English Name : Saw scaled viper
Scientific Name : Echis carinatus
Tamil Name: Sooratai pambu
Description: It has a body that is short and stout with keeled scales that give it a saw like appearance. It has large vertical eye pupils. An arrow headed mark is present on top of the head. Several different color forms exist. It varies in length from 3 cm to 5cm.
Distribution and status: It is found throughout mainly land and absent in West Bengal. It is mostly found in open dry, sandy or rocky terrain in the plains and hills, and also in open, rocky regions of heavy rainfall. It is common in its range
Habitats: It rests under rocks, behind bark, at the base of thorny plants during the day.
Habits It can climb well. It frequents warm road or paths at night. Its movement is fast by side winding. It is mainly nocturnal but was found to bask in the morning sun. When alarmed, inflates lung and rubs saw edged scales together to make a rasping sound. Quick to strike when provoked Venom is very toxic and is one India’s Big Four Venomous Snake. Venom sometimes takes 2-3 days to take action. Bites should be immediately treated with anti venom serum
Food: Feeds on mice, lizards, frogs, scorpions and insects.
Life cycle: It bears 4-8 live young between April – August.
Role in the environment: Though small in size the venom is toxic and the only cure for a potent bite is the antivenom serum prepared by Haffkine Institute Bombay.
Photo source: Dr.J. Subramanean