photos -- taxonomy -- morphology -- distribution -- biotopes and way of life -- biology -- ecology -- protection -- projects

    Adult female Vipera darevskii - Site: Achkasar (2500 m. a.s.l.), Basin: Kaspian Sea-Arax-Akhuryan: Region: Shirak, Republic of Armenia.


    Vipera darevskii - Darevsky’s shield-headed viper (Vipera (Pelias) darevskii Vedmederja, Orlov & Tuniyev, 1986). – insufficiently explored species with unclear genesis, actually known only from N-W Armenia and included in IUCN Red List in category CR C2b. In this connection, for basing conservation of the genetic diversity of this viper in situ, and for clearing up the possible ways of its genesis, the detection of its new habitats is necessary.
    As the precut stage for resolving this objective, some possible habitats of Darevsky’s viper are identified. Identification of the presumed habitats in based on the following criteria of actual habitats: altitude range – 2400-3100 m above sea level; slope exposure - SSW–S–SSE which is equivalent to 45-50° from calibration contour lines of the map; slope steepness – 10-40°, which is equivalent to7-10 isolines per 10 mm. Taking into account also the hypothesis regarding the genesis of Darevsky’s viper as a hybrid resulting from cross-breeding among some representatives of complexes Vipera urisini – renardi – eriwanensis and Vipera kaznakovi – dinniki – pontica, the presumed habitats of Darevsky’s viper are situated near the northern border of the range of V. eriwanensis.                                                                                                   

    There are 2 plots of actual distribution of Darevsky’s viper according to literature data (Darevsky, 1957; Aghasyan, 1996), 2 plots where this viper was possibly registered according to personal comments of I.S. Darevsky (1996), and 64 plots of possible habitats presumed for the first time. Approximately 104 sq. km of potential habitats are situated in Armenia, (Javakhety Eghnakhagh Okuz and Ortul mountains), 63 sq. km – in Georgia (Javekhety and Eghnakhagh massives, Eldagh, Madatapa, Gilkhidagh, Gharakhach mountains) and 297 sq. km – in Turkey (Eghnakhagh, Aghbaba and Childir massives as well as Ijaret mountain). All mountain massives mentioned above are situated in the limits of Javakhety-Ashotsk physical-geographical region.
The continuation of this project is being planned.

    Similar simpatric species:
Coronella austriaca, Natrix natrix persa, Natrix tessellata, Vipera (Pelias) eriwanensis.

    Distribution in Armenia:
Altitudes: 2400-3100 m a.s.l.

    Administrative regions:
N-Shirak, (N-W Lory possible).

    Habitats:                                                                                 Open rocklands and moirains.

    Global distribution:
Javakhk-Ashotsk physical geographical region of Armenian upland.

Europe: NW Armenia, SC Georgia, NE Turkey (Kars, Artvin)

     Food:                                                                                     Microtus ssp., Chionomus nivalis Mart., Darevskia valentini, arthropods.

    Enemies:                                                                                                              Martes foina Erxl. sbsp. nehringi Sat., man, ( presumbaly birds).

    Parasites: No data.

    Known trend:                                                                                                    Not abjective data is available (presumably critically endangered).

/Tadevosyan T.L
Non Governmental Organization for Nature Protection, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia./ 


Vipera dinniki

Vipera kaznakovi 

Vipera magnifica 

Vipera orlovi

Vipera darevskii 

Darevski`s shield-headed viper                                                               


 The article and all photos are  friendly  allowed  by Dr. Tigran L.  Tadevosyan (Armenia).  


       Vipera darevskii adult male 

   Vipera darevskii adult female

   Vipera darevskii adult female
  Vipera darevskii adult male