Russell's viper (Daboia russelii)
Bangla- Chandrobora |
English- Chain Viper |
Gujrati- Khad Chitro, Khad Chitad, Chitalo, Chitur, Ped |
Hindi- Parran, Chitti, Kaudia |
Malyalam- Anali, Manchatti, Payyana Mandali, Chenathandan, Mandali, Payyani, Rakthamandali, Rudiramandali, Rakthaanali, Kannadiviriyan, Manchatti, Vattackura, Pullan, Kuthirakulamban |
Marathi- Ghonas |
Oriya- Chandan Boda |
Punjabi- Kaudi wala, Dabuia |
Telgu- Raktha pinjara |
Distribution All over India, not found in the North-East.
Status -Common. The most common Viper of India.
Length- General length 4ft approx but can grow up to 6ft(rarely).
Dorsal body- - Body stout shaped with highly keeled, pointed and shine-less scales. Body color brown mixed with red or yellow, rare specimens may have dark gray color on whole dorsal body. Juvenile and subadults have a darker color while fully grown adults are mostly yellowish-brown. Continuous or discontinuous eye like spots of dark brown or blackish color present in the form of three longitudinal rows along the length of the body; the spots start from head and generally become faint or absent on tail. Color inside these spots may be lighter , darker, same like main dorsal surface or may be filled with same dark color spotís border color (specimen from Maharashtra). Side spots are more rounded and smaller than the spots present on the top and are generally discontinuous. Dark brown patches also present along with these spots on the whole dorsal surface. All types of patterns or spots may be totally absent in a few adult specimens (records from various parts of the country).
Ventral body- - Belly color white or light yellow with dark brown or blackish semi lunar spots at the edge of most of ventral. Subcaudal scales paired in a zig-zag manner and end with pointed tip; usually have yellowish color which is darker than ventral body.
Head- Head triangular, pointed with small shaped keeled scale; clearly broader than neck. Two triangular shaped spots (with a rounded edge) exist in each specimen. Upper lip color mostly pinkish white. Supra nasal crescentic with a large nostril. Eyes have a vertical pupil; Tongue color purplish-black. Two very long fangs present on the front side of the mouth at any life stage.
Tail- Small tail with a pointed tip with typical keeled scales; spots usually very faint or absent in adults.
Key characters for identification-
Look alikes- Closely looks like Python, Common Sand Boa.
- Thick brown colored body with eye like spots on the whole dorsal surface.
- Produce whistle like sound in coiled position to warn its enemy.
Head- 10-12 Supralabials; 10 to 15 small size scales surrounding eyes.
Dorsal- Highly keeled scales in 25-29:27-33:21-23 rows.
Ventral- 153-180; Anal undivided.
Subcaudal- 41-64; divided.
Behavior-Russellís Viper is a nocturnal species like other Vipers; but can be sighted in scrubs and bushes during day time for basking, during winter it can stay at a single place for more than one day for mating and basking. Lives in bushes, scrubs, rocks, dense vegetation, agricultural lands, dry leaves, grasslands, wood piles etc.
Behavior very agile and uncertain on provocation; first produce whistle sound(like a pressure cooker) as a warning sign, will coil its body with head at the center of the coil and may attack anytime on further disturbance. Can bite even when its body is elongated while creeping. Not a very good climber and like to remain on ground for better adjustment with its surroundings. Very rarely, if conditions are adverse, it may climb up to a certain height. Once a subadult was found on a hut in the month of December in MP.
Feeds on rodents, birds, lizards and small mammals. No genuine record of cannibalism from this species.
Reproduction - Female give birth to 6-96 live young (generally not more than 60) from May to mid August.
Russelís Viper is one of the most common Viper found in India (second being the Saw Scaled Viper) and the third most common venomous species in rescues. Human surroundings of bushes, gardens, agricultural lands, wood piles etc are found to be very useful for its activity for 24 hours due to the presence of rodents and an appropriate surrounding for hiding. It rarely enters in human houses and likes to remain outside in such places. Relocation of this species could be harmful as it is 1) exclusively terrestrial and 2) slow moving species, it like particular habitat which is decided by that rescued snake after long experience. Relocation of juveniles and subadult should not be done in any case and must be released inside 200mtr radius from rescue point.
Russelís viper is silent species and generally avoid attacking when provoked (first will give a warning by whistling like a pressure cooker). Generally it bites when people donít see them in their natural habitat and mistakenly step on its body resulting in a serious bite. The two long fangs eject a few drops of Hemotoxic venom. In few cases people assume them as non-venomous Python babies resulting in unfortunate encounter with the snake. Dry bite is possible in many cases but this has to be confirmed by medical experts only. Bite of Russelís Viper is usually non-fatal if treatment is done in a proper way. Medical treatment with the help of anti-venom is recommended in each bite without annoying experiments with bite site.