Asp Viper or the Vipera aspis a pure French snake!
In this article, we take a trip across the Atlantic. Indeed, we are going to talk about the asp viper. A Viper 100% Made in France. 🇫🇷
Vipers are numerous, around a hundred species globally. Still, in France, the main ones encountered are the asp viper (Vipera aspis). The viper is still very much feared for its bites, which are rarely fatal, due to effective medical care. However, it is beneficial to know how to recognize it.
The asp viper usually reaches 70cm. However, some specimens can measure 90cm. This species does not have a typical coloration: its background color, the presence, and arrangement of spots vary. The tip of the muzzle is turned up.
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1. Description of the Asp Viper
The asp viper is a snake with a thick body, a clearly defined, broad, triangular head, eyes with vertical pupils, and a snub nose. These are the four most apparent characters that distinguish the asp viper from snakes. Adult, it measures between 50 and 70 cm but can reach 90 cm. The males are generally larger than the females, but the females are more stocky. The asp viper molts two to three times a year during its active period.
- This species has no typical coloration: its base color, the presence, and arrangement of spots vary.
- The asp viper uses its venom to kill its prey and sometimes defend itself, especially against humans in whom a bite can be fatal.
- The differences between the Vipera berus and the Asp viper are visible, especially at the level of the head: the muzzle is rounded in the Vipera berus and rolled up in the aspic, moreover the row of scales between the eye, and the mouth is two in the Berus and three in the Asp.
- Its longevity is between 25 and 30 years.
2. The reproduction of the Aspic viper
The sexual cycle of the males is annual; that of the females is a function of the climatic conditions.
They do not reproduce every year. There is always a mating period in spring and sometimes another one in autumn. The duration of gestation varies with climatic conditions.
The species is ovoviviparous (hatching of the eggs inside the mother). The number of young is 7 of about 20 cm. Once out of the cloaca, the young are then left to their own devices. It molts within 24 hours. Although provided with venom, the young do not feed.
Wintering begins around November with the females, followed by the males a fortnight later. The vipers burrow 20-30 cm deep in natural galleries. They live there in a lethargy, without being totally inert, for 3 months. Sexual maturity occurs at about 3-4 years in males and 5-6 years in females.
3. Habitat of the Common Adder
The asp viper is present in three-quarters of southern France but absent from the Mediterranean coast and Corsica. It can be found up to 3000 m altitude in the mountains. The asp viper lives in a wide variety of habitats. It is common in rugged terrain and dry environments, such as scruffy rocky slopes or open woods and their edges, dry stone walls. Contrary to common belief, it also lives in wetlands, especially in high mountains. It is frequently found on the banks of streams or ponds, up to 2,900 m in the Pyrenees and 3,000 m in the Alps.
The presence of the asp viper is linked to the presence of the small rodents it consumes. The asp viper also feeds on birds, young snakes, and lizards. The prey is first poisoned by biting and then swallowed by the head.
The asp viper is on the verge of extinction by the destruction of its habitat and the intensification of agriculture. It is also regularly deliberately killed by humans who are afraid of being bitten.