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The dangerously venomous Russell's Viper (Daboia russelii) is one of several species in the genus Daboia, which includes one or two North African species (mauritanica, deserti) formery included in Macrovipera, the Levantine D. palaestinae (formerly Vipera palaestinae), and the South Asian (Daboia russelii), which reaches the Middle East only peripherally in Pakistan. Daboia is characterized by a raised numbers of body scales. (Stümpel and Joger 2009 and references therein)

According to Leviton et al. (2003), Russell's Viper (Daboia russelii) occurs in Myanmar (Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Sagaing , and Yangon Divisions and Shan State), as well as southern China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Indonesia (Java east to Lomblen Island [=Lembata]). This species has not been recorded from Malaysia or Sumatra.. It primarily inhabits lowland areas. Thorpe et al. (2007) studied the phylogeography of Russell's Viper (using a combination of mitochondrial genetic data, morphometrics, and color pattern) and concluded that two distinct species should be recognized: D. russelii throughout South Asia, west of the Bay of Bengal, and D. siamensis in Southeast Asia, east of the Bay of Bengal.

In Myanmar, Russell's Vipers are common throughout the central dry zone and Ayeyarwady (= Irrawaddy) Delta, where they are often encountered in agricultural areas and paddies as well as in open grasslands.  These snakes are active at night.

This may be the most common of the dangerously venomous snakes in southern Asia, where it accounts for more than half of all reported snakebites. Hiremath et al. (2014) note that Russell's Viper is one of the four snake species long believed to account for the large majority of snakebite cases in India, often known as "the Big Four"--the other three species being another viper, Saw-scaled Viper (Echis carinatus), and two elapids, Indian Cobra (Naja naja) and Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) (with bites from other dangerously venomous snakes such as King Cobra, Ophiophagus hannah, being relatively rare). Hiremath et al. compare the impacts of the venoms of these four types of snakes on blood coagulation. (Note, however, that Simpson et al [2007] have argued that the "Big Four" concept has resulted in significantly misdirected epidemiological and treatment efforts, e.g., through the misdiagnosis of envenomations actually attributable to the Hump-nosed Pit Viper (Hypnale hypnale). Hung et al. (2002) reviewed Russel's Viper snakebites in Taiwan and noted that symptoms appear to differ from those reported from some other parts of Asia.

Several color pattern variants have been recognized as subspecies:  D. r. siamensis from southern China, central and southern Myanmar, and central Thailand; D. r. formosensis from eastern China and Taiwan; and the nominate form from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Its unusual distribution (eespecially its erratic distribution in Indonesia) suggests that it has been moved over long distances in the course of commercial exchange, likely during the 18th and 19th centuries. Russell’s Viper is a prolific breeder and young could plausibly have been moved along with plants or other goods in the early days of colonial expansion.

Although this species was named in honor of Patrick Russell, the original description used just one “l” in the specific epithet, which Leviton et al. (2003) therefore consider to be the correct spelling. Mallow et al. (2003) provide additional information on this species.

(Leviton et al. 2003 and references therein)

Kularatne et al. (2014a) reported on the problem of Russell's Viper snakebites in Sri Lanka, including a discussion of diagnosis and treatment.

Tun-Pe et al. (1995) studied the properties of the venom of Russell’s Vipers of varying ages.

Kavitha et al. (2014a) reported on the presence of Sparganum cestode larvae parasitizing two Russell's Vipers in southern India. Kavitha et al. (2014b) reported the presence of Kalicephalus hookworms (Nematoda: Diaphanocephalidae) in the stomach and intestine of a captive Russell's Viper.

Patel and Tank (2014) describe both the typical body coloration, as well as that of a rare whitish color morph.

Leviton et al. (2003) provide a technical description of Russell's Viper: No sensory pit between nostril and eye. Head very distinct from neck, above covered by small, keeled, imbricate scales, 6-9 between narrow supraoculars; nostril large, in large nasal shield which, below is fused to the rostral; eye, with vertically elliptic pupil, is surrounded by 10-15 small scales, 3-4 rows of small scales separating  the circumocular scales from the upper labials; temporals small; 10-12 upper labials; 27-33 longitudinal rows of scales at midbody, all except outermost row strongly keeled; ventrals 153-180; subcaudals 41-64, all paired; color above light brown with three longitudinal series  of large black-margined brown spots or blotches, the vertebral series often merging to form a chain-like longitudinal strip, occasionally an additional longitudinal series of small dark spots between the vertebral and lateral series. Yellowish white below occasionally with dark brown markings. Total length to 1600 mm not uncommon.


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