Armenian Viper

(Vipera raddei)




Facts about this animal

Armenian vipers are rather short, stout venomous snakes with a total length of 60-80 cm, which includes a short tail. Their head is broad and flat, and covered with small scales, except for the large scales above the eyes. The colour of Armenian vipers is mostly dark grey, but also grey-brown or black individuals do occur. The back of the head has two teardrop-shaped black spots, and the back is covered with numerous round blotches that can be yellow, yellow-orange, brown-orange, or red - and often edged in black.

Armenian vipers are viviparous. Mating occurs in May. After a gestation period of some 100 days, the females give birth to up to 18 live young. Young snakes measure about 19-22 cm at birth.

Armenian vipers are not reluctant to bite if they feel threatened. Their venom is hemotoxic. They feed primarily on small rodents and grasshoppers, although lizards and small ground-nesting birds may sometimes be eaten. Specimens remain in hibernation for approximately 6 months of the year, and are typically active only from late April through September.

Did you know?
that male Armenian vipers "wrestle" for the opportunity to mate with females. During combat, the two rivals rear up and entwine the front portion of their bodies, each trying to push the other to the ground. Eventually, one of the snakes will succeed in driving the other snake away. The victor can then mate with the female, who has remained coiled quietly nearby.


Name (Scientific) Vipera raddei
Name (English) Armenian Viper
Name (French) Vipère de Radde
Name (German) Armenische Bergotter
Name (Spanish) Víbora de Armenia
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed


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Photo Copyright by
Tim Vickers



Range Armenia, Iran, Turkey
Habitat Rocky slopes of mountains and canyons with dry mountainous-steppe bushy or light forest vegetation
Wild population Unknown
Zoo population 44 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo

How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 44 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

Armenian Viper populations have experienced a drastic decline over the past 20 years as a result of habitat alteration and over-collection for the pet-trade. Although protected by Armenian law there is still illegal collecation and the only protected habitat for the species is in Khosrov Nature Reserve.

Building up an ex situ reserve population, and linking the ex situ operation to in situ research and information campaigns in the countries of origin is therefore the main reason for zoos keeping this species.