Vipera aspis zinnikeri   Kramer, 1958

Distribution and habitat: In Spain the zinnikeri subspecies occupies the Pyrenees mountain range axis (Duguy et al., 1979) from Roncesvalles in the province of Navarra in the west to Andorra in the east.

It inhabits alpine environments with dense vegetation and a certain degree of humidity. Vipera aspis zinnikeri specimens have been found above 3000 mts (9850 feet) a.s.l.

Vipera aspis
Vipera aspis zinnikeri, adult male - photo: Daniel Gómez

Colouration: Specimens with an overall orange or yellowish colouration are predominant within the subspecies, however, grey or brownish specimens are also found. The dorsal pattern or zigzag is wide and prominent; it consists of a faint longitudinal line bordered with transverse crossbars all along the body. The transverse crossbars are well defined and thicker than in Vipera aspis aspis. Side blotches along the body flanks are also present.

Vipera aspis
Vipera aspis zinnikeri, head detail
photo: Rafael Vázquez Graña

Head: The tip of the snout is less upturned in this subspecies than in the nominate form.

There are 2 canthals on each side of the snout, 2 apicals and 2 incomplete rows of scales between the eye and the supralabials.

Males usually have several supralabial sutures with pigmentation while females tend to have less pigmentation on the supralabials.

Pholidosis: Vipera aspis zinnikeri has 21 (very rarely 23) rows of dorsal scales. All of the dorsal scales are keeled except for the first row on either side of the body.
The number of ventral scales is 137-155 for the males and 139-159 for the females. The number of paired subcaudal scales is 33-45 for the males and 27-38 for the females (Saint-Girons, 1978).

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