Echis leucogaster

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Echis leucogaster
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Echis
Species: E. leucogaster
Binomial name
Echis leucogaster
Roman, 1972
  • Echis carinatus leucogaster - Roman, 1972
  • Echis leucogaster - Roman, 1975
  • Echis [(Toxicoa)] arenicola leucogaster - Cherlin, 1990
  • Echis leucogaster - Golay et al., 1993[1]

Common names: white-bellied carpet viper,[2][3] Roman's saw-scaled viper.[4]  
Echis leucogaster is a venomous viper species found in West and Northwest Africa. It is named after its white, unmarked belly. No subspecies are currently recognized.[5]


The average length is 30-70 cm, with a maximum of 87 cm. The scalation of the head is similar to E. carinatus. The body is rather stout, the cross-section of which is cylindrical or subtriangular. The dorsal scales are rough and heavily keeled. At midbody, there are 27-33 rows of dorsal scales. The ventral scales number 165-180.[2]

Coloration and pattern are both variable, ranging from brown to gray to reddish and everything in between. It generally consists of a series of light, oblique, dorsal crossbars or saddles set against a darker ground color. The flanks are lighter in color, normally with a series of triangular, subtriangular or circular, dark markings with light or white edges. The belly is an unbroken pale cream, white or ivory.[2]

Geographic range

Found in in West Africa in northern Nigeria, western Niger, Burkina Faso, central Mali, northern Guinea, and in Senegal. In Northwest Africa it occurs in southern Mauritania, Algeria (Ahaggar), Western Sahara and in the extreme south of Morocco. Roman (1975) described the type locality as "Boubon, à 20 km au Nord de Niamey, Niger."[1]

According to Golay et al. (1993), the range includes Nigeria, Niger, Upper Volta, southern Algeria and Mauritania.[2]

Spawls and Branch (1995) describe the range as extending from the southern half of Mauritania, Senegal and northern Guinea, through central Mali to northern Burkina Faso and western Niger. However, they are not sure whether or not the specimens from southern Morocco and the Ahaggar (mountains) are connected to the main population. They also regard some of the specimens from Senegal and northern Mali as problematic.[3]


Not a true desert animal, it is found along its edges. Associated with arid savannah, semi-desert, Sahel and well-vegetated dry river beds (wadis) and oases.[3]


Takes a wide variety of prey, including invertebrates (especially scorpions and centipedes), small mammals and reptiles.[3]


Known to lay eggs. Hatchlings are 12-16 cm in length.[3]

See also

Cited references

  1. 1.0 1.1 McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida. 359 pp. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Spawls S, Branch B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Ralph Curtis Books. Dubai: Oriental Press. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.
  4. Species Echis leucogaster at the Species2000 Database
  5. Echis leucogaster (TSN 634971) at Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Accessed 12 April 2007.