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Cerastes vipera (LINNAEUS, 1758)

IUCN Red List - Cerastes vipera - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Viperinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Sahara Sand Viper
G: Avicennaviper 
SynonymColuber Vipera LINNAEUS 1758: 216
Aspis cleopatrae LAURENTI 1768
Vipera aegyptiaca DAUDIN 1803
Cerastes richiei GRAY 1842
? Cerastes Aegyptiacus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 1440
Vipera avicennae JAN 1859
Vipera (Cerastes) cleopatrae — BOETTGER 1885: 463
Cerastes vipera — BOULENGER 1891
Cerastes vipera inornatus WERNER 1929 (fide MCDIARMID et al. 1999)
Aspis vipera — SAINT GIRONS 1956
Cerastes vipera — HARDING & WELCH 1980
Cerastes vipera — WELCH 1994: 43
Cerastes vipera — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 369
Vipera cerastes — SCHMIDT 2003
Cerastes vipera — VENCHI & SINDACO 2006
Cerastes vipera — BAHA EL-DIN 2006: 289
Cerastes vipera — WALLACH et al. 2014: 153
Cerastes vipera — MEIRI et al. 2019 
DistributionEgypt (Sinai), Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Western Sahara, N Sudan (Jumhūriyyat),

Type locality: “Aegypto”  
TypesHolotype: NRM (NHRM) 99, MCZ R-27509 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Tail short, tail / total length = 0.07-0.14. Nostril slit-like; 11-13 supralabials; eye moderate, separated from supralabials by 3-4 scales, pupil vertical; scales on dorsal side of head large, imbricate, 8-13 interorbitals; no supraocular horn; dorsals strongly keeled, 23-29 scale rows around mid-body; 102-120 ventrals, 18-26 paired subcaudals; anal entire (Anderson 1898, Werner and Sivan 1992, Jooris and Fourmy 1996). Dorsum sandy beige, with a pattern of small round spots in alternating rows along the back. Tail color and length is sexually dimorphic; females have shorter black tails, while males have longer tails the same coloration as the dorsum (Marx 1958). Venter plain white. (Baha El-Din 2006)

Variation: Animals from the western Mediterranean coastal plain are reddish in color and more coarsely scaled. Jooris and Fourmy (1996) found that there is a significant relationship between temperature and scale character of this species; with higher number of ventrals and supralabials occurring in warmer, more southern localities of the species' range. (Baha El-Din 2006)

Sexual dimorphism: see Sivan et al. 2023. 

Distribution: Reports from Lebanon are most likely in error (JOGER 1984), For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013 and Bar et al. 2021.

Sexual dimorphism: The tip of the tail in female Cerastes vipera, a small viperid snake, is black and conspicuous, whereas that of the male is not (Tesler et al.2 020). 
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  • Abukashawa, S.M.A., Papenfuss, T.J. & Alkhedir, I.S. 2018. Geographic Distribution: Cerastes vipera (Sahara Sand Viper). Herpetological Review 49 (1): 75. - get paper here
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