Tuesday 21 May
Oman saw-scaled viper (Echis omanensis)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Oman saw-scaled viper fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Oman saw-scaled viper description
Only recently recognised as a distinct species, variations in the scales on the head led to the Oman saw-scaled viper (Echis omanensis) being split from the wider ranging Palestine saw-scaled viper (Echis coloratus) (3). The head is broad, with large eyes featuring vertical-slit pupils, and jaws that bear long, hinged, hollow fangs capable of administering a highly toxic venom (2). The overall colouration is grey or grey-brown, with paler blotches on the upper surface, running down the spine. Each blotch is surrounded by a dark border, which may extend laterally over the flanks, merging with a series of dark bands that run along each side. The underside is yellowish-white or greyish-white, and marked with indistinct dots in some individuals (3).
- Echis colorata, Echis froenatus.
- Length: up to 75 cm (2)
International Reptile Conservation Foundation:
- Animals with no backbone.
- Mountain canyons found in North Africa and the Middle East that only carry water when it rains.
IUCN Red List (February, 2013)
- Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
- Babocsay, G. (2004) A new species of saw-scaled viper of the Echis coloratus complex (Ophidia: Viperidae) from Oman, Eastern Arabia. Systematics and Biodiversity, 1: 503 - 514.
- O'Shea, M. (2008) Venomous Snakes of the World. New Holland Publishers, London.
World Database On Protected Areas (August, 2009)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Oman saw-scaled viper biology
Active in the early morning and afternoon, and possibly throughout the night, the Oman saw-scaled viper will commonly take up a position around a pool of water in order to ambush prey, such as toads (2) (3). Prey is taken by means of a lightning-fast strike, in which the venom is administered, after which the prey is released to die from its effects, before being swallowed whole (2). In addition, to toads, this species is likely to feed on a range of other vertebrates and invertebrates, including birds and possibly also wadi fish that have become stranded in drying pools (2) (3). Like other saw-scaled vipers, when threatened this species will rub opposing coils of its body together, which produces a characteristic sawing sound due to the scales’ keeled surfaces. This is thought to help conserve valuable moisture that would be lost by hissing (4). Little is known about the Oman saw-scaled viper’s reproduction, although it is likely to be similar to that of its close relative, the Palestine saw-scaled viper. Therefore, rather than producing live young like most vipers, this species probably lays a small clutch of eggs (4).Top
Oman saw-scaled viper rangeTop
Oman saw-scaled viper habitatTop
Oman saw-scaled viper status
The Oman saw-scaled viper has been classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Oman saw-scaled viper threats
As a recently recognised species (3), there is currently very little information concerning any potential threats faced by the Oman saw-scaled viper. Nevertheless, as it has a restricted range (3), it is possible that its population may be relatively small.Top
Oman saw-scaled viper conservation
There are no known conservation measures in place for the Oman saw-scaled viper, although it may occur within some of the protected areas found within its range (5).Top
Find out more
To learn more about reptile conservation visit:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
This species is featured in:
This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.