What is a Saw-Scaled Viper?

Jacob Queen

The saw-scaled viper is a small, venomous snake that’s particularly known to inhabit India, but can also be found in many areas of the Middle East region. On average, these snakes are about 19-inches (50 cm) long, with some a little larger and some a little smaller. They are primarily light brown in color with a pattern of triangular white markings. The "saw scaled" part of their name comes from the way they warn before attacking. The snakes twist into a position so that they can rub their scales together, which produces a sound, and at the same time, they hiss loudly.

The venom from a saw-scaled viper bite may cause necrosis in the affected area.
The venom from a saw-scaled viper bite may cause necrosis in the affected area.

These snakes are known for being extremely dangerous, and some experts think they are the most dangerous snakes in Asia. They have a venom that causes internal hemorrhaging, which can spread from the area around the bite into the organs. The venom also has the potential to cause a condition called necrosis, which basically means that the area around the bite starts to rot. Many people bitten by a saw-scaled viper may also get large blisters around the bite, and some will suffer from vomiting. Without treatment, some people will die from this venom within a day, but it can also gradually damage a person over a week or more.

One of the reasons for the extreme danger from the saw-scaled viper is the snake's temperament, which leads to many more bites than the average snake administers. Most experts say the snakes will attack without much hesitation, and they generally live in areas that put them in frequent contact with people. Humans will sometimes accidentally stumble into these snakes while walking outside in the dark, and they get bitten before they have time to react.

The natural prey of the saw-scaled viper is usually rodents and other small animals. Their population numbers are considered fairly strong, so they have a big role in their ecosystem in terms of keeping rodent populations under control. They generally hunt at night, and that is also when many attacks on humans occur.

These snakes generally prefer to live in dessert environments, but they can also be found in other kinds of areas. During the day when they are hiding from the heat of the sun, they usually spend time living under leaves or rocks. They give birth to live young, with an average of five to seven infant snakes in a given breeding season.

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