Kashmir rock agama | Laudakia tuberculata Gray, 1827

Kashmir rock agama | Laudakia tuberculata Gray, 1827   Kashmir rock agama is a species of lizard that belong to family agamidae which i...

Indian Saw-Scaled Viper | Echis carinatus, Schneider, 1801

Echis carinatus, Saw scaled viper, Indian saw scaled viper


Echis carinatus is a venomous species of snakes under family Viperidae which is commonly known Indian saw-scaled viper. This snake species is found in the Middle East, Central Asia and especially within the Indian subcontinent. Echis carinatus is one of the member of big four snakes, and is the smallest of all that are accountable for causing the maximum number of snakebite deaths because of their frequent occurrences in highly populated as well as rural areas and their inconspicuous nature. The venom type of the species is haemotoxic.

Echis carinatus, Maharashtra, India (Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org)

There are five subspecies of current genus which are currently documented viz., E. c. astolae (Mertens, 1970); E. c. carinatus (Schneider, 1801); E. c. multisquamatus (Cherlin, 1981); E. c. sinhaleyus (Deraniyagala, 1951); E. c. sochureki (Stemmler, 1969).

Scientific classification
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Reptilia
Order:
Squamata
Suborder:
Serpentes
Family:
Viperidae
Genus:
Species:
E. carinatus
Echis carinatus (Schneider, 1801)

Saw Scaled Viper can be easily identified by careful observation on parched body covered with very rough keeled scales having light colored round spots over the dorsal surface which are bordered by two lines running from head towards the posterior side. The maximum length attained by the adult species is 80 cm but it can vary depending on the geographical region, where as the average length of the species is documented about 30 cm. The juveniles of the species range b/w 6-8 cm. The head of this species is triangular having small keeled scales and is broader than neck. There is an arrow shaped of white spot is present on top of head. Eyes are large having vertical pupil.

Echis carinatus, Bannerghatta, India (Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org)

Dorsally the body of the species is short and robust covered under highly keeled scales. The color may vary between gray, light red and reddish-brown to light or dark brown. On the ventral side the belly color is white having brown or blackish spots on all the ventral scales. Sub caudal scales are undivided. Tail is short having pointed tip covered by keeled scales.
Scalation of the species is as: 10-12 upper labials (4th largest); 10-15 small sized scales around the eyes; 3-4 scales b/w nasal & eyes; 8-12 scales b/w supraoculars. Dorsal scales in rows 25-29/27-37/21-27; diagonally arranged scales in 4-7 rows (responsible for saw like sound). Ventral scales are 143-189 whereas subcaudals 21-52 (undivided). The anal scale is single.
The species is recorded as endemic to Asia and distribution is as; India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, in Oman, Masirah (Island), eastern United Arab Emirates, Iraq, southwestern Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tadzhikistan. In Indian mainland it is distributed throughout the country viz., western parts of west Bengal, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Daman & Diu, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand.

Echis carinatus, Maharashtra, India (Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org)

It is found in moderate elevation and plains.  The species has a habitat distribution ranging from deserts to semi-deserts, rainforest to scrub forest, mixed to dry forest & moist deciduous forest, from grassland to dry open lands, agricultural field to open plains, caves to rocky terrain, it can been found hiding inside holes, mounds, caves, piles ,cracks, leaf litters, rocks, scrubs, grass etc.
This species is of nocturnal nature which means it remains active at nights for foraging and other crucial life activities though can be found during day time basking. Locomotion is usually slow and employs side winding motion to crawl.
It is one of the fastest striking snake species which take less than a second to bite and come back to its original site. While on provocation it coils its body & keeps the head on front side. Mating occurs in winters where new born can be seen by April through August. Reproduction is ovoviviparous, which means females of the species gives birth to 3-15 young individuals directly. The maximum size of litter was recorded is 23 (Mallow et al., 2003).
The snake feeds on variety of organisms such as; rodents, lizards, frogs, arthropods like scorpion, centipedes etc., and other large insects.
The main threat of the species is habitat loss despite the fact that they are quite well adapted themselves to live in the overlooked lands and rocky topography. Besides killing because of its venom strength and road kill are the other chief causes.

Literature Cited:

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Branford, H. (1913). Recovery from bite of Echis carinata. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., 23: 378 - get paper here
Carranza, S., Xipell, M., Tarroso, P., Gardner, A., Arnold, E.N., and Robinson M.D. (2018). Diversity, distribution and conservation of the terrestrial reptiles of Oman (Sauropsida, Squamata). Plos One, 13 (2): e0190389 - get paper here
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Leviton, A.E. (1959). Report on a collection of reptiles from Afghanistan. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci., 29 (12): 445-463 - get paper here
Major, F.F (1918). Exceptionally large Saw Scaled Viper (Echis carinata). J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., 25: 308 - get paper here
Manhas, A., Rajni, R., and Ashwani W. (2018). Reptilian diversity of the Bhopal Region in the State of Madhya Pradesh in central India. IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians, 25 (2): 104–114 - get paper here
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Rhadi, F.A., Rastegar-Pouyani, N., Karamiani, R., Mohammed, R.G. (2015). First record and range extension of Saw Scaled Viper, Echis carinatus sochureki Stemmler, 1969 (Squamata: Viperidae), from AL-Basra, Southern Iraq. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, 9 (2): 6–9 - get paper here
Russell, P. (1796). An account of Indian serpents collected on the coast of Coromandel, containing descriptions and drawings of each species, together with experiments and remarks on their several poisons. George Nicol, London, 90 pp. - get paper here
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PerSonaLife: Indian Saw-Scaled Viper | Echis carinatus, Schneider, 1801
Indian Saw-Scaled Viper | Echis carinatus, Schneider, 1801
Echis carinatus, Saw scaled viper, Indian saw scaled viper
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