Vipera berus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Vipera berus
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name/s:
English Adder
Coluber berus Linnaeus, 1758
Vipera nikolskii Vedmederya, Grubandt & Rudayeva, 1986
Taxonomic Notes: Preliminary data on the phylogeography of the species based on mtDNA sequences identified several independent evolutionary lineages (Joger et al. 2003; Carlsson et al. 2004).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-14
Assessor/s: Jelka Crnobrnja Isailovic, Milan Vogrin, Claudia Corti, Paulo Sá-Sousa, Marc Cheylan, Juan M. Pleguezuelos, Ljiljana Tomović, Bogoljub Sterijovski, Ulrich Joger, A. Westerström, Bartosz Borczyk, Benedikt Schmidt, Andreas Meyer, Roberto Sindaco, Dušan Jelić
Reviewer/s: Cox, N. and Temple, H.J. (Global Reptile Assessment)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough (30% or greater) to qualify for listing in a more threatened category at the global level.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This widespread species ranges southwards from Scandinavia (where the species is patchily distributed in the northern part of the range) and the Baltic region to France and the United Kingdom (not present in Ireland), and eastwards through Europe (excluding Iberia, peninsular Italy and most of Greece) to Russia (as far east as Sakhalin), Mongolia, the People's Democratic Republic of Korea and northwestern China. On the Balkan peninsula it is largely restricted to montane areas and has a very fragmented distribution. It has been recorded from sea-level up to 2,700m asl (the Alps and in Bulgaria).

Albania; Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Italy; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Sweden; Switzerland; United Kingdom
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It can be common in suitable habitat. In some mountainous parts of its range, such as Bulgaria and Greece, it is a rare species (Alexander Westerström pers. comm.). In Germany there have been population declines and some local extinctions. Lowland populations from Po plain in northern Italy are extinct in the past century.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is present in a wide variety of habitats including, open woodland and shrubland, hedgerows, field edges, heathland, moors, grasslands, alpine meadows, dunes and marshes. It generally requires humid habitats. The female produces between three and 18 young.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In Europe, populations of this species have been significantly fragmented by the intensification of agricultural methods and development. Populations of this species are susceptible to persecution and collection for the pet trade (Ursenbacher, 1997). It is threatened in Romania by illegal collection of animals for venom extraction (CoE, 2003). In some parts of its range afforestation, and succession as a result of abandonment of traditional agricultural practices, are threats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Annex III of the Bern Convention. It occurs in many protected areas throughout its range. It is protected by national legislation in parts of its range. There is a need to conserve separate evolutionary lineages of this species, as some may represent currently unrecognized species. This species is categorized as Endangered in Switzerland (Monney and Meyer, 2005).

Bibliography [top]

Arnold, E.N. 2003. Reptiles and amphibians of Europe. Princeton University Press., Princeton and Oxford.

Biella, H.-J. and Völkl, W. 1993. Die Biologie der kreuzotter (Vipera berus, L. 1758) in Mitteleuropa - ein kurzer Überblick. Mertensiella: 311-318.

Böhme, W. and Joger, U. 1984. Eine neue Art des Vipera berus-Komplexes aus der Turkei. Amphibia-Reptilia: 265-271.

Carlsson, M., Söderberg, L. and Tegelström, H, 2004. The genetic structure of addres (Vipera berus) in Fennoscandia: congruence between different kinds of genetic markers. Molecular Ecology: 3147-3152.

Council of Europe. 2003. Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Group of experts on the conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles. Mälmo (Sweden), 26-27 September 2003. Report T-PVS (2003) 18.

Gasc, J.-P., Cabela, A., Crnobrnja-Isailovic, J., Dolmen, D., Grossenbacher, K., Haffner, P., Lescure, J., Martens, H., Martínez-Rica, J.P., Maurin, H., Oliveira, M.E., Sofianidou, T.S., Veith, M. and Zuiderwijk, A. 1997. Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica and Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris.

Heckes, U., Gruber, H.-J. and Haft, J. 1993. Verbreitung, Habitateinbindung und Gefährdung der Kreuzotter Vipera berus (Linnaeus 1758) in Südbayern. Mertensiella: 331-342.

Heimes, P. 1993. Die Kreuzotter (Vipera b. berus L. 1758) im Spessart. Mertensiella: 325-330.

Hofer, U., Monney, J.-C. and Dusej, G. 2001. Die Reptilien der Schweiz: Verbreitung, Lebensräume, Schutz. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.

Ioannidis, Y. and Bousbouras, D. 1989. Erster Bericht über die Balkan-Kreuzotter Vipera berus bosniensis Boetgger, 1889 aus Griechenland. Salamandra: 77-80.

IUCN. 2009. European Species on the IUCN Red List. Available at: (Accessed: 22 June 2009).

Janev-Hutinec, B. and Lupret-Obradović, S. 2005. Zmije Hrvatske - Priručnik za određivanje vrsta. HHD-Hyla.

Joger, U., Kalyabina-Hauf, S.A., Schweiger, S., Mayer, W., Orlov, N.L. and Wink, M. 2003. Phylogeography of Eurasian Vipera (subgenus Pelias). Programme and Abstracts, 12 Meeting of Societas Europaea Herpetologica.

Joger, U., Lenk, P., Baran, I., Böhme, W., Ziegler, T., Heidrich, P. and Wink, M. 1997. The phylogenetic position of Vipera barani and of Vipera nikolskii within the Vipera berus complex. Herpetologia Bonnensis., Bonn.

Krecsák, L. 2001. Distribution of the common adder (Vipera berus) in Transylvania. Collegium Biologicum: 25-30.

Lehnert, M. and Fritz, K. 1993. Verbreitung und Klimaanspruch der Kreuzotter (Vipera berus berus L.) in Südwestdeutschland. Mertensiella: 343-356.

Madsen, T., Shine, R., Olsson, M. and Wittzell, H. 1999. Conservation biology - Restoration of an inbred adder population. Nature: 34-35.

Madsen, T., Ujvari, B. and Olsson, M. 2004. Novel genes continue to enhance population growth in adders (Vipera berus). Biological Conservation: 145-147.

McDiarmid, R.W., Campbell, J.A. and Touré, T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. Herpetologists' League.

Monney, J.-C. and Meyer, A. 2005. Rote Liste der gefährdeten Reptilien der Schweiz. BUWAL-Reihe: Vollzug Umwelt, 50 S., (BUWAL, Bern, Switzerland).

Necas, P., Modry, D. and Zavadil, V. 1997. Czech Recent and Fossil Amphibians and Reptiles. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main.

Nilson, G., Andrén, C. and Szyndlar, Z. 1994. The systematic position of the Common Adder, Vipera berus (L.) (Reptilia, Viperidae), in North Korea and adjacent regions. Bonn. zool. Beitr.: 49-56.

Reading, C.J., Buckland, S.T., McGowan, G.M., Gorzula, S., Jayasinghe, G., Staines, B.W., Elston, D.A. and Ahamadi, S. 1996. The distribution and status of the adder (Vipera berus L) in Scotland determined from questionnaire surveys. Journal of Biogeography: 657-667.

Saint-Girons, H. 1978. Morphologie externe comparée et systematique des Viperes d'Europe (Reptilia, Viperidae). Rev. Suisse Zool.: 165-595.

Sindaco, R., Doria, G., Razzetti, E. and Bernini, F. 2006. Atlas of Italian Amphibians and Reptiles\\Atlante Degli Anfibi E Dei Rettili D'Italia. Societas Herpetologica Italica - Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze.

Sura, P. and Zamachowski, W. 2003. Zmija zygzakowata Vipera berus (Linnaeus, 1758). In: Glowacinski, Z. and Rafinski, J. (eds), Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles of Poland. Status - Distribution - Conservation, pp.98-100. Instytut Ochrony Przyrody PAN, Warszawa - Kraków.

Trapp, B. 2004. Die Balkan-Kreuzotter (Vipera berus bosniensis) in Griechenland. Draco: 94-96.

Ursenbacher, S. 1997. Estimation de l’effectif et analyse de risque d’extinction d’une population de Vipère péliade (Vipera berus) dans le Jura vaudois. Travail de diplôme non publ., Université de Lausanne.

Ursenbacher, S. and Monney, J.-C. 2003. Résultats de 5 années de suivi d'une population de Vipère péliade (Vipera berus) dans le Jura Suisse: estimation des effectifs et discussion des méthodes d’estimation. Bulletin de la Société Herpétologique de France: 15-25.

Citation: Jelka Crnobrnja Isailovic, Milan Vogrin, Claudia Corti, Paulo Sá-Sousa, Marc Cheylan, Juan M. Pleguezuelos, Ljiljana Tomović, Bogoljub Sterijovski, Ulrich Joger, A. Westerström, Bartosz Borczyk, Benedikt Schmidt, Andreas Meyer, Roberto Sindaco, Dušan Jelić 2009. Vipera berus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 23 April 2014.
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