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a genus of venomous snakes of the family Viperidae. Scales on the sides of the body, which form a toothed rib, rub against each other, making a sound similar to water hissing on a very hot stove. The tail is short. The genus embraces two species: E. carinatus and E. colorata.

E. carinatus is found in Africa north of the equator, in South and Southwest Asia as far east as the Ganges and as far south as Sri Lanka, and in Middle Asia. The coloration is grayish or brownish, with dark-edged zigzag bands. There is a light cross-shaped pattern on the head. The body measures 80 cm in length. The snake lives in sandy and clay deserts. It is active at dusk and night. Adults eat small vertebrates, and the young feed primarily on insects, arachnids, and myriopods. An ovoviviparus snake, it bears three to 18 offspring, which measure as much as 16 cm long at birth. The snake is extremely poisonous. Cases of human deaths resulting from the bite of echis snakes have been recorded, but usually the victims become well in a week or two.

E. colorata is found on the Arabian Peninsula, in Egypt, and in Palestine.

References in periodicals archive ?
From the description of the snake and the fact that it was venomous, it is likely that it was a saw-scaled viper," he said.
The saw-scaled viper rubs its scales together and makes a hissing sound when it feels endangered.
Just days after the county was rocked by reports of a lion stalking coastal caravan sites, a lethal and aggressive saw-scaled viper turned up at Tilbury Docks.
Volunteers from the South Essex Wildlife Hospital found the saw-scaled viper curled up in the corner of a giant shipping container that had arrived at Tilbury Docks from India, the Daily Mail reported.
The saw-scaled viper is the smallest member of the Big Four snakes which are responsible for causing the most snakebite cases and deaths.
This is particularly relevant in the case of saw-scaled vipers, which are probably responsible for the majority of snakebite deaths in Africa.
The mouse antibodies attached to venom not only from saw-scaled vipers but also from several other African viper species, such as horned vipers and puff adders, that share many metalloprotease genes, says Wagstaff.
He also underscores the fact that African hospitals still rely on imported anti-venom from Asia, where the saw-scaled vipers have a very different venom composition.