The Meadow viper is a very rare venomous snake, that is in danger of extinction. The smallest viper in Europe, its body is thick, its head narrow, and its appearance rough. The snout is not upturned. There are always several large scales or plates on the top of the head. The prominently keeled dorsal scales are in only 19 rows, and often dark skin shows between them. It is gray, tan, or yellowish with a dark undulating dorsal stripe, which is edged with black. Females of this species are larger than males.
Meadow vipers are found in France, central Italy, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, and possibly Moldova. They inhabit steppe, meadows, dry slopes with shrubs, pasturelands, and rocky hillsides.
Meadow vipers are generally solitary and active from April to October. In spring, these snakes can be active during the day, and during hot summer months in the morning and evening. On land, Meadow vipers move slowly, but swim well and can climb the branches of shrubs and trees. When hunting they visit colonies of small rodents and nests of birds.
The breeding season of Meadow vipers usually takes place between April and May. After the gestation period of 90-120 days, females give birth to up to 22 live young. The newly born snakebites are 11-13 cm (4.3-5 in) long and weigh 3.2-4.4 g (0.1-0.14 oz). They become reproductively mature when they are 3 years old and measure 27-30 cm (10.6-11.8 in).
The Meadow viper is the most threatened snake in Europe. Populations of this species suffer from habitat destruction caused by changes in agricultural practices and climate change in mountain areas. They also suffer greatly from the collection for the pet trade and can be threatened with extinction if the trade is not halted. Other important threats to this species include fires, constructions, leisure activities, afforestation, and persecution by humans.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Meadow viper total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.