Macrovipera lebetina

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Macrovipera lebetina
Blunt-nosed viper, M. l. turanica
Blunt-nosed viper, M. l. turanica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Macrovipera
Species: M. lebetina
Binomial name
Macrovipera lebetina
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • [Coluber] Lebetinus - Linnaeus, 1758
  • Vipera lebetina - Daudin, 1803
  • Vipera Euphratica - Martin, 1838
  • Daboia Euphratica - Gray, 1849
  • V[ipera]. (Echidna) lebetina - Jan, 1863
  • Vipera lebethina - De Filippi, 1865
  • Vipera lebetina - Boulenger, 1896
  • Macrovipera lebetina - Reuss, 1927
  • Vipera lebetina lebetina - Mertens & Müller, 1928
  • Vipera lebetina euphratica - Schmidt, 1939
  • Vipera libertina - Roitman, 1967
  • Vipera lebetina - Elter, 1981
  • Daboia (Daboia) lebetina lebetina - Obst, 1983
  • Daboia lebetina - Engelmann et al., 1985
  • Vipera lebetina cypriensis - Schätti & Sigg, 1989
  • Daboia (Vipera) lebetina - Radspieler & Schweiger, 1990
  • Macrovipera lebetina - Herrmann, Joger & Nilson, 1992[1]

Common names: blunt-nosed viper, Lebetine viper, Levant viper,[2] Levantine viper,[3] more.

Macrovipera lebetina is a venomous viper species found in North Africa, much of the Middle East, and as far east as Kashmir. Five subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate race described here.[4]


This is a large snake, with females reaching 214 cm in length and males growing to a similar size. However, sizes vary between different populations, with M. l. lebetina being somewhat smaller.[2]

The head is broad, triangular and distinct from the neck. The snout is rounded and blunt when viewed from above, which is why it is also called the blunt-nosed viper. The nasal and nasorostral scales are almost completely fused into a single plate, although some variation occurs.[2]

The dorsal scales are strongly keeled, except for those bordering the ventrals. M. l. lebetina usually has 146-163 ventral scales. The anal scale is single.[2]

The color pattern is less varied than one might expect from a species that is so widely distributed. The head is normally uniformly colored, although it can occasionally be marked with a dark V-shape. Dorsally, the ground color for the body can be gray, brown, beige, pinkish, olive or khaki. The pattern, if present, is darker, can be gray, bluish, rust or brown in color, and may consist of a middorsal row or double row of large spots. When two rows are present, the spots may alternate or oppose, which can produce anything from a saddled to a continuous zigzag pattern. The spots are usually brown, dark gray or black, but are sometimes red, brick, yellow or olive in color.[2]

Common names

Blunt-nosed viper, Lebetine viper, Levant viper,[2] Levantine viper,[3], Kufi or Kufi viper (from Arabic), Gjursa (Russian).[2]

Geographic range

Dagestan, Algeria, Tunisia, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Russian Caucasia, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhistan, Tadzikhistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir. At one point there was also a report of this species from Yemen by Scortecci (1929). The type locality originally given was "Oriente." Mertens and Müller (1928) suggested restricting the range to "Cypern" (Cyprus).[1]

Conservation status

This species is listed as strictly protected (Appendix II) under the Berne Convention.[5]


Subspecies[4] Authority[4] Geographic range[2]
M. l. cernovi (Chikin & Szczerbak, 1992) Northeast Iran, southern Turkmenistan, parts of northern Afghanistan and Pakistan (Kashmir).
M. l. lebetina (Linnaeus, 1758) Cyprus
M. l. obtusa (Dwigubsky, 1832) Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, north Jordan, Caucasus (incl. Armenia), Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Iran, southern Afghanistan, Pakistan, north India (Kashmir)
M. l. transmediterranea (Nilson & Andrén, 1988) Algeria, Tunisia
M. l. turanica (Cernov, 1940) Eastern Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, southwestern Kazakhstan, parts of northern Afghanistan and western Pakistan


This species is currently subject to review. It is likely that certain subspecies will soon be elevated to valid species status. The nominate subspecies was restricted to Cyprus in 1928 by Mertens and Müller and so does not actually occur in the Levant region.[2]

The populations found in southern Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India (Kashmir), are sometimes referred to as a separate subspecies: M. l. peilei. These normally have semidivided supraoculars.[2]

Vipera Euphratica was originally used to refer to the populations that occur in the Euphrates river basin of Turkey, Syria and Iraq. It was synonymized with M. l. obtusa in several publications, including Joger (1984).[2] However, Golay et al. (1993) include it in the synonymy of M. l. lebetina.[1]

See also

Cited references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida. 359 pp. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Species Macrovipera lebetina at the Species2000 Database
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Macrovipera lebetina (TSN 634977). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Accessed on 9 August 2006.
  5. Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Appendix II at Council of Europe. Accessed 9 October 2006.

Other references

  • Al-Oran R, Rostum S, Joger U, Amr Z. 1998. First record of the Levantine Viper, Macrovipera lebetina, from Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East. Heidelberg 16: 65-70.
  • Boulenger GA. 1887. List of reptiles and batrachians from Cyprus. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (5) 20: 344-345.
  • Boulenger GA. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis, London, xviii, 541 pp.
  • Golay P, Smith HM, Broadley DG, Dixon JR, McCarthy. Golray P, Schatti J-C, Toriba M. 1993. Endoglyphs and Other Major Venomous Snakes of the World: A Checklist. New York: Springer-Verlag. 393 pp.
  • Herrmann HW, Joger U, Lenk P, Wink M. 1999. Morphological and molecular phylogenies of viperines: conflicting evidence? Kaupia (Darmstadt) (8): 21-30.

External links