Albinism and Leucism Among European Viperinae: a Review

László Krecsák


The records of albino, partial albino, and leucistic individuals among four species of European Viperinae (Vipera ammodytes, Vipera aspis, Vipera seoanei, and Vipera berus) were summarized based on literature records, museum material, reports of field herpetologists and herpetoculturists, and a short description of all reported specimens was made. For the first three species only scattered observations have been made (1, 1, and 6 reports), whereas at Vipera berus these defects proved to be more widespread (16 reports), and present an occurrence pattern shift to the Nordic countries. Different hypotheses are postulated on the offset geographic distribution pattern of albinism and leucism at this species, taking into account the differences in predation pressure and population densities between populations in Southern and Northern Europe. The possible negative effect of the color defects on the fitness and survival of the specimens carrying them is debated.


Vipera ammodytes; Vipera aspis; Vipera seoanei; Vipera berus; fitness; survival

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