiramandali, Rakthaanali, Kannadiviriyan, Manchatti, Vattackura, Pullan, Kuthirakulamban
Yellowish-brown form. Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
Distributed throughout the country upto Assam. Not found in Indian islands, Himalayan hills and most of the North-states. Recorded from following states: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, West Bengal. Also found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Venom Type: 
Characteristics for identification: 

This species can be identified easily by robust and stout body covered with keeled scales. In three rows eye or almond like spots found in whole dorsal body. This character helps people to differentiate between Russell's Viper and non-venomous Indian Rock Python which is found in the same range. It can be easily identified by checking oval shaped hollow or solid spots in three rows in dorsal body and highly keeled non-shiny scales. 


New born- 24cm.
Average length- 100cm (3.3ft).
Maximum length- 180cm (6ft).

Dorsal -
Body stout, robust and covered with highly keeled pointed and dry looking scales. Dorsal light or dark grayish-brown, reddish, orange or entirely gray occasionally. Color and patterns become faint in adults or sometimes adults fund to be completely patternless. Continuous or discontinuous eye or almond like hollow or solid spots of dark brown or blackish color present in three longitudinal rows along the body; starts from head and generally become faint or absent on tail side. Side spots smaller and more rounded than spots present on the top and generally discontinuous.

Ventral -
Belly white or light yellow with deep dark brown or blackish semi lunar spots on the edge of most of ventral scales. Underside of tail usually darker (brown or deep yellow) than ventral scales with paired subcaudals.

Head -
Head triangular, pointed with small keeled scales; clearly broader than neck. Two triangular shaped spots of rounded edge present on the top. Upper lip pinkish white mostly. Supra nasal crescentic with large nostril. Moderate eyes have vertically elliptical pupil. Two very long fangs present in front side of mouth from birth.

Tail -
Rather small tail with pointed tip and covered with typical keeled scales; usually without patterns.

10-12 supralabials; 10 to 15 small size scales around eyes.
Highly keeled scales in 25-29:27-33:21-23 rows.
153-180; anal undivided.
Sub Caudal: 
41-64; divided.
Found both in plains and moderate elevation up to approximately 4800ft; more common in plains. Distributed in variety of forests including rainforest, mixed, dry, moist deciduous forest, scrub lands, grassland, wetland etc. Habitat includes dry open lands, agricultural fields, open country, scrubs having low bushes, rocky terrain having mounds & vegetation etc. Hides in mounds, holes, piles, caves, cracks, dense leaf litters, dense vegetation etc.
Natural History: 
Russell's Viper is a nocturnal species which choose nights for foraging and other life activities. Seen at daytime during basking which can retain for most of the day during winters. Shows terrestrial activity and choose drier surrounding. Locomotion usually slow but creeps in somewhat jumpy manner after threatening. Behaviour alert and aggressive if one comes under its attacking range or sitting site. On provocation make a plate like rounded coil with head at center and produce whistle or pressure cooker like sound to alarm its enemy. On further disturbance gives random attacks to scratch enemy's body parts and may or may not deliver its haemotoxic venom. Mating season starts from winters and usually retains up to starting of summer. Male combat also observed during the same period to show dominance for breeding female. Reproduction ovoviviparous; female directly gives birth to 6-96 young during summer to monsoon months. Such large clutch size is not found in any other Viper or Pit Viper of India. However in such large clutch size many individuals usually born dead or die after few hours of birth due to lack of proper nutrition and lack of proper development during gestation.
Feeds chiefly on rodents and small mammals; also feeds on birds, lizards, frogs.
Road kill mortality, killing due to its venom potency and aggression on encounter with humans on field are two most commonly known threats. Illegal venom trade for various use including medical and research use is regularly noticed in parts of its range. In many parts of country it is exploited for skin and edible use.
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