English Name : Russell’s Viper
Scientific Name : Daboia russelii
Family : Viperidae
Tamil Name : Kannadi Viriyan
Description: This is a beautiful snake which is brown or yellowish body in coloration. Triangular head broader than neck. It has strongly keeled very large nostrils. Eyes have vertical pupil. There are a series of brown or black oval spots which form a chain like appearance on the body. The spots may have joined ends.
Distribution and status: It is found throughout India even up to a height of 2756m above sea level. Common in the Indian sub continent.
Habitat: They are usually nocturnal found in open grassy areas, scrub jungles, forest edges, rocky hillocks, dense thorny hedge grows and in and around mangroves. They measures close to 1 m in length. Thet are at home in the arid regions as in hilly areas. In very hot weather they are found in termite mounds and rat holes.
Habits: Though they look sluggish they are capable of quick moments in short spurts. One of the big four medicinally important venomous snake more deaths are caused by this snake more than a cobra. Bites happen in the night when a person steps on snake accidentally. The only cure is anti venom serum available in India.
Food: Young are cannibalistic and will prey on snakes, lizards. Mice and land crabs. Adults are rat eaters and feed on rodents such as the Gerbil.
Life cycle: Females give birth to 6- 63 live young in May and July. When disturbed coils around and hisses loudly and bites only as a last resort. Young are exact replicas of their parents. Young resemble saw scaled vipers though it has different scalation.
Role in the ecosystem: Venom from Russells vipers are used in medical research. They are top predators feeding on vermin of crops like rats.
Photo source: Dr.J. Subramanean