Venomous vipers and snakes

Vipera Berus - European Adder


Conservation status: LEAST CONCERN

Vipera Berus

Description


Vipera Berus, commonly named European Adder, is a venomous snake. It is extremely widespread and can be found throughout most of Western Europe and as far as East Asia.

Relatively thick-bodied, adults usually grow to 60 cm (24 in) in total length (including tail), with an average of 55 cm (22 in). Maximum size varies by region. The largest, at over 90 cm (35 in), are found in Scandinavia; specimens of 104 cm (41 in) have been observed there on two occasions. In France and Great Britain, the maximum size is 80–87 cm (31–34 in). The colour pattern varies, ranging from very light-coloured specimens with small, incomplete, dark dorsal crossbars to entirely brown ones with faint or clear, darker brown markings, and on to melanistic individuals that are entirely dark and lack any apparent dorsal pattern. However, most have some kind of zigzag dorsal pattern down the entire length of their bodies and tails. The head usually has a distinctive dark V or X on the back. A dark streak runs from the eye to the neck and continues as a longitudinal series of spots along the flanks.

It is found in a variety of habitats, including: chalky downs, rocky hillsides, moors, sandy heaths, meadows, rough commons, edges of woods, sunny glades and clearings, bushy slopes and hedgerows, dumps, coastal dunes, and stone quarries. It will venture into wetlands if dry ground is available nearby and thus may be found on the banks of streams, lakes, and ponds [1].


Threats


Venom. European Adder is venomous snake and bites are relatively common. Domestic animals and livestock are frequent victims. In Great Britain, most instances occur in March–October. In Sweden, there are about 1,300 bites a year, with an estimated 12% that require hospitalisation. Mallow et al. (2003) describe the venom toxicity as being relatively low compared to other viper species. Local symptoms include immediate and intense pain, followed after a few minutes (but perhaps by as much as 30 minutes) by swelling and a tingling sensation. Blisters containing blood are not common. The pain may spread within a few hours, along with tenderness and inflammation. Reddish lymphangitic lines and bruising may appear, and the whole limb can become swollen and bruised within 24 hours. Swelling may also spread to the trunk, and with children, throughout the entire body. Necrosis and intracompartmental syndromes are very rare. Systemic symptoms resulting from anaphylaxis can be dramatic. These may appear within 5 minutes post bite, or can be delayed for many hours. Such symptoms include nausea, retching and vomiting, abdominal colic and diarrhoea, incontinence of urine and faeces, sweating, fever, vasoconstriction, tachycardia, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness, blindness, shock, angioedema of the face, lips, gums, tongue, throat and epiglottis, urticaria and bronchospam. If left untreated, these symptoms may persist or fluctuate for up to 48 hours. In severe cases, cardiovascular failure may occur [1].

There are antivenoms for this species produced in the Russia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia and France [2].


Conservation status


Conservation status. This species is classified as Least Concern (LC) according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is, however, listed as strictly protected (Appendix II) under the Berne Convention. In that case you must remeber that you as a human are also dangerous for this viper and hurting or killing it is not acceptable [1].


Read more


Useful Links:

  1. Wikipedia: Vipera berus
  2. WHO: Venomous Snakes Database

Data


Data about Vipera berus snake occurence is based on the information from Wikipedia page [1]. The data are divided into two indicators: [1] - risk region [0] - secure region. The data was created based on the maps and descriptions from the corresponding Wikipedia’s websites. (See data access and policies).


Data access and policies: The data is avaible on the webpage: [1]. This data may be shared and adapted for any purpose with appriopriate credit and on the same license as metadata. More information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/.



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