Russell's viper

Daboia russelli


This species possesses rough and keeled scales. Entire body has three longitudinal series of brown or yellowish brown oval spots from head to tail tip. Spots may have cream colored margins, pointed ends or may join to form chain like pattern. In Mangalore, a variety was recorded where color was very reddish brown and patterns were indistinct or altogether absent. Triangular head which is broader than neck.Large visible nostrils.Vertical pupil.  Top portion of head possesses Ë� shaped mark with ovular or triangular shaped markings.Two dark triangular streaks can be observed below eye.


Scales in 25-29: 27-33: 21-23 rows; ventrals 153-180; subcaudals 41-64, paired. Canthus rostralis distinct; nostril very large; supranasal crescentic.

Habitat and Reproduction

They can be found in open grassy areas, scrub jungle, forest edges, and rocky hillocks. Feeds on rodents and birds.This species is ovoviviparous that is live bearer. The young are born in May to November and peak season is June-July. Gestation period exceeds 6 months. They are prolific breeders. Female gives birth to young ones, a litter comprised of approximately 6-63 or on average 30-40 individuals.

Bite and Venom

Russell’s viper is one of the Big four snakes in India. Their fangs are the largest of the Indian vipers; average size is 16mm (more than three times of saw scaled viper fangs). The species have two fangs in a side with reserve fangs. Due to their distributional variation across large geographical regions the effectsof venom are observed to be different. Venom of Russell’s viper bite possesses hemotoxic and neurotoxic properties. When provoked or threatened they produce hissing sound which resembles whistle of pressure cooker. Its venom affects by depressing the vasomotor center and destroys red blood corpuscles. Venom reduces blood clotting ability that leads to internalhemorrhages and profuse bleeding from body orifices.


It has records from entire India up to 2756m elevation. It has distribution over a wide range of habitatsand usually found near rocky places. Their habitat, ranges from deciduous forests to urban settlements. Russell’s viper is part of BIG four species and responsible for one of the maximum snake bites in Chhattisgarh as well as in other parts of India. Also recorded from Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and parts of Southeast Asia (Myanmar, Thailand).



Its rough bite and significant effect of its venom made it vulnerable to humans. Demand of its skin as well as its venom poses serious threat to these species along with habitat loss and road kills.

Important Tags

Russellâs viperViperidae Daboia russelli

Russell's viper
Scientific Name
Daboia russelli
Ghonas, Jodharra Ajgar, Juda Mahamandal
Venom Type
Look Like
Young Indian rock python and Common sand boa


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