The 9 Most Venomous Snakes In Russia: Avoid These Snakes

venomous snake
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Russia is an enormous landmass with a huge array of environments, perfect for creatures to hide away in the shadows. The country is riddled with dangerous animals, big and small. But besides the bears and big cats, what about venomous snakes in Russia?

There are over 50 species of snake in Russia, about 11 of which are venomous and dangerous to humans. If you’re planning to hike through the backcountry and explore Russia’s wilderness, it will pay off to educate yourself on what Russian serpents you need to stay well away from.

Here are the 9 most dangerous and venomous snakes in Russia.

Common European Adder

European adder, vipera berus, hissing with a tongue sticking out on a stone in the middle of a meadow. Dangerous wild reptile basking on a sun. Wild serpent in summer nature.
Photo by WildMediaSK from Envato Elements
Latin NameVipera berus
Key Features– Thick bodied and large flat heads
– Between 55-60 cm on average
– Color and pattern varies, but most have a zig-zag pattern down the length of the body
Conservation StatusLeast concern

The common European adder, vipera berus, is also commonly known as the common northern viper. It’s a widespread species found across most of Europe, Russia, and as far as East Asia. This common snake is part of much local folklore and is generally non-aggressive. However, that being said, they are a venomous snake species and a bite should be avoided.

Encounters with the vipera berus are increasing in correlation with the rate of human expansion into their natural habitats. The venom toxicity is relatively low compared to other viper species, however, you should still seek medical attention as soon as possible after any bite. Occasionally, bites can be life-threatening, especially for small children, with discomfort and some symptoms lasting long after the bite.

Blunt Nosed Viper

butter ball royal python moorish viper boa snake on a branch with flowers on dark background
Photo by Santiaga from Envato Elements
Latin NameMacrovipera lebetinus
Key Features– Large snake reaching up to 150 cm
– Broad and triangular head with a distinctive rounded snout
– Grey/brown body with a darker zig-zag pattern down the length
Conservation StatusEndangered

Blunt nosed vipers are known as gyurza (gjurza) in Russian. This venomous viper species is found across many Middle Eastern countries, North Africa, and Russia. It’s a particularly large snake with some female individuals growing up to 150 cm in length – that’s a whopping great big serpent to encounter! They are aptly named with a blunt and rounded nose on a broad head that is distinct from the body.

The venom in the blunt nosed viper is some of the strongest in the world making it one of the deadliest snakes in the wild. The venom spreads rapidly throughout the body of the prey or unfortunate victim, often leading to serious complications and potentially even death.

They are generally found close to water sources and have even been seen in private swimming pools. Blunt nosed vipers are most active throughout the spring months after they awaken from hibernation.

Saw-scaled Viper

A close up of a viper snake head, nose, and scales
Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash
Latin NameEchis carinatus
Key Features– Sizes range between 38 and 80 cm
– Keel-shaped scales with serrated edges along the flank
– Pale-brown ground color with white bow patterns along the length
Conservation StatusLeast concern

The saw-scaled viper is one of the venomous snake species that are most commonly responsible for snake bites across the globe. They are commonly encountered in built-up and populated areas, while often going unnoticed due to their inconspicuous nature. These vipers are most commonly found under loose rocks.

They are named due to the keel-shaped scales with serrated flanks, another well-named snake species. The diet varies due to environmental factors and what is available; most feed on rodents, lizards, frogs, and large insects.

On average, saw-scaled vipers produce about 18 mg of dry venom by weight, with the most ever recorded at 72 mg. A lethal dose for an adult is estimated to be only 5 mg. This means a snakebite from a saw-scaled viper is serious and antivenom should be sourced immediately to combat systematic symptoms.

Siberian Pit Viper

Poisonous common viper, vipera berus, crawling on the ground in autumn. Toxic reptile observing from dry grass from side. Wild snake looking from fall nature.
Photo by WildMediaSK from Envato Elements
Latin NameGloydius halys
Key Features– Maximum length of 59 cm
– Colors vary between grayish, pale brown, reddish, or yellowish
– Often found in mountainous regions
Conservation StatusLeast concern

The Siberian pit viper is a venomous species of snake found across Russia and parts of Asia. They are quite stout snakes with a slightly upturned snout when viewed side-on. Colors vary but are typically grayish, pale brown, reddish, or yellowish, with large dark spots or crossbars. There is also typically a wide dark stripe behind the eye that is bordered by light stripes above and below.

There are several other common names for the Siberian pit viper:

  • Halys viper
  • Pallas’ pit viper
  • Asiatic pit viper
  • Asiatic moccasin
  • Korean pit viper
  • Mongolian pit viper

Not a lot is known about the Siberian pit viper’s venom as it’s not a commonly encountered snake. However, we can safely assume, if bitten, the victim will experience the standard symptoms of pain, swelling, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. In extreme cases, there may also be some disorientation and breathing difficulties.

Kaznakow’s Viper

A coiled viper with dark scales and a orange pattern along the body
Photo by kkchome from Flickr
Latin NameVipera kaznakovi
Key Features– Average length of between 65 to 70 cm
– Typically dark in color with occasional orange or yellow patterning
– Often found in forested slopes and wet ravines
Conservation StatusEndangered

Kaznakow’s viper is a species of venomous snake found across Russia, Turkey, and Georgia. They are also commonly known as the Western Caucasus Viper, however, the name kaznakow was given in honor of the Russian naturalist, Aleksandr Nikolaevich Kaznakov. These snakes are mostly distributed throughout wet habitats, in ravines, and on forested mountain slopes.

In 2008, the IUCN red list of endangered species listed the Kaznakow viper as endangered due to the rapidly decreasing population numbers in the wild. Unfortunately, this snake species is threatened by illegal overcollection for the international pet trade. However, this isn’t the only major threat to this snake species. Other threats include:

  • habitat conversion for urban development
  • tourism
  • agriculture

Amur Rat Snake

Close up Steppe ratsnake or Elaphe dione on ground
Photo by Yakov_Oskanov from Envato Elements
Latin NameElaphe schrenckii
Key Features– Large snake that can grow up to 1.4–1.8 m in length
– Great variation in color, most are dark brown
– Often found in wetlands
Conservation StatusVulnerable

The Amur rat snake goes by many names: Manchurian black racer, Manchurian black water snake, Russian rat snake, Schrenck’s rat snake, and Siberian rat snake. They are one of the larger snake species found in Russia with some individuals growing up to 6 feet in length. As the name suggests, they are located in the southeastern Amur region of Russia.

Despite the incredible size, this species is docile and one of the safest snakes to handle. The venom is also very mild and does not pose a threat to humans.

This rat snake species is often found in wetland environments and is an excellent swimmer. They can also survive in much cooler conditions than most other species; the Amur rat snake can be found up to 2,000 m (6,600 ft) altitude.

Mamushi Japanese Pit Viper

Mountain Pit Viper, wild snake
Photo by ckstockphoto from Envato Elements
Latin NameGloydius blomhoffii
Key Features– Average length between 45-81 cm
– Colors vary from pale gray, reddish-brown, or yellow-brown with blotches
– Found in Kunasir Island (the southernmost island of the Kuril Islands archipelago) in Russia
Conservation StatusLeast concern

The Mamushi Japanese Pit Viper is one of the most venomous snakes in Russia and Japan. Every year, over 3,000 people are bitten with serious complications by this snake species.

These are solitary snakes that are active and hunt during the day. They feed mainly on small rodents, but also small birds, lizards, and insects.

Mamushi Japanese pit vipers are often killed out of fear from locals and farmers. However, the population numbers remain stable and they are not at risk of endangering at the present time.

Tiger Keelback

Tiger snakes are a highly venomous snake species; tiger snake swimming on the waters surface
Photo by zambezi from Envato Elements
Latin NameRhabdophis tigrinus
Key Features– Grows between 60 cm to 1 m in length
– Olive-drab green in color, with black and bright orange crossbars or spots
– Found in eastern Russia, Primorskiy and Khabarovsk regions
Conservation StatusNot evaluated

The tiger keelback is a venomous snake native to East Asia and is also found in eastern parts of Russia. Marking and coloring on this species are fairly prominent and make them a relatively easy snake to identify. They are found in mixed and deciduous forests, flooded terrain, ponds, and around other water sources.

Keelback snakes have glands in the neck that discharge any poison they may ingest from eating poisonous toads. These glands secrete a caustic secretion that also scares away predators. And so, the saliva and secretion of the upper labial glands in contact with a wound or bite can cause severe poisoning.

When threatened, the tiger keelback adopt a characteristic posture: almost vertically raised with a flattened front third of the body, both hissing and striking towards the threat. So if you spot one of these moving through the water, stay well out of its way!

Caspian Cobra

A head shot of a caspian cobra with hood and forked tongue on display
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
Latin NameNaja oxiana
Key Features– Average length is between 1 m and 1.5 m
– Iconic cobra hood with several dark bands under the throat
– Often found near water and can easily climb trees
Conservation StatusNot evaluated

Caspian cobras – also called a Central Asian cobra, ladle snake, Oxus cobra, or Russian cobra – are another venomous species of snake in Russia and are endemic to Central Asia. Despite similar appearances, this is an entirely different species of snake to the Indian cobra.

They are heavy-bodied snakes with long cervical ribs capable of expansion to form the iconic cobra hood. The species grows on average to about 1 meter in length. Caspian cobras normally have several dark bands under the throat.

This cobra is one of the most venomous cobras in the world. There is great variation in venom toxicity and composition based on the individual diet and habitat. Most venoms are a cocktail of neurotoxins and nonenzymatic proteins that cause cell death through damage to lysosomes.

Bites from cobra snakes are common. However, out of the 3,064 bitten by cobras, only 384 (12.5% of cobra bites) were the victims of N. oxiana, and of those, 236 were fatal (61.5%).

Python regius close up
Photo by Lifeonwhite from Envato Elements

What is the most venomous snake in Russia?

Kaznakow’s Viper is the most venomous snake in Russia, closely followed by the saw-scaled viper. Both species pack a powerful venom that is filled with neurotoxins and nonenzymatic proteins that cause debilitating systematic effects on humans if bitten. Antivenom is crucial if you’re a victim of snakebite from these vipers.

Are there any cobras in Russia?

The Caspian cobra is native to Russia and Central Asia. Despite appearance similarities, this venomous snake species is not a sub-species of the iconic Indian Cobra. Caspian cobras are generally aggressive and bad-tempered, however, they will do their best to avoid humans as much as possible.

How many venomous snakes are there in Russia?

Out of the 50+ species of snakes in Russia, about 11 are venomous. The most widely spread and prominent species include the Common European Adder, Saw-scaled viper, Siberian viper, Blunt Nosed Viper, and Kaznakow’s Viper. Other less common venomous snakes in Russia are the Mamushi Japanese Pit Viper and Tiger Keelback.

Are there pythons in Russia?

Pythons are typically found in Asia, so there could be some species on the far eastern border of Russia. However, pythons are a popular household pet in Russia along with Boa Constrictors.

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Hi! I'm Abigail, a surfer, traveller, and nature lover. I'm from the UK but have been able to call Bali home for several years. I've backpacked across Australia on a shoestring budget, explored European coastlines, and taken in the sights across the pond and down into South America. My travel wishlist keeps growing the more I explore our perfect planet!