Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species ranges from north-central and northeastern Spain , through much of France (where it is absent from the north and the Mediterranean coastal area), southwestern Germany (where it is known only from a single locality in the Black Forest), western and central Switzerland, throughout Italy (including the islands of Sicily, Elba and Montecristo; in the latter is very probably introduced), and western Slovenia. The species has not been recorded from Croatia ((Dušan Jelić pers. comm., October 2008). Records of this species outside of the current range need to be confirmed. It can be found up to 3,000 m asl.
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Continent: Europe
Distribution: NE Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy,  NW Yugoslavia: Slovenia (?)  aspis: France, NW Switzerland, SW Germany atra: W Switzerland, NW Italy, SE France francisciredi: S Switzerland, N/C Italy, Slovenia, NW Croatia hugyi: S Italy (Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily) montecristi: Italy (Montecristo Island) zinnikeri: NE Spain, SW France (Pyrenees)  
Type locality: “Gallia”
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is found in dry, rocky areas, open scrubland, open woodlands, closed forest, hedges, pastures and stone walls. It often occurs on the edge of natural habitats, and is characteristic of chestnut woods in Italy. The species is common in mesic habitats. It is rare in suburban areas and arable land. The females give birth to between five and 22 young.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 25 years Observations: In one laboratory study these animals lived only a maximum of 10 years and reached maturity sooner (2 versus 4 years) than wild animals, suggesting that environmental conditions, which may induce hibernation, are factors in longevity (Castanet 1994). It stops growing by 7-8 years (Caleb Finch 1990).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2009

Assessor/s
Claudia Corti, Juan M. Pleguezuelos, Valentin Pérez-Mellado, Rafael Marquez, Marc Cheylan, Philippe Geniez, Ulrich Joger, Hans Konrad Nettmann, Benedikt Schmidt, Andreas Meyer, Roberto Sindaco, Antonio Romano, Iñigo Martínez-Solano

Reviewer/s
Cox, N. and Temple, H.J. (Global Reptile Assessment)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

History
  • 2006
    Least Concern
    (IUCN 2006)
  • 2006
    Least Concern
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Population

Population
It is a common species in much of its range. The species appears to be expanding its range geographically and altitudinally in France, however the extent of this change needs to be determined.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
This species is threatened by loss of habitat through agricultural intensification, and to a lesser degree loss of habitat resulting from the development of tourist facilities and urbanization. The species is often found in open areas and overgrowth of these sites is an additional threat (for example in the Jura Mountains) (Jaggi and Baur, 1999). The species is persecuted by people, and illegally collected for the pet trade. Some populations are threatened through mortality on roads.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention and is protected by national legislation in parts of its range (e.g.. Switzerland). It occurs in many protected areas. The subspecies V. a. aspis is categorized as Critically Endangered in Switzerland; V. a. atra is categorized as Vulnerable; and V. a. francisciredi is categorized as Endangered (Monney and Meyer, 2005).
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Wikipedia

Vipera aspis

Common names: asp, asp viper,[5] European asp,[6] aspic viper,[7] more.

Vipera aspis is a venomous viper species found in southwestern Europe. Bites from this species can be more severe than from the European adder, V. berus; not only can they be very painful, but also about 4% of all untreated bites are fatal.[7] The specific epithet, aspis, is a Greek word that means "viper."[8] Five subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.[9]

Description[edit]

The species grows to an average total length of 60–65 centimetres (24–26 in). Males reach a maximum total length of 85 cm (33 in), females rarely more than 75 cm (30 in). Males, however, are a little slimmer than females. The tail is very short: one-seventh to one-ninth of total body length in females, and one-sixth to one-eighth in males.[5]

The head is broad, triangular and quite distinct from the neck. The tip of the snout is slightly but distinctly upturned. The rostral scale is generally higher than it is wide, touching 2 to 3 scales on the upper side of the snout. Dorsally, the snout is flat with distinct and slightly raised sharp margins. The nasal scale is single (hardly ever divided) and separated from the rostral by a single nasorostral scale. The crown is covered with numerous small and irregular scales of different sizes that are mostly smooth, but sometimes slightly keeled. Frontal and parietal scales are usually not present, but if so, they are small and irregularly shaped, with the frontal separated from the supraoculars by 2 scale rows. The supraocular scales are large and distinct, separated by 4–7 scale rows. There are 10–12 (rarely 8–18) small circumorbital scales below the supraocular. The eye is separated from the supralabials by 2 (rarely 3) scale rows. The vertical diameter of the eye is about the same as the distance between the eye and the mouth. There are 9–13 supralabials. The 4th–5th supralabials (rarely 4th–6th or 5th–6th) are separated from the eye by 2 (rarely 3) rows of small scales, but sometimes there is a single scale between the 4th supralabial and the eye. Generally, the temporal scales are smooth, but sometimes slightly keeled.[5]

Midbody, there are 21–23 (rarely 19 or 25) rows of dorsal scales. These are strongly keeled, except for the outermost rows that vary and are sometimes smooth. There are 134–170 ventral scales. Subspecies V. a. aspis averages fewer than 150 ventrals, while V. a. atra averages more. The anal scale is single. Males have 32–49 subcaudals, females 30–43.[5] The subcaudal scales are paired.[7]

The dorsal markings vary strongly, but only rarely take the form of a clear zigzag, as in V. berus.[5]

Common names[edit]

Common names of Vipera aspis include "asp", "asp viper",[5] "European asp",[6] "aspic viper",[7] "European viper"[10] and "Jura viper".[11]

Geographic range[edit]

Distribution of V. aspis.[12]

France, Andorra, northeastern Spain, extreme southwestern Germany, Switzerland, the islands of Elba and Montecristo, Sicily, Italy, San Marino and northwestern Slovenia. The original type locality was listed simply as "Gallia." However, Schwarz (1936) proposed that it be restricted to "Poitou [Frankreich]" (Poitou, France).[4]

In August–October 2006, a number of specimens were discovered in a wooded area near the town of Poortugaal in the Netherlands (south of Rotterdam). Although they were doing quite well, the species is not native in this country. It is likely that one or more escaped or were set loose in the area.[13][14]

Conservation status[edit]

This species is classified as Least Concern (LC) according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (v3.1, 2001). So listed due to its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

However, subspecies V. a. aspis is categorized as Critically Endangered in Switzerland, V. a. atra is categorized as Vulnerable, and V. a. francisciredi is categorized as Endangered.[1][15][16]

In general, the species is also listed as protected (Appendix III) under the Berne Convention.[17]

Habitat[edit]

V. a. aspis

This species has a few clearly defined and relatively specific habitat requirements. It needs warm areas that are exposed to the sun, structured vegetation and comparatively dry soils. In Italy and France, it is often found in areas with low mountains or hills, notably in limestone regions, but sometimes occurs in lower plains. It has a preference for vegetated areas or environments with at least some cover.[5] Here it can be found on sunny slopes, on scrublands, in glades, in mountain meadows, forest clearings, at the borders of woods, in rubbish dumps and in stone quarries.[7] In Italy, it occurs in mesic chestnut/oak woodlands and often near streams.[5] Although it is not strongly associated with high altitudes, it has been found at well over 2,100 m (6,900 ft) above sea level in the Pyrenees.[18]

Venom[edit]

A bite from this species can be more severe than from V. berus and is very painful. According to Stemmler (1971), about 4% of all untreated bites are fatal.[19] Lombardi and Bianco (1974) mention that this species is responsible for 90% of all cases of snakebite in Italy and it is the only mortal snake in Italian mountains.[7]

The toxicity of the venom varies. Stemmler (1971) states that the population in Passwang district, Switzerland have the strongest venom based on studies conducted on mice.[19] Compared to venoms from other species, it is relatively toxic. Brown (1973) gives LD50 values of 1.0 mg/kg IV and 1.0–2.0 mg/kg SC.[20] Tu et al. (1969) report 4.7 mg/kg IM.[21] Venom yield is relatively low. Boquet (1964) reported a daily extraction figure of 9–10 mg.[22]

Envenomation symptoms include rapidly spreading acute pain, followed by edema and discoloration. Severe haemorrhagic necrosis may occur within a few hours. Vision may be severely impaired, most likely due to degradation of blood and blood vessels in the eyes. The venom has both coagulant and anticoagulant effects. The venom may also affect glomerular structure, which can lead to death due to renal failure.[5]

According to Cheymol et al. (1973), the venom does not affect neuromuscular contractions in in vitro preparations.[23] Lack of this neurotoxic affect would indicate that fatal cases involving the cardiovascular system are the result of direct muscle injury or reduced oxygen exchange. On the other hand, Gonzalez (1991) reported that in two cases the victims developed neurotoxic symptoms, including difficulty in breathing and swallowing, as well as paralysis of the bitten limbs.[24]

Subspecies[edit]

Subspecies[9]Taxon author[9]Common name[10]Geographic range[5]
V. aspis aspis(Linnaeus, 1758)European aspFound in most of France, except those areas bordering the English Channel. On the Atlantic coast, it is found in Île de Ré, Lorraine and Oléron, but not south of the Gironde estuary. Mostly absent east of the Moselle River and from much of the Mediterranean region, but does occur near Montpellier and in Alpes-Maritimes. A disjunct subpopulation exists in the Pyrenees, notably in Spain southwest of Bilbao. In Germany it occurs in the southern Black Forest along the Swiss border, but is rare in this area. Common in northwestern Italy and western Switzerland.
V. aspis atraMeisner, 1820Black aspParts of Switzerland
V. aspis franciscirediLaurenti, 1768Central Italian aspCentral Italy
V. aspis hugyiSchinz, 1833Southern Italian aspThe south of Italy
V. aspis zinnikeriKramer, 1958Gascony aspGascony, Andorra and nearby Spain

Gallery[edit]

A Vipera aspis eating a lizard, Toscana, Italy

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Claudia Corti, Juan M. Pleguezuelos, Valentin Pérez-Mellado, Rafael Marquez, Marc Cheylan, Philippe Geniez, Ulrich Joger, Hans Konrad Nettmann, Benedikt Schmidt, Andreas Meyer, Roberto Sindaco, Antonio Romano & Iñigo Martínez-Solano (2009). "Vipera aspis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  2. ^ The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
  3. ^ Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume III., Containing the...Viperidæ. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, Printers.) London. xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I.- XXV. (Vipera aspis, pp. 481-485.)
  4. ^ a b 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).
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida. 359 pp. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  6. ^ a b Vipera aspis at Munich AntiVenom INdex
  7. ^ a b c d e f Street D. 1979. The Reptiles of Northern and Central Europe. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd. 268 pp. ISBN 0-7134-1374-3.
  8. ^ Gotch AF. 1986. Reptiles – Their Latin Names Explained. Poole, UK: Blandford Press. 176 pp. ISBN 0-7137-1704-1.
  9. ^ a b c "Vipera aspis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 13 August 2006. 
  10. ^ a b Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  11. ^ U.S. Navy. 1991. Poisonous Snakes of the World. US Govt. New York: Dover Publications Inc. 203 pp. ISBN 0-486-26629-X.
  12. ^ Kwet A. 2005. Reptilien und Amphibien Europas. Stuttgart: Franck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. 252 pp. ISBN 3-440-10237-8.
  13. ^ Uitheemse adder in Portugaal at Reptielenzoo "Serpo". Accessed 17 October 2006.
  14. ^ Giftige slangen gesignaleerd in valckesteynse bos at Staatsbosbeheer. Accessed 17 October 2006.
  15. ^ 2001 Categories & Criteria (version 3.1) at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 2 September 2007.
  16. ^ Monney JC, Meyer A. 2005. Rote Liste der gefährdeten Reptilien der Schweiz. Hrsg. Bundesamt für Umwelt, Wald und Landschaft BUWAL, Bern und Koordinationsstelle für Amphibien- und Reptilienschutz der Schweiz, Bern. BUWAL-Reihe. 50 pp.
  17. ^ Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Appendix III at Council of Europe. Accessed 9 October 2006.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ a b Stemmler O. 1971. Die Reptilien der Schweiz mit besonderer Berucksichtigung der Basler Region. Veroff Nat Mus Basel, Number 5.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Tu, Anthony T., Manabu Homma & Bor-Shyue Hong (1969). "Hemorrhagic, myonecrotic, thrombotic and proteolytic activities of viper venoms". Toxicon 6 (3): 175–178. doi:10.1016/0041-0101(69)90117-2. PMID 5776833. 
  22. ^ Boquet P (1964). "Venins de serpents (1ere partie) physio-pathologie de l'envenimation et proprietes biologiques des venins". Toxicon (in French) 2 (1): 5–41. doi:10.1016/0041-0101(64)90028-5. 
  23. ^ Cheymol J, Boquet P, Detrait J, Roch-Arveller M (1973). "Comparaison des principales propriétés pharmacologiques de différents venins d'Echis carinatus (Vipéridés)" [Comparison of the principal pharmacologic properties of different venoms of Echis carinatus (Viperidae)]. Archives Internationales de Pharmacodynamie et de Therapie 205 (2): 293–304. 
  24. ^ Gonzalez D (1991). "Snakebite problems in Europe". In Tu AT. Handbook of Natural Toxins (5th ed.). New York: Marcel Dekker. pp. 687–751. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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 aspis, pp. 218–219 + Plates 39-40 + Map 123.)
  • Boulenger GA. 1913. The Snakes of Europe. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd. xi + 269 pp. + Plates I.- XIV. (Vipera aspis, pp. 239–246, Figure 36, Plate XIII.)
  • Phisalix M. 1968. La livrée des vipères de France (d'apres des notes manuscrites inédites). Bull Mus. Nat. Hist., Paris 40: 661-676.
  • Zuffi, Marco A.L. 2002. A critique of the systematic position of the asp viper subspecies Vipera aspis aspis (Linnaeus, 1758), Vipera aspis atra Meisner, 1820, Vipera aspis francisciredi Laurent, 1768, Vipera aspis hugyi Schinz, 1833 and Vipera aspis zinnikeri Kramer, 1958. Amphibia-Reptilia 23 (2): 191-213.
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