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Macrovipera lebetina (Levant Viper, Blunt-nosed Viper / Koca Engerek)

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Macrovipera lebetina (Levant Viper, Blunt-nosed Viper / Koca Engerek)


Macrovipera lebetina (Levant Viper, Blunt-nosed Viper / Koca Engerek) [Male / Erkek] from Suruç, ŞANLIURFA - 18.04.2008.

This viper species is a large snake, with females reaching 214 cm in length and males growing to a similar size. However, sizes vary between different populations. Its range includes Cyprus Island (represented by nominate subspecies), Turkey (S and E Anatolia) [ssp. euphratica known from S, whereas in N Eastern parts ssp. obtusa is distributed], Syria, N. Iraq, Jordan and Middle Asia with a vertical distribution to 2000 m.

The head is broad, triangular and distinct from the neck. The snout is rounded and blunt when viewed from above, which is why it is also called the blunt-nosed viper. Top of the head covered with small, keeled scales, including over the eyes. Pupils are vertical. Its venom may be dangerous to man, or fatal if not treated, but does not strike if not disturbed.

This species is a ground-dweller, diurnal in colder periods, nocturnal in the hottest periods. Often it is encountered on roads during the night time in summer. It is seen frequently in flat meadows or pastures without trees and rocky places, ruins, cultivated fields and gardens. It feeds mainly on rodents, other small mammals, birds, lizards and occasionally even other snakes. It is rather shy, but ready to bite if cornered. When disturbed, it starts the typical body coils are arranged in a double crescent, with the concave side including “S”-curved neck and ready-to-strike head turned towards the enemy. Due to the effectiveness and large volume of the venom, it is the most dangerous snake of Turkey and Cyprus Island. In both Turkey and Cyprus Island, its abundance is extremely low. Therefore, it is evident that it is endangered and needs protection like all other viper species.

During a laboratory work for determining taxonomical and venom protein differences between the Turkish and Cypriot populations of the species, I was bitten from my finger accidentally by an adult, 75 cm long blunt-nosed viper. Taking advantage of this opportunity, we’ve conducted a study to present the clinical, physiological, serological and biochemical developments after envenomating. You can reach detailed information on this visiting the related paper on my web site.

References: 1. Göçmen, B. (Unpub. results). The results of herpetological trips. 2. Göçmen, B., Tok, C. V., Kaya, U. & Tosunoglu, M. (1996). A Preliminary Report On the Herpetofauna of Northern Cyprus. Turk. J. Zoology, 20 (suppl.): 161-176. 3. Göçmen, B., Arikan, H., Mermer, A., Langerwerf, B. & Bahar, H. (2006). Morphological, Hemipenial and Venom Electrophoresis Comparisons of Levantine Viper, Macrovipera lebetina (Linnaeus, 1758) from Cyprus and Southern Anatolia. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 30 (2): 225-234. 4. Göçmen, B., Arikan, H., Özbel, Y., Mermer, A. & Çiçek, K. (2006). Clinical, physiological and serological observations on human folowing Macrovipera lebetina lebetina envenomating. Türkiye Parazitoloji Dergisi (Acta Parasitologica Turcica), 30 (2): 158-162. 5. Göçmen, B., Kasot, N., Yildiz, M.Z., Sas, I., Akman, B., Yalçinkaya, D. & Gücel, S. (2008). Results of the Herpetological Trips to Northern Cyprus. North-Western Journal of Zoology, 4 (1): 139-149. 6. Göçmen, B., Atatür, M. K., Budak, A., Bahar, H., Yildiz, M. Z., Alpagut-Keskin, N. (2008). Taxonomic notes on the snakes of Northern Cyprus, with observations on their morphologies and ecologies. Animal Biology, 59 (1): 1-30 7. Budak, A. & Göçmen, B. (2005). Herpetology. Ege Üniversitesi Fen Fakültesi Kitaplar Serisi, No. 194, Ege Üniversitesi Basimevi, Bornova-Izmir, 226 pp. [2nd Edition, 2008]. 8. Atatür, M. K & Göçmen, B. (2001). Amphibians and Reptiles of Northern Cyprus (1st Edition), Ege Üniversitesi, Fen Fakültesi Kitaplar Serisi, No. 170, Ege Üniversitesi Basimevi, Bornova-Izmir, 63 pp (ISBN 975-483-486-5) [In Turkish & English]. [A PDF-Printable Version is present in my web site]. 9. Disi, A. M., Modry, D., Necas, P. & Rifai, L. (2001). Amphibians and Reptiles of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Edition Chimaira, 408 pp. 10. Arikan, H., Göçmen, B., Mermer, A. & Bahar, H. (2005). An electrophoretic comparison of the venoms of a colubrid and various viperid snakes from Turkey and Cyprus, with some taxonomic and phylogenetic implications. Zootaxa, 1038: 1-10. 11. Arikan, H., G., Göçmen, B., Kumlutas, Y., Alpagut-Keskin, N., Ilgaz, Ç. & Yildiz, M. Z. (2008). Electrophoretic characterisation of the venom samples obtained from various Anatolian snakes (Serpentes: Colubridae, Viperidae, Elapidae). North-Western Journal of Zoology, 4 (1): 16-28. 12. Franzen, M., Bußmann, M., Kordges, T. & Thiesmeier, B. (2008). Die Amphibien und Reptilien der Südwest-Turkei. Supplement der Zeitschrift für Feldherpetologie 14, Laurenti Verlag, Bielefeld, Germany, 328pp.

Author Bayram GÖÇMEN
Created on Friday 18 April 2008
Posted on Friday 04 February 2011
Tags Şanlıurfa, TURKEY / TÜRKİYE
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