Saw-scaled or carpet vipers (Genus Echis)A recent revision of the genus Echis recognizes five species that occur in Africa. Echis are relatively small slender-bodied snakes with overlapping keeled scales. The scales on the flanks have serrated keels. When the snake rubs its coils together in fear or irritation, a rasping sound is produced which is easily recognized and forms the basis of many onomatopoeic local names (e.g. kububuwa in Hausa; kurot in Tangale, fufukr in Bura, for’doyre in Fulani). There are five species complexes currently recognised. Burton’s carpet viper (Echis coloratus). Average length 30–60 cm (maximum length 80 cm). The colouring is variable; ground colour grey, brown, blue or pink with a series of large, pale, oval patches along the dorsum with dark edges connected to a row of dark spots on each flank.
Joger’s carpet viper (Echis jogeri)Length about 30 cm. Colouring resembles E. ocellatus. Distinguished by lower ventral scale counts. Reported from Mali and Senegal.
White-bellied Carpet Viper (Echis leucogaster)Average length 30–70 cm (maximum length 87 cm). The colour and dorsal pattern resemble
E. pyramidum (Figures 6 and 7). The undulating pale line on the flanks is usually incomplete, producing a series of inverted Ushaped or crescentic marks either side of the dorsal series of pale patches, which sometimes form a zigzag pattern. The belly is pure white.
West African Carpet Viper or Ocellated Carpet Viper (Echis ocellatus)
Average length 30-50 cm (maximum length 70 cm). A reddish-brown or greyish snake with pale oval or rhomboidal dorsal markings connected by a dark median band and flanked by white spots (“eyes”) bordered with black scales. The belly is white, heavily spotted with black.
Egyptian Carpet Viper (Echis pyramidum)Average length 30-60 cm (maximum length 85 cm). The colour is greyish, brownish or reddish brown, with white dorsal oval markings connected by a dark band and flanked by a more or less complete pale undulating line. The belly is pale.
Somali Puff Adder (Bitis arietans somalica)It differs from Bitis arietans arietans only in that it has keeled sub caudals, which may be an aid to side winding. All have relatively thick bodies with flattened heads and upward-pointing nostrils, keeled scales and very short tails.
Puff Adder (Bitis arietans arietans)(Bitis arietans is most probably aspecies complex.). This is a very large, heavy bodied snake, maximum total length exceeding 190 cm. Its colour is almost black, brown, reddish or even orange above, with distinctive pale, blackedged U or V marks along the dorsum becoming annular rings around the tail. The belly is pale with blackish marks. It inflates its body and hisses loudly by expelling air through its dorsallyplaced nostrils (Figure 10) when threatened.