Saw- Scaled Viper

Echis carinatus


Small keeled scales. Head distinctly broader than head. Large eye with vertical pupil. Tail is short and thin. Body is basically light, dark brown, brick red gray or sand colored with zigzag patterns on back. Arrow marking is prominent on the top of the head. Underside white speckled with brown. Different color forms exist.

Length:1ft to maximum 2.7ft


Scales in 25 to 29: 27 to 37:21 to 27 rows. 4-7b lowest body scale rows (adjacent to ventals) oblique, with serrated keels. Ventrals 132-185; entire; anal entire or divided; subcaudals 23-39, entire. Supralabials 10-12. 

Habitat and Reproduction:

They can be found in open dry, sandy or rocky terrain in the plains and hills, and also in open rocky regions of heavy rainfall. Feeds on mice, lizards, scorpions and insects. As the other vipers this species is also an ovoviviparous. Saw scaled viper females bear 4-8 live young between April-August. Female may produces 2 clutches a year.

Bite and Venom

Fangs are comparably long; 5mm (1.31 % of the body size) in size. When provoked, it produces sound by rubbing its keels to surfaces and pose threat. Their venom appeared to be hemotoxic. Saw scaled viper venom is 5 times toxic as toxic as cobra venom and sixteen times as toxic as Russell’s viper venom. It affects directly on cardiac muscles. The blood cells are destroyed and hemorrhage occurs eventually. Death occurs due to weak pulse, low pressure and finally heart failure.    


Saw scaled viper is recorded from entire India except West Bengal and North-eastern states. Commonly found from the Deccan regions of India and also recorded from Chhattisgarh. Except India they are recorded from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Srilanka, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E), Oman, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. They are observed in desert, semi desert and broken scrub country habitats.



Requirement of its venom and killing by human, are some of the threats to this species. 

Important Tags

Saw- Scaled ViperViperidae Echis carinatus

Saw- Scaled Viper
Scientific Name
Echis carinatus
Venom Type
Look Like
Common cat snake, sand boa


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