Viper, the Common British, or Coluber Berus, L. a reptile which inhabits the dry, chalky, or stony counties, and particularly the Hebrides. It seldom exceeds 18 inches, or 2 feet, in length ; and is, in general, of a dusky yellow cast; though a variety of a black colour is also occasionally met with. T head is inflated, and furnished with a long hollow fang, that opens at the point. The tongue is forked ; the front teeth are small ; and the four canine teeth in either jaw are crooked and flexible, being raised, or lowered, for instilling the poison.
These noxious animals are viviparous, producing seven or eight vipers, from eggs that are hatched internally, after a gestation of about three months. They feed on frogs, toads, lizards, mice, and even on birds, which they swallow entire : when the young vipers are in danger, they retreat into the maternal uterus.
Having already pointed out (article Poison) the treatment to be adopted, if any person be stung by vipers, we shall at present only remark, that the flesh of these vermin is very nutritious; so that it proves an excellent restorative to persons reduced by long continued sickness; and, though its virtues may have been exaggerated, it may be beneficially eaten by those who are afflicted with leprous, scorbutic, rheumatic, or other chronical complaints.