Saw Scaled Viper ( Echis carinatus Schneider, 1801 )

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Scientific Name: 
Echis carinatus (Schneider, 1801)
Regional Names: 
Carpet Viper
ಗರಗಸ ಮಂಡಲ ಹಾವು
Fursa, Phursa
Fursa, Diar
Churuttamandali, Shofamandali, Churutta, (ചുരുട്ട മണ്ഡലി)
Chandan Boda
Jalebi saap
Popsya, Udane, Kakarkanda
Suruttai viriyan
Indian Saw-Scaled Viper
Saw scaled viper in natural habitat: Venomous snake found in india
Subspecies Echis carinatus carinatus: Distributed throughout the Indian mainlands except most of the West Bengal (likely to be occur only in western parts of state) and eastwards states after West Bengal; also not found above Gangetic plains, Himalayan foothills, Indian Islands. Also found in Pakistan. Echis carinatus sochureki: Distributed in Western India (Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan) Recorded from following states: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Chattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, West Bengal.
Venom Type: 
Characteristics for identification: 

It can be identified by carefully checking very dry looking body covered with rough scales, light color rounded patches on top which are surrounded by two wavy lines from head to posterior body. 


New born- 8cm.
Average length- 30cm.
Maximum length- 80cm. (Depends on geographical areas, South Indian population is known for smaller size)

Dorsal -
Body short, robust and stout. Highly keeled pointed scales of dry appearance found in all over the dorsal body. Body color ranges from light to dark brown, gray, brick red or reddish-brown. Light color spots of light yellow or very light brown margined by dark color found in whole dorsal surface; these spots may be more symmetric on mid body; usually guarded and connected by two undulating lines from both sides (head to posterior body).

Ventral -
Belly color white with dark brown or blackish spots in all ventral scales; these spots become larger and more prominent on side ventrals. Subcaudal scales undivided.

Head -
Head triangular with small shaped keeled scale; clearly broader than neck. One Arrow or cruciform shaped or somewhat plus shaped mark always exist on the top of the head which may have long or short arms. Large eyes with vertical pupil. Two long foldable fangs present on the fore side of the mouth in all life stages.

Tail -
Short tail with a pointed tip, covered with keeled scales; typical dorsal patterns may be absent or faint.

10-12 supralabials (4th largest); 10-15 small size scales around eyes (excluding supraocular); 3-4 scales between nasal and eyes; 8-12 scales between supraoculars.
Highly keeled scales in 25-29: 27-37: 21-27 rows; obliquely arranged scales in 4-7 rows (these are responsible for its famous saw like sound due to mutual rubbing of side dorsals).
132-185; anal divided or undivided.
Sub Caudal: 
23-39; undivided.
Found both in moderate elevation and plains. Distributed in variety of forests including deserts, semi-deserts, rainforest, scrub forest, mixed, dry and moist deciduous forest, grassland etc. Habitat includes dry open lands, agricultural field, scrubs, rocky terrain, open plains etc. Hides in mounds, holes, piles, caves, cracks, dense leaf litters, rocks etc.
Natural History: 
Saw-scaled Viper is a nocturnal species which remains active from late evening to late nights for foraging and other life activities. Can be seen at day time while basking on habitat. Activity usually terrestrial but climbs on scrub vegetation for basking. Locomotion slow and use side winding motion for creeping faster. Behavior very alert, aggressive and quick to respond. This is one of the fastest striking snake and takes much less than 1 second time to bite and back to its original place. On provocation it makes a specific coil to keep the head on front and middle of the coil which is followed by mutual rubbing of oblique scales present on flank. This rubbing produce fascinating sound of "working of saw". Strikes very fast when enemy approaches to its attacking range and delivers small but very potent amount of venom even by scratching only. Mating season starts with male combats. Reproduction ovoviviparous, female directly gives birth to 6-8 young individuals during summer to monsoon months.
Feeds on rodents, lizards, frogs, rarely on other snakes, insects including scorpions.
Bite symptoms: 

Saw Scaled Viper is the smallest BIG FOUR member. Generally it bites when people don’t 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. Dry bite is possible in few cases but this has to be confirmed by medical experts only. Bite of Saw Scaled Viper is much serious than Russell’s Viper and cause serious tissue loss. Medical treatment with the help of anti-venom is recommended in each bite without annoying experiments with bite site.

Major threats are habitat destruction despite the fact that its well adopted to live in ignored lands and rocky terrain. Killing due to its venom potency and road kills are other major causes. For its venom it has been exploited in numbers and usually collected from field which are not protected and ignored.
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