Russel’s Viper – Venomous – Deadly

Russel's viper found in Sa Kaeo province near the Thailand border with Cambodia.
Russel’s viper found in Sa Kaeo province near the Thailand border with Cambodia.

Daboia siamensis (Eastern Russel’s Viper)

Thais say: Ngoo Maow Saow

Length: Maximum of 1.7 meters. Russel’s around 1 meter long are common.

Range: These snakes are found around Bangkok, West, North, and East of Bangkok. The Russel’s photos shown here are from Sa Kaeo province near Cambodia.

Habitat:  These snakes are terrestrial and prefer grassy lowland, and open areas of all sorts. They prefer dry air and ground. are not found in dense rainforest or other very humid areas often.

Active Time? Nocturnal.

Food: Mostly rodents, but will target lizards and frogs as well.

Defensive Behavior: A loud hiss can precede a bite. When striking, it coils first and strikes. This snake is strong, so bites can be deep. Simple rubber boots are probably not sufficient to stop the fangs from penetration.

Russel's viper in ambush posture.
Russel’s viper in typical ambush posture.

Venom Toxicity: Very strong. The rate of envenomation is estimated at 80% of bites. That’s high in comparison to Malayan pit vipers for instance, which is closer to 50%. Coagulopathy is common and necrosis is a possibility. Renal failure is common.

Russell’s Viper Antivenin is made at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Snake Institute in Bangkok.

Offspring: Need information for this section.

Notes: Across the globe, it has been estimated that bites from this snake kill more people than any other. This snake (Daboia vipers) are present across Asia and their bite is deep. They have strong fangs and their venom is very strong.

Russel’s have thick necks and they are the thickest of the vipers in Thailand, by far.

Color of Russel’s tends to be shades of brown.

A rather unknown occurrence – years after a bite, a man’s testicles may shrivel up, and there can be a loss of body hair. Info here.

Scientific classification: Daboia siamensis

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Daboia

Binomial name: Daboia siamensis

(Classified by M.A. Smith, 1917)

Video of Russel’s Viper – If you have a video of D. siamensis at Youtube or some other video sharing site, do let me know. I’d love to replace the video below with another better one!

 

About Vern Lovic

Snake posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours and events to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, corals, keelbacks, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species. Here's our latest book with detailed information on Thailand's 35 Deadly Snakes. "Is That Snake In Your House Dangerous? Identify Deadly Thailand Snakes In Under 5 Minutes!" INFO HERE.

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