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Vipera ursinii

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Title: Vipera ursinii  
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Subject: List of endangered and protected species of China, Viperinae, WikiProject Tree of Life/Articles without images/Reptiles
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Vipera ursinii

Vipera ursinii
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Vipera
Species: V. ursinii
Binomial name
Vipera ursinii
(Bonaparte, 1835)
  • Coluber foetidus
    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[2]
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] No subspecies are currently recognized.[5]


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


Adults average 40–50 cm (16–20 inches) in total length, although specimens of 63–80 cm (25–31½ 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.[7]

Common names

Meadow viper, Ursini's viper,[3] meadow adder,[4] Orsini's viper, field viper,[8] field adder.[9] 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.[8]
  • V. u. macrops – karst viper,[8] karst adder.[4]
  • V. u. rakosiensis – Danubian meadow viper.[8]
  • V. renardi – steppe viper,[8] steppe adder, Renard's viper.[4]
  • V. u. moldavica – Moldavian meadow viper.

Geographic range

Southeastern Russia and across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and eastern Uzbekistan steppes to China (Xinjiang).

Vipera ursini rakosiensis is native to Hungary[10] 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

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,[11] and is a strictly protected species (Appendix II) under the Berne Convention.[12]


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]

  • V. u. ursinii (Bonaparte, 1835)
  • V. u. eriwanensis (A.F. Reuss, 1933)
  • V. u. graeca Nilson & Andrén, 1988
  • V. u. macrops Méhelÿ, 1911
  • V. u. moldavica Nilson, Andrén & Joger, 1993
  • V. u. rakosiensis Méhely, 1893
  • V. u. renardi Christoph, 1861

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


  1. ^ a b Joger, Ulrich; Crnobrnja Isailovic, Jelka; Vogrin, Milan; Corti, Claudia; Sterijovski, Bogoljub; Westerström, Alexander; Krecsák, László; Pérez Mellado, Valentin; Sá-Sousa, Paulo; Cheylan, Marc; Pleguezuelos, Juan M.; Sindaco, Roberto (2008). "Vipera ursinii".  
  2. ^ a b c d e f McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). 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. 359 pp. 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. 184 pp. LCCCN 73–229. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.
  5. ^ "Vipera ursinii".  
  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 )
  7. ^ Arnold EN, Burton JA. 1978. A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. London: Collins. 272 pp. ISBN 0-00-219318-3. (Vipera ursinii, pp. 215-217 + Plate 39 + Map 121.)
  8. ^ a b c d e Steward JW. 1971. The Snakes of Europe. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Press (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press). 238 pp. LCCCN 77-163307. ISBN 0-8386-1023-4.
  9. ^ Hellmich W. 1962. Reptiles and Amphibians of Europe. London: Blandford Press. 160 pp. + 68 plates. Translated from Winter C. 1956. Die Lurche und Kriechtiere Europas. Heidelberg, Germany: Universitatsverlag, gegr. 1822, GmbH.
  10. ^ Fertő-Hansag National Park of Hungary
  11. ^ Vipera ursinii at CITES and United Nations Environment Programme / World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Accessed 8 October 2006.
  12. ^ Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Appendix II at Council of Europe. Accessed 9 October 2006.

Further reading

  • 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. 478 pp.
  • Latifi M. 1991. The Snakes of Iran. Oxford, Ohio: Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. 167 pp. ISBN 0-916984-22-2. (Vipera ursinii, p. 133.)

External links

  • Vipera ursinii at the Reptile Database. Accessed 2 September 2007.
  • )Vipera ursiniiMeadow viper ( at ARKive. Accessed 5 October 2006.
  • Vipera ursinii at Amphibians and Reptiles of Europe. Accessed 9 October 2006.
  • Vipera ursiniiOrsini's viper, at Reptiles & Amphibians of France. Accessed 30 October 2006.
  • Vipera eriwanensis at Checklist of Armenia's Amphibians and Reptiles, Tadevosyan's Herpetological Resources. Accessed 30 March 2007.
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