Flora and fauna
in forest park Háj-Nicovô

European viper

Vipera berus

European viper

Classification: reptiles
Size: 40 – 80 cm
Lifespan: 20 years
Red List Category: VU – vulnerable

The viper, also called the adder, is our only poisonous snake. Its body is short and stout. The head is egg-shaped, but flattened from above. The iris of the eye is red, while the pupil has a vertical line shape. It has a typical zigzag pattern with diverse coloring, from gray through to brown to reddish or completely black, where its zigzag fades. On its head, it has a dark pattern in the shape of the letter X.

It inhabits a wide range of biotopes (meadows, pastures, heathlands, bog lands, mountain meadows, and the edges of scrublands). In our country, it ascends to 2000 m above sea level. It survives the winter under tree roots, in rock clefts and rodent holes etc.

Mating takes place at the end of April and in May. It is an ovoviviparous species, meaning that the young (about 20) develop in the mother’s body and rupture the embryo shell during birth.

They feed on amphibians, reptiles, and, in adulthood, mainly rodents. Their predators are, for example, hedgehogs and birds of prey. Their greatest enemy, however, is man, who often kills this law-protected animal out of fear.

Do you know?
Vipers have their venom glands fully developed right after birth. Most often, they bite a human without releasing the poison, as this would deprive them of an effective weapon for obtaining food. The replenishment of its venom can take up to 14 days. A viper retains a maximum dose of 5-10 mg of poison, while the lethal dose for humans is 15 mg. Its effectiveness, however, depends on a person's state of health.

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