Like other vipers, the Palestine saw-scaled viper has relatively long, hollow fangs that can be folded against the roof of the mouth when not in use (5). The fangs of vipers are generally longer than those of other snakes, allowing venom to be injected deeper into their prey. The fangs may be replaced at numerous times throughout the snake’s life as new fangs develop at the back of the mouth and replace old ones that are shed (11).
Species in the genus Echis are responsible for the greatest proportion of all snake bite fatalities in humans. As these vipers often live in close proximity to humans and will bite with little provocation, they are considered to be among the world’s most dangerous snakes (5) (11).
The Palestine saw-scaled viper is active either at night or at dawn and dusk (4) (6). Like other vipers, it is likely to hunt its prey using a sit-and-wait technique, aided by camouflaging body markings that conceal the snake from its prey (11).
The Palestine saw-scaled viper has been reported to feed on small mammals, frogs, toads, birds, lizards and large invertebrates (2) (6) (8). In some areas, it has a habit of perching on bushes or trees close to water, with the head pointed upwards, suggesting that it may hunt birds coming in to rest or drink (8). Once a viper has struck its prey, it usually withdraws immediately (12) and then follows its prey using chemical cues until its venom has immobilised the victim (11).
The majority of viper species give birth to live young (5) (9). However, the Palestine saw-scaled viper is somewhat unusual in laying eggs (1) (2), usually producing six to ten eggs per clutch (2).