Asp Viper France


















Vipère Aspic ~~ Vipera aspis ~~ Asp Viper

The vipère Aspic is a small snake, the majority tend to be only 20 to 30cm, although they can be much longer, possibly 75 cm and are recognisable by their triangular flattened head which is quite distinct from their bodies.  Their body although short is quite thick as is the tail and their back colouration can vary from light grey to brown and various shades of orange with a darker marks which form a  zig-zag pattern which is  irregular and often fragmented. There is a darker line or band which runs backwards from each of the eyes which have vertical slit pupils. Scales on both the top and side of the head are small. Easily confused with the Viperine snake at first glance, especially in regions where they share the same colouration.


Asp vipers can be found in all regions of France except the extreme north and north east. With a preference for dry habitats, sunny slopes, stone walls, hedgerows and similar habitats they can be observed almost anywhere although they have all but disappeared from intensive arable areas. They will often live in old holes in the ground made previously by voles, mice etc.  Hunting takes place mainly in the evenings and part of the night, prey is mainly small mammals which they seek out in their holes, killing them in a matter of moments with its venom before eating them head first. Larger prey is often released after having been bitten and are then tracked down by scent as the victim weakens.  They never eat fish or amphibians but can still be found near water. 


Although diurnal much of their activity is in the evenings, particularly in very hot weather. Calm and cautious,  their first response when disturbed is to flee for cover, in fact they are nowhere near as aggressive as some of the Couleuvres.  Their venom fangs are retracted except at the moment of biting. Many first defensive bites are "dry" with little or no venom being injected. Hibernation takes place from October until March.   (Snake bite information, what to do etc. HERE



Above left. Asp viper France Above.           Above right. Asp viper bite on a dog 48 hours after being bitten.

Coupling takes place in May accompanied by ritual confrontations between males. This species is ovoviviparous and the female produces anything from 2 to 12 young in a protective membrane which they break out of in a matter of a few minutes after being released using forceful movements of their heads. The first moult or skin shedding (sloughing) takes place almost immediately and they are already capable of injecting small quantities of venom and killing their own prey.



Population: in decline

All snakes in France are fully protected species