- Common names: Palaearctic vipers, Eurasian vipers.
Vipera is a genus of venomous vipers. It has a very wide range, being found from North Africa to just within the Arctic Circle and from Great Britain to Pacific Asia. The name is possibly derived from the Latin words vivus and pario, meaning "alive" and "bear" or "bring forth"; likely a reference to the fact that most vipers bear live young. Currently, 23 species are recognized.
Members are usually small and more or less stoutly built. The head is distinct from the neck, of triangular shape, and covered with small scales in many species, although some have a few small plates on top. The dorsal scales are strongly keeled, the anal scale is divided and the subcaudals paired.
They can be found in Great Britain and nearly all of continental Europe, on some small islands of the Mediterranean (Elba, Montecristo, Sicily) and the Aegean Sea, as well as in northern Africa in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. It also occurs across the Arctic Circle and eastwards though northern Asia to Sakhalin Island and northern Korea.
Most species prefer cooler environments. Those found at lower latitudes tend to prefer higher altitudes and dryer, rocky habitats, while the species that occur at more northern latitudes prefer lower elevations and environments that have more vegetation and moisture.
All species are terrestrial.
All members are viviparous, giving birth to live young.
Most Vipera species have venom that contains both neurotoxic and hemotoxic components. Bites vary widely in severity. Smaller, northern species, such as V. berus, have only slightly less toxic venom, but inject very little. Others, such as V. ammodytes, are capable of injecting much more with devastating results. However, bites from Vipera species are rarely as severe as those from larger Macrovipera or Daboia.
* Not including the nominate subspecies. T: type species
- List of viperine species and subspecies
- Viperinae by common name
- Viperinae by taxonomic synonyms
- 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. (Genus Vipera, pp. 211, 214.)
- Boulenger GA. 1896. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume II., Containing the...ViperidÃ¦. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers.) xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I.- XXV. (Genus Vipera, pp. 471-472.)
- Laurenti JN. 1768. Specimen medicum, exhibens synopsin reptilium emendatam cum experimentis circa venena et antidota reptilium austriacorum. Vienna: "Joan. Thom. Nob. de Trattern". 214 pp. + Plates I.- V. (Genus Vipera, p. 99.)
- Vipera at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 6 August 2007.
- Vipera at Herpbreeder.com. Accessed 6 August 2007.