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Atractaspis engaddensis HAAS, 1950

IUCN Red List - Atractaspis engaddensis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaAtractaspididae (Atractaspidinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Israeli Mole Viper 
SynonymAtractaspis engaddensis HAAS 1950
Atractaspis engaddensis — SCHMIDT & MARX 1956: 36
Atractaspis microlepidota engaddensis LEVITON & ALDRICH 1984
Atractaspis engaddensis — LEVITON et al. 1992: 109
Atractaspis engaddensis — WELCH 1994: 23
Atractaspis engaddensis — VENCHI & SINDACO 2006
Atractaspis engaddensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 65
Atractaspis microlepidota engaddensis — ALSHAMMARI & IBRAHIM 2016
Atractaspis engaddensis — BAR et al. 2021 
DistributionIsrael, Sinai, Jordan, SW/C Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia

Type locality: “En-Geddi on the western side of the Dead Sea”  
TypesHolotype: HUJ (Hebrew University), paraypes: Hebrew University 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Dorsal scales in 27-29 rows at midbody; ventrals 264-282; subcaudals 32-40; nasal divided in lower half only. (Leviton et al. 1992)

Additional specimens (2 females) from Sinai. “The dorsal scale rows at mid-body are respectively 29 and 28. The ventrals are 282 and 275; caudals 34 and 36. The anal is entire. The number of the upper labials is 6, the fourth the largest and entering the orbit. The arrangement of the temporals is variable, the lower first temporal being greatly enlarged and wedged between the fourth and fifth labials. There are either two or three anterior temporals, and the next row varies from three to four. The lower labials are normally 10; in no. 131439 two small labials are cut off from the usual first labial, one on one side and one on the other; thus there is one additional false chinshield anterior to the true enlarged chinshields. These two specimens measure total length 619 mm., tail 41 mm. and total length 685 mm., tail 49 mm.” [SCHMIDT & MARX 1956].  

Synonymy: Possible junior synonym of A. microlepidota andersonii Boulenger 1905 (ARNOLD 1980).

Diet: rodents (75%), lizards 15% (Geckos and worm lizards), small snakes (7%) and unidentified materials (3%) (Al-Sadoon et al. 2020).

Distribution: For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013 and Bar et al. 2021. 
Etymologynamed after the type locality. 
  • Al-Quran, S. 2009. The Herpetofauna of the Southern Jordan. American-Eurasian J. Agric. & Environ. Sci., 6 (4): 385-391 [this journal has a dubious record, see]
  • Al-Sadoon, Mohammed Khalid; Bilal Ahamad Paray, Hassan A. Rudayni, Abdul Rahman Al-Mfarij, Mohammed Fahad Albeshr 2020. Seasonal food composition of a mole viper, Atractaspis engaddensis haas, 1950 from natural habitats of an arid arabian desert. Journal of King Saud University - Science, - get paper here
  • Aloufi, Abdulhadi A.; Zuhair S. Amr, Mohammad A. Abu Baker 2021. Reptiles and Amphibians of Al Madinah Al Munawwarah Province, Saudi Arabia. Russian Journal of Herpetology 28 (3): 1 - get paper here
  • Alshammari, A. M. and Busais, S. M. 2020. Distribution of snakes in Ha’il Province, Saudi Arabia, with an identification key to the species. Russian Journal of Herpetology 27 (1): 5-10. - get paper here
  • Alshammari, Ahmed M. and Adel A. Ibrahim 2015. Lizards and Snakes in the Historical Faid Protected Area (Faid Hema), Ha'il Region, Saudi Arabia. Herp. Cons. Biol. 10 (3) - get paper here
  • Alshammari, Ahmed Mohajja; Salem M. Busais, Abdel A. Ibrahim 2017. Snakes in the Province of Ha’il, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including two new records. Herpetozoa 30 (1/2): 59 - 63 - get paper here
  • Arnold E N 1980. The scientific results of the Oman flora and fauna survey 1977 (Dhofar). The reptiles and amphibians of Dhofar, southern Arabia. JOURNAL OF OMAN STUDIES SPECIAL REPORT (No. 2): 273-332 - get paper here
  • Bar, A., Haimovitch, G. and Meiri, S. 2021. Field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Israel. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt Am Main. ISBN 9783-89973-120-0 - get paper here
  • Bar, Aviad and Guy Haimovitch 2012. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Israel. Pazbar LTD, 246 pp. - get paper here
  • Corkill, N. L. and Cochrane, J. A. 1966. The snakes of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra. J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc. 62 (3): 475-506 (1965) - get paper here
  • Disi, A.M.; Modry, D.; Necas, P. & Rifai, L. 2001. Amphibians and reptiles of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 408 pp.
  • Egan, D. 2007. Snakes of Arabia. Motivate Publishing, Dubai, 208 pp.
  • Golani, I. & E. Kochva 1988. Striking and Other Offensive and Defensive Behavior Patterns in Atractaspis engaddensis (Ophidia, Atractaspididae) Copeia 1988 (3): 792-797. - get paper here
  • Golani, Ilan & Elazar Kochva 1991. Literature: Strinking and other offensive and defensive behaviour patterns in Atractaspis engaddensis (Ophidia, atractaspididae). Litteratura Serpentium 11 (5): 117 - get paper here
  • Goldberg, S. R., et al. 2017. Atractaspis engaddensis (Israeli Mole Viper) Reproduction. Herpetological Review 48 (2): 444-445 - get paper here
  • Haas, Georg 1950. A new Atractaspis (mole viper) from Palestine. Copeia 1950 (1): 52-53 - get paper here
  • Kochva, E. & I. Golani 1993. Tail Display in Atractaspis engaddensis (Atractaspididae, Serpentes) Copeia 1993 (1): 226-228. - get paper here
  • Leviton,A.E.; Anderson,S.C.; Adler, K.; Minton,S.A. 1992. Handbook to Middle East Amphibians and Reptiles. SSAR, Oxford, Ohio (Contr. to Herpetol. No. 8), 1-252
  • Marx, J. 2006. Mast cells defang snake and bee venom. Science 313: 427 - get paper here
  • Meiri, Shai; Amos Belmaker, Daniel Berkowic, Kesem Kazes, Erez Maza, Guy Bar-Oz and Roi Dor 2019. A checklist of Israeli land vertebrates. Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution - get paper here
  • Modrý, P., Rifai, L., Abu Baker, M. & Amr, Z. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Denisia 14 (Neue Serie 2): 407-420 - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Pola, L., Hejduk, V., Winkelhöfer, T., Zíka, A., Baker, M. A. A., & Amr, Z. S. 2020. Recent Observations on Amphibians and Reptiles in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan Journal of Natural History, 7: 11-29 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, K. P. & Marx, H. 1956. The herpetology of Sinai. Fieldiana 39 (4): 21-40 - get paper here
  • Sindaco, R.; Alberto Venchi & Cristina Grieco 2013. The Reptiles of the Western Palearctic, Volume 2: Annotated Checklist and Distributional Atlas of the Snakes of Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, with an Update to Volume 1. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 543 pp. - get paper here
  • Venchi, Alberto and Roberto Sindaco 2006. Annotated checklist of the reptiles of the Mediterranean countries, with keys to species identification. Part 2 -Snakes (Reptilia, Serpentes). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale "G. Doria", Genova, XCVIII: 259-364
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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