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Macrovipera lebetina obtusa03.jpg
Macrovipera lebetina obtusa
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Macrovipera
A.F. Reuss, 1927[1]
Common names: large Palearctic vipers.[2]

Macrovipera is a genus of venomous vipers that inhabit the semideserts and steppes of North Africa, the Near and Middle East, and the Milos Archipelago in the Aegean Sea.[1] These snakes are responsible for a number of bites in Africa and Western Asia every year. They have a reputation for being ill-tempered and can inject a lot of venom, which is why they should be considered as very dangerous.[3] Four species are currently recognized.[4]


Except for M. schweizeri, these snakes are all capable of exceeding 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in total length (body + tail).[3]

The head is broad, flat, and distinct from the neck. Dorsally, it is covered with small, irregular keeled scales. The supraoculars are also fragmented or partially divided. There seems to be a lot of variation in the different scale characteristics.[3]

Geographic range[edit]

Species of this genus are found in Morocco, Algeria and Tunis in North Africa, east to Pakistan, Kashmir and India, north to the Milos Archipelago in the Aegean Sea (Greece), Armenia and Dagestan (Russia). To the south, there is only one old record from Yemen.[3]


Members of this genus are adapted to arid and dry habitats.[3]


All of these species lay eggs (oviparous).[3]


Species[1] Taxon author[1] Subsp.* Common name Geographic range[1]
M. deserti (Anderson, 1892) 0 Desert viper North Africa: Libya, Tunisia and possibly Algeria.
M. lebetinaT (Linnaeus, 1758) 4 Blunt-nosed viper Dagestan, Algeria, Tunisia, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Russian Caucasia, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tadzikhistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir.
M. mauritanica (A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1848) 0 Moorish viper Northwestern Africa: Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
M. schweizeri (F. Werner, 1935) 0 Milos viper The Grecian islands of the Cyclades Archipelago in the Aegean Sea: Milos and the three smaller, adjacent islands of Siphnos, Kimolos and Polinos.

*) Not including the nominate subspecies.
T) Type species.


The genus Macrovipera was created by Francis Albert Theodor Reuss (1927), specifically to accommodate M. lebetina (the type species). The three other species currently recognized were, at one point, all regarded as subspecies of M. lebetina. It is now likely that certain subspecies of M. lebetina will also be elevated to valid species status in the not too distant future.[3] Regarding the geographic range of M. lebetina, it is possible that this species is now extinct in Israel.[5]

See also[edit]


  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. Washington, District of Columbia: 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. Dubai: Ralph Curtis Books. 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. ^ "Macrovipera". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 5 August 2006. 
  5. ^ Macrovipera lebetina at the Reptile Database. Accessed 9 August 2007.

Further reading[edit]

  • Reuss [AF]T. 1927. Sechs europaïsche Giftschlangengattungen. Zoologischer Anzeiger 73: 124-129.

External links[edit]