Clinical Toxinology Resources Home
Echis carinatus
General Details, Taxonomy and Biology, Venom, Clinical Effects, Treatment, First Aid , Antivenoms
Echis carinatus  ( Indian Saw scaled Viper )  [ Original photo copyright © Dr Wolfgang Wuster ]
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Echis
Species: carinatus
Common Names
Indian Saw-scaled Viper , Phoorsa , Little Indian Viper , Saw-Scaled Viper
Local Names
Bankoray , Taracha , Afai , Kallu Havu , Churuta , Phoorsa , Surutai Pambu , Vali Polonga , Surattai Pambu
Indian Sub-continent
India, Sri Lanka
Taxonomy and Biology
Adult Length: 0.30 m
General Shape
Small in length, cylindrical and moderately slender bodied snake with a very short tail. Can grow to a maximum of about 0.80 metres. However, averages about 0.40 metres and rarely exceeds 0.60 metres. Head is broad, flat, triangular shaped and distinct from neck. Snout is short and blunt. Eyes are moderately large in size with vertically elliptical pupils. Head scales are keeled. Dorsal scales are dull, strongly keeled and imbricate with apical pits. Lower lateral body scales are markedly serrated. Dorsal scale count usually ( 25 to 29 ) - ( 27 to 37 ) - ( 21 to 27 ).
Arid desert and semi arid areas with sandy soils, scrub jungles, thorny plants or thick vegetation, under rocks or in rock crevices. Often found in small hills and scrub jungles.
Mainly nocturnal, but fond of basking in the scorching midday heat. Often lies in the sand with only the head exposed and sometimes found among branches of small shrubs. If disturbed it assumes an S-shaped coil position and rubs the sides of the body together making a rasping sound. Very nervous, irritable and aggressive disposition, quick to strike at the slightest provocation and does not try to escape.
Feeds mainly on rodents, frogs, lizards, arthropods and small snakes.
Species Map
Small (Approx 20k) version
Average Venom Qty
20 to 35 mg ( dry weight ), U.S. Dept. Navy (1968) ( Ref : R000914 ).

20 to 35 mg ( dry weight ), Minton (1974) ( Ref : R000504 ).

Iran : 15 ± 2 mg ( n=18227 ) ( dry weight of milked venom ), Latifi (1984) ( Ref : R000482 ).
General: Venom Neurotoxins
Not present
General: Venom Myotoxins
Not present
General: Venom Procoagulants
Mixture of procoagulants
General: Venom Anticoagulants
Possibly present
General: Venom Haemorrhagins
Zinc metalloproteinase
General: Venom Nephrotoxins
Possibly present
General: Venom Cardiotoxins
Probably not present
General: Venom Necrotoxins
Possibly present
General: Venom Other
Clinical Effects
General: Dangerousness
Severe envenoming possible, potentially lethal
General: Rate of Envenoming: >80%
General: Untreated Lethality Rate: 1-10%
General: Local Effects
Marked local effects; pain, severe swelling, bruising, blistering, necrosis
General: Local Necrosis
Common, moderate to severe
General: General Systemic Effects
Variable non-specific effects which may include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, dizziness, collapse or convulsions
General: Neurotoxic Paralysis
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Myotoxicity
Does not occur, based on current clinical evidence
General: Coagulopathy & Haemorrhages
Common, moderate to severe coagulopathy + haemorrhagins causing extensive bleeding
General: Renal Damage
Recognised complication, usually secondary to coagulopathy
General: Cardiotoxicity
Unlikely to occur
General: Other
Shock secondary to fluid shifts due to local tissue injury is likely in severe cases
First Aid
Description: First aid for bites by Viperid snakes likely to cause significant local injury at the bite site (see listing in Comments section).
1. After ensuring the patient and onlookers have moved out of range of further strikes by the snake, the bitten person should be reassured and persuaded to lie down and remain still. Many will be terrified, fearing sudden death and, in this mood, they may behave irrationally or even hysterically. The basis for reassurance is the fact that many venomous bites do not result in envenoming, the relatively slow progression to severe envenoming (hours following elapid bites, days following viper bites) and the effectiveness of modern medical treatment.
2. The bite wound should not be tampered with in any way. Wiping it once with a damp cloth to remove surface venom is unlikely to do much harm (or good) but the wound must not be massaged.
3. All rings or other jewellery on the bitten limb, especially on fingers, should be removed, as they may act as tourniquets if oedema develops.
4. The bitten limb should be immobilised as effectively as possible using an extemporised splint or sling; if available, crepe bandaging of the splinted limb is an effective form of immobilisation.
5. If there is any impairment of vital functions, such as problems with respiration, airway, circulation, heart function, these must be supported as a priority. In particular, for bites causing flaccid paralysis, including respiratory paralysis, both airway and respiration may be impaired, requiring urgent and prolonged treatment, which may include the mouth to mask (mouth to mouth) technique of expired air transfer. Seek urgent medical attention.
6. Do not use Tourniquets, cut, suck or scarify the wound or apply chemicals or electric shock.
7. Avoid peroral intake, absolutely no alcohol. No sedatives outside hospital. If there will be considerable delay before reaching medical aid, measured in several hours to days, then give clear fluids by mouth to prevent dehydration.
8. If the offending snake has been killed it should be brought with the patient for identification (only relevant in areas where there are more than one naturally occurring venomous snake species), but be careful to avoid touching the head, as even a dead snake can envenom. No attempt should be made to pursue the snake into the undergrowth as this will risk further bites.
9. The snakebite victim should be transported as quickly and as passively as possible to the nearest place where they can be seen by a medically-trained person (health station, dispensary, clinic or hospital). The bitten limb must not be exercised as muscular contraction will promote systemic absorption of venom. If no motor vehicle or boat is available, the patient can be carried on a stretcher or hurdle, on the pillion or crossbar of a bicycle or on someone's back.
10. Most traditional, and many of the more recently fashionable, first aid measures are useless and potentially dangerous. These include local cauterization, incision, excision, amputation, suction by mouth, vacuum pump or syringe, combined incision and suction ("venom-ex" apparatus), injection or instillation of compounds such as potassium permanganate, phenol (carbolic soap) and trypsin, application of electric shocks or ice (cryotherapy), use of traditional herbal, folk and other remedies including the ingestion of emetic plant products and parts of the snake, multiple incisions, tattooing and so on.
Treatment Summary
Echis bites cause moderate to severe, potentially lethal envenoming, requiring urgent assessment & treatment, including IV fluids, IV antivenom and good wound care.
Key Diagnostic Features
Local pain, swelling, blistering, necrosis + coagulopathy, bleeding, renal failure
General Approach to Management
All cases should be treated as urgent & potentially lethal. Rapid assessment & commencement of treatment including appropriate antivenom (if indicated & available) is mandatory. Admit all cases.
Antivenom Therapy
Antivenom is the key treatment for systemic envenoming. Multiple doses may be required.
1. Antivenom Code: SAsCRI01
Antivenom Name: Polyvalent Anti Snake Venom Serum
Manufacturer: Central Research Institute
Phone: ++91-1-792-72114
Address: Kasauli (H.P.) 173204
Country: India
2. Antivenom Code: SAsHBI01
Antivenom Name: Snake Antivenin I.P. (Lyophilized Polyvalent Enzyme Refined Equine Immunoglobulins)
Manufacturer: Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd
Phone: ++91-22-412-9320 (up to 22)
Address: Acharya Donde Marg,
Mumbai 400012,
Country: India
3. Antivenom Code: SAsPIH01
Antivenom Name: Polyvalent Antisnake Venom Serum
Manufacturer: Biological Production Division, National Institute of Health
Phone: ++92-51-925-5090 (up to -94)
++92-51-925-5110 (up to -14)
Address: Islamabad
Country: Pakistan
4. Antivenom Code: SAsRII02
Antivenom Name: Polyvalent Snake Antivenin
Manufacturer: Razi Serum and Vaccine Research Institute
Phone: +98 261 3119708
Address: Iran Karaj  P.O. Box : 31975/148  Post No. :3197619751
Country: I.R. Iran
5. Antivenom Code: SAsSII01
Antivenom Name: SII Polyvalent Antisnake Venom Serum ( lyophilized )
Manufacturer: Serum Institute of India Ltd.
Phone: +91-20-26993900
Address: 212/2, Hadapsar,
Off Soli Poonawalla Road,
Pune-411042. India
Country: India
6. Antivenom Code: SAsSII02
Antivenom Name: SII Bivalent Antisnake Venom Serum ( lyophilized )
Manufacturer: Serum Institute of India Ltd.
Phone: +91-20-26993900
Address: 212/2, Hadapsar,
Off Soli Poonawalla Road,
Pune-411042. India
Country: India
7. Antivenom Code: SAfAVC02
Antivenom Name: Polyvalent Snake Antivenom
Manufacturer: National Antivenom and Vaccine Production Centre
Phone: ++966-1-252-0088 ext 45626, 45637.
Address: P.O. Box 22490
Riyadh 11426
Country: Saudi Arabia
8. Antivenom Code: SAfSII03
Antivenom Name: SII Polyvalent Antisnake Venom Serum ( lyophilized ) ( Central Africa )
Manufacturer: Serum Institute of India Ltd.
Phone: +91-20-26993900
Address: 212/2, Hadapsar,
Off Soli Poonawalla Road,
Pune-411042. India
Country: India
9. Antivenom Code: SAfVAC02
Antivenom Name: Polyvalent Snake Venom Antiserum
Manufacturer: VACSERA
Phone: (+20 2) 3761-1111
Address: 51 Wezaret El Zeraa St., Agouza, Giza, 22311
Country: Egypt
Echis carinatus ( Indian Saw scaled Viper ) [ Original photo copyright © Dr Wolfgang Wuster ]
Larger version
Echis carinatus ( Indian Saw scaled Viper ) [ Original photo copyright © Dr Jurg Meier ]
Larger version
Find a Reference
Reference Number: