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any of eight species of small venomous snakes (family Viperidae) that inhabit arid regions and dry savannas north of the Equator across Africa, Arabia, and southwestern Asia to India and Sri Lanka. They are characterized by a stout body with a pear-shaped head that is distinct from the neck, vertically elliptical pupils, rough and strongly keeled scales, and a short, thin tail. On both sides of the body are several rows of obliquely arranged, serrated scales. Adults range in length from 0.3 to 0.9 metre (1 to 3 feet). Echis coloration includes various shades of brown, gray, or orange with darker dorsal blotches and lateral spots.