By Anders Nielsen, Ph.d.
Its name is identical to the herpetologist who published the first description of it in a scientific journal in the 18th century. In India the Russel’s Viper is responsible for many fatalities and they call it Daboia.
It is a fast and vicious snake. It can reach a length of about five feet. In general larger snakes are slower than smaller snakes, but the Russel’s Viper is somewhere in between, but very fast by nature.
For most venomous snakes the percentage of so-called dry bites, without envenomation, is relatively high. The Russel’s Viper very seldom delivers dry bites but goes for maximum dosage.
One of the people in the second video fainted three minutes after the bite and had to receive more than 30 vials of antivenom, which is not uncommon, just to survive. The snake was the same size as in the video.
It has a triangular head like most venomous snakes, and its fangs are very large. It is a relatively heavy-bodied snake. Instead of providing a full description of its appearance, I recommend one of the videos.
The Daboia is often found in agricultural regions, which is problematic as many encounters with humans are unavoidable.
The Russel’s Viper or Daboia russelii is responsible for a high morbidity (symptoms indicating Russel’s viper bite) and fatalities. One of the drawbacks of its bites is that it potentially causes acute renal failure. Full recovery from bites from a Russel’s Viper is rare, as the kidney’s are severely damaged by the snake’s venom.
Its venom also acts as a hemorrhagic toxin causing bleeding, usually starting from the gums. Another common symptom is the paralysis of muscles in the neck, also known as the broken neck syndrome.
Although there is only one species, species from different geographic regions have venom slightly different in nature and effect. Therefore, antivenin effective in India may not be that efficient in Sri Lanka or Ceylon; luckily, personnel at many hospitals know this.
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