The Asp viper is a venomous snake that occurs in southwestern Europe. The head of this snake is broad, triangular and quite distinct from the neck. The tip of the snout is slightly but distinctly upturned. Males are generally grey in color while the females can be grey, brown and various shades of orange. The dorsal markings vary strongly but only rarely take the form of a clear zigzag pattern.
Asp vipers are found in France, Andorra, northeastern Spain, extreme southwestern Germany in the southern Black Forest, Switzerland, Italy, San Marino, and northwestern Slovenia. These snakes have specific habitat requirements. They need warm areas that are exposed to the sun, structured vegetation and comparatively dry soils. In Italy and France, they are often found in areas with low mountains or hills, notably in limestone regions, but sometimes occur in lower plains. They prefer vegetated areas or environments with at least some coverage. Here they can be found on sunny slopes, on scrublands, in glades, in mountain meadows, forest clearings, at the borders of woods, in rubbish dumps and in stone quarries. In Italy, Asp vipers occur in mesic chestnut/oak woodlands and often near streams.
Asp vipers are diurnal snakes and lead a solitary life. During the hot weather, they become more active in the evenings. These snakes live in burrows made by small rodents such as voles or mice in which they also hibernate during cold winter months. Asp vipers are calm and cautious in their nature. They are not aggressive and when disturbed prefer to flee and hide in cover.
The breeding season for Asp vipers occurs between April and May. Females give birth to 5-12 live young after the gestation period that lasts around 3 or 4 months. Baby vipers are born fully developed and are able to hunt their first prey a few days after birth.
The main threat to Asp vipers is the loss of habitat due to agricultural industry and urbanization. They are also collected for the pet trade and persecuted because of fear. Road mortality poses another threat in some areas.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Asp viper total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.