Vipera ursinii

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Vipera ursinii
Benny Trapp Vipera ursinii.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Vipera
V. ursinii
Binomial name
Vipera ursinii
(Bonaparte, 1835)
  • Coluber foetidus
    Güldenstädt In Georgi, 1801
  • Pelias Ursinii Bonaparte, 1835
  • [P[elias]. berus] Var. Ursinii
    Cope, 1860
  • Pelias chersea vel Ursinii
    — Cope, 1860
  • Pelias Renardi Christoph, 1861
  • [Vipera berus] var. rákosiensis Méhelÿ, 1893
  • Vipera ursinii Boulenger, 1893
  • Vipera renardi — Boulenger, 1893
  • Vipera ursinii var. rakosiensis Méhely, 1894
  • Vipera ursinii — Boulenger, 1896
  • Vipera renardi — Boulenger, 1896
  • Vipera macrops Méhely, 1911
  • Vipera ursinii macrops
    Bolkay, 1924
  • Vipera (Pelias) ursinii forma trans. rudolphi A.F. Reuss, 1924
  • Acridophaga ursinii
    — A.F. Reuss, 1927
  • Vipera ursinii ursinii
    L. Müller, 1927
  • Coluber ursinoides
    Nikolsky, 1927
  • Peilas berus var. uralensis
    A.F. Reuss, 1929 (nomen nudum)
  • Acridophaga uralensis
    — A.F. Reuss, 1929
  • Vipera berus var. rakosiensis
    F. Werner, 1929
  • A[cridophaga]. (renardi) eriwanensis A.F. Reuss, 1933
  • Vipera ursinii renardi
    Schwarz, 1936
  • Vipera ursinii macrops
    — Schwarz, 1936
  • Acridophaga ursini
    — F. Werner, 1938
  • Vipera berus var. renardi
    Başoğlu, 1947
  • Vipera ursinii rakosiensis
    — Knoepffler & Sochurek, 1955
  • Vipera ursinii ebneri
    Knoepffler & Sochurek, 1955
  • Vipera ursinii wettsteini
    Knoepffler & Sochurek, 1955
  • Vipera orsinii Ghidini, 1958
  • Vipera ursinii ursinii
    Kramer, 1961
  • Vipera ursinii rudolphi
    Kramer, 1961
  • Acridophaga eriwanensis
    — Kramer, 1961
  • Vipera ursinii anatolica
    Eiselt & Baran, 1970
  • Vipera ursinii renardi
    Saint-Girons, 1978
  • Vipera (Vipera) ursinii ursinii
    Obst, 1983
  • Vipera (Vipera) ursinii macrops
    — Obst, 1983
  • Vipera (Vipera) ursinii rakosiensis — Obst, 1983
  • Vipera (Vipera) ursinii renardi
    — Obst, 1983
  • Vipera (Vipera) ursinii wettsteini
    — Obst, 1983
  • Vipera ursinii eriwanensis
    Nilson, Andrén & Flärdh, 1988
  • Vipera ursinii graeca
    Nilson & Andrén, 1988
  • V[ipera]. ursinii rakoniensis
    — González, 1991
  • Vipera ursinii Latifi, 1991
  • Vipera ursinii moldavica
    Nilson, Andrén & Joger, 1993
Common names: meadow viper, Ursini's viper,[3] meadow adder,[4] (more).

Vipera ursinii is a venomous viper and a very widespread species, found from southeastern France all the way to China (Xinjiang).[2] Several subspecies are recognized. [5]


The specific name or epithet, ursinii, is in honor of Italian naturalist Antonio Orsini (1788–1870).[6][7]


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.[3] 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.[8]

Common names[edit]

Meadow viper, Ursini's viper,[3] meadow adder,[4] Orsini's viper, field viper,[9] field adder.[10] Although the following subspecies are currently invalid according to the taxonomy used here, their common names may still be encountered:

  • V. u. ursinii – Italian meadow viper.[9]
  • V. u. macrops – karst viper,[9] karst adder.[4]
  • V. u. rakosiensis – Danubian meadow viper.[9]
  • V. renardi – steppe viper,[9] steppe adder, Renard's viper.[4]
  • V. u. moldavica – Moldavian meadow viper.

Geographic range[edit]

Southeastern France, eastern Austria (extinct), Hungary, central Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina[11], northern and northeastern Republic of Kosovo, Republic of 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[12] 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...).[2]

Conservation status[edit]

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.[1]

In addition, this species is listed on CITES Appendix I, which means that it is threatened with extinction if trade is not halted,[13] and is a strictly protected species (Appendix II) under the Berne Convention.[14]

Vipera ursinii is the most threatened snake in Europe. At least 12 human activities are threatening these animals: 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:[2]

Golay et al. (1993) recognize the first four,[2] while Mallow et al. (2003) recognize five and list V. eriwanensis and V. renardi as valid species.[3] However, McDiarmid et al. (1999), and thus ITIS, feel that more definitive data is necessary before any subspecies can be recognized.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Joger, Ulrich; Isailovic, Jelka Crnobrnja; Vogrin, Milan; Corti, Claudia; Sterijovski, Bogoljub; Westerström, Alexander; Krecsák, László; Pérez Mellado, Valentin; Sá-Sousa, Paulo; Cheylan, Marc; Plezueguelos, Juan M.; Sindaco, Roberto (2009). "Vipera ursinii ". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2009: e.T22997A9406628. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T22997A9406628.en. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T (1999). Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Vol. 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  3. ^ a b c d Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G (2003). True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  4. ^ a b c d Brown JH (1973). Toxicology and Pharmacology of Venoms from Poisonous Snakes. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.
  5. ^ Ferchaud, Anne-Laure; Ursenbacher, Sylvain; Cheylan, Marc; Luiselli, Luca; Jelić, Dušan; Halpern, Bálint; Major, Ágnes; Kotenko, Tatiana; Keyan, Najme (2012-07-27). "Phylogeography of the Vipera ursinii complex (Viperidae): mitochondrial markers reveal an east-west disjunction in the Palaearctic region". Journal of Biogeography. 39 (10): 1836–1847. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02753.x.
  6. ^ Bonaparte, Carlo Luciano (1835). Iconografia della fauna italica per le quattro classi degli animali vertebrati. Tomo 2. Amfibi. Rome: Salviucci. pages unnumbered. (Pelias Ursinii, new species). (in Italian).
  7. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Vipera ursinii, p. 196).
  8. ^ Arnold EN, Burton JA (1978). A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-219318-3. (Vipera ursinii, pp. 215–217 + Plate 39 + Map 121).
  9. ^ a b c d e Steward JW (1971). The Snakes of Europe. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Press (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press). ISBN 0-8386-1023-4.
  10. ^ Hellmich W (1962). Reptiles and Amphibians of Europe. London: Blandford Press. Translated from Winter C (1956). Die Lurche und Kriechtiere Europas. Heidelberg, Germany: Universitatsverlag, gegr. 1822, GmbH.
  11. ^ Jelić, Dušan; Ajtic, Rastko; Bogoljub, Sterijovski; Crnobrnja-Isailovic, Jelka; Lelo, Suvad; Tomović, Ljiljana (2013-01-31). "Distribution of the genus Vipera in the western and Central Balkans (Squamata, Serpentes, Viperidae)". Herpetozoa. 25: 109–132.
  12. ^ Leírás. Fertő-Hanság Nemzeti Park (Fertő-Hansag National Park of Hungary)
  13. ^ Vipera ursinii at CITES and United Nations Environment Programme / World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Accessed 8 October 2006.
  14. ^ Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Appendix II at Council of Europe. Accessed 9 October 2006.

Further reading[edit]

  • Golay P, Smith HM, Broadley DG, Dixon JR, McCarthy CJ, Rage J-C, Schätti B, Toriba M (1993). Endoglyphs and Other Major Venomous Snakes of the World: A Checklist. Geneva: Azemiops.
  • Latifi M (1991). The Snakes of Iran. Oxford, Ohio: Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. ISBN 0-916984-22-2. (Vipera ursinii, p. 133.)

External links[edit]