West African Carpet Viper – Echis ocellatus

Courtesy of Wolfgang Wuster












Echis ocellatus
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Echis
E. ocellatus
Binomial name
Echis ocellatus
Stemmler, 1970
  • Echis carinatus ocellatus Stemmler, 1970
  • Echis ocellatus
    Hughes, 1976
  • Echis [(Toxicoa)] ocellatus
    Cherlin, 1990[1]

Echis ocellatus, known by the common names West African carpet viper[2][3] and ocellated carpet viper,[4] is a venomous species of viper endemic to West Africa. No subspecies are currently recognized.[5]

It is responsible for more human fatalities due to snakebite than all other African species combined.[6] An antivenom called Echitab-plus-ICP is manufactured by the Costa Rican Instituto Clodomiro Picado and another called EchiTabG is manufactured by MicroPharm Ltd in the UK.[7][8]


Othmar Stemmler described the species in 1970. It was considered a subspecies of the E. carinatus.

The specific name, ocellatus, is a reference to the distinctive series of "eye-spots" (ocelli) which runs the length of the body.[3]

Common names include African saw-tailed viper, ocellated carpet viper and West African carpet viper.


The maximum total length (body + tail) is 65 cm (26 in), possibly more, while the average total length is 30–50 cm (12–20 in).[3]

Geographic range

It is found in West Africa from Mauritania, Senegal and Guinea, through, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, southern Niger, and Nigeria. It is also found in northern Cameroon and southwestern Chad.

The type locality is described as "Haute Volta, Garango, 048 N, 033 W" (Burkina Faso).[1]

There are also reports of single specimens found in the Bangui in the Central African Republic, and in central Sudan. It is rarely found north of the 15th parallel, after which E. leucogaster becomes more common. The geographic range of E. ocellatus extends to the coast via the Dahomey Gap.[3]


Sexually mature females lay between 6 and 20 eggs, usually at the end of the dry season in February to March. Hatchlings are 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in) in total length.


  1. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg/12px-Wikisource-logo.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ Mallow D, Ludwig D, Nilson G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. 359 pp. ISBN 0-89464-877-2.
  3. ^ a b c d Spawls S, Branch B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Dubai: Ralph Curtis Books. Oriental Press. 192 pp. ISBN 0-88359-029-8.
  4. ^ Echis ocellatus at Munich AntiVenom INdex (MAVIN). Accessed 3 August 2007.
  5. ^ "Echis ocellatus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2 August 2006.
  6. ^ JERRY G. WALLS, The World's Deadliest Snakes, Reptiles (magazine)
  7. ^ http://www.echitabplusicp.org/product/description
  8. ^ https://micropharm.co.uk/products/current_products/

Further reading

  • Cherlin VA. 1990. [A taxonomic revision of the snake genus Echis (Viperidae). II. An analysis of taxonomy and description of new forms]. [Proc. Zool. Inst. Leningrad] 207: 193-223. (in Russian).
  • Hughes B. 1976. Notes on African Carpet Vipers, Echis carinatus, E. leucogaster and E. ocellatus (Viperidae, Serpentes). Revue Suisse de Zoologie 83 (2): 359-371.
  • Stemmler O. 1970. Die Sandrasselotter aus Westafrika: Echis carinatus ocellatus subsp. nov. (Serpentes, Viperidae). Revue Suisse de Zoologie 77 (2): 273-282.
source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echis_ocellatus