Scientific name Vipera ursinii
Higher classification Vipera
Order Scaled reptiles
|Similar Snake, Vipera, Vipers, Reptile, Horned Viper|
Renard s viper vipera ursinii renardi
Vipera ursinii is a venomous viper and a very widespread species, found from southeastern France all the way to China (Xinjiang). No subspecies are currently recognized.
- Renard s viper vipera ursinii renardi
- Vipera ursinii macrops
- Common names
- Geographic range
- Conservation status
Vipera ursinii macrops
The specific name or epithet, ursinii, is in honor of Italian naturalist Antonio Orsini (1788–1870).
Adults average 40–50 cm (15.75–19.69 inches) in total length, although specimens of 63–80 cm (24.8–31.5 inches) have been reported. Females are larger than males. Although sometimes confused with V. aspis or V. berus, it differs from them in the following characters. The smallest viper in Europe, its body is thick, its head narrow, and its appearance rough. The snout is not upturned. There are always several large scales or plates on the top of the head. The prominently keeled dorsal scales are in only 19 rows, and often dark skin shows between them. It is gray, tan, or yellowish with a dark undulating dorsal stripe, which is edged with black.
Meadow viper, Ursini's viper, meadow adder, Orsini's viper, field viper, field adder. Although the following subspecies are currently invalid according to the taxonomy used here, their common names may still be encountered:
Southeastern France, eastern Austria (extinct), Hungary, central Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, northern and northeastern Republic of Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Romania, northern Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, northwestern Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and eastern Uzbekistan steppes to China (Xinjiang).
Vipera ursinii rakosiensis is native to Hungary although the taxonomic status of this subspecies is disputed (see section "Taxonomy")
The type locality is " ...monti dell' Abruzzo prossimi alla provincia d'Ascoli... " (...mountains of Abruzzo near the Province of Ascoli Piceno, Italy...).
This species is considered to be a Vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, due to habitat destruction caused by changes in agricultural practices and climate change in mountain areas, and to collection for the pet trade.
In addition, this species is listed on CITES Appendix I, which means that it is threatened with extinction if trade is not halted, and is a strictly protected species (Appendix II) under the Berne Convention.
Vipera ursinii is the most threatened snake in Europe. During a study at the Iasi University, Faculty of Biology, there were found to be 12 human activities that have been threatening these animals. Which include: [13.] 1.Grazing 2.Mowing 3. Fire 4. Agriculture 5. Roads 6. Constructions 7. Leisure Activities 8. Afforestation 9. Cynegetic species management 10. Persecution 11. Illegal collection 12. Littering
There is high genetic diversity within samples of V. ursinii and several species may be involved. At least six subspecies may be encountered in modern literature:
Golay et al. (1993) recognize the first four, while Mallow et al. (2003) recognize five and list V. eriwanensis and V. renardi as valid species. However, McDiarmid et al. (1999), and thus ITIS, feel that more definitive data is necessary before any subspecies can be recognized.