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World's Most Deadly Venomous Snakes

Updated on July 8, 2009

Top 5 Listing of the Worlds Most Deadly Venomous Snakes

Establishing a list of the world's most deadly venomous snakes is more challenging than it may seem. There are a variety of factors to evaluate in making this determination. For the purposes of this report, I looked mainly at the potential lethality of a bite from one of these snakes, rather than factors such as their aggressiveness and habitat in proximity to populated areas.

Factors I used in making my choices, besides the toxicity of the venom, included the amounts of venom injected in a typical bite, the reported history of lethal bites and availability of antivenin to treat a potential bite.

Although debatable, I believe most people would agree that the snakes on my list, are species you would not want to encounter and be bitten by.

For this list, I selected several representative venomous snakes from each of the major venomous snake inhabited, geographical areas of the world. These are snakes that pose a substantial, potential health risk to persons living in these regions, based on the potential lethality of a bite.

(picture of Inland Taipan).

Dangerous But Important to the Eco-system!

Although these snakes may pose a danger to humans, they are an essential part of their local eco-systems. They are responsible for controlling the population of rodents, which are far more dangerous to humans, since they carry disease and destroy vast amounts of grain and food.

These are snakes to be RESPECTED and avoided, but should NEVER be killed indiscriminately! These amazing reptiles should be protected and left alone to do their job.

The Inland Taipan (aka Fierce Snake) of Australia

World's Deadliest Snake #1

Inland Taipan(Oxyuranus microlepidotus)

Found only in Australia, the Inland Taipan is the most toxic snake on Earth. Just a single bite from this snake contains enough venom to kill 100 human adults. Luckily, antivenin is now available, prior to its development, few people survived a bite from this snake. Its venom is 200-400 times more toxic than most rattlesnakes and 50 times as toxic as a cobra. The Inland Taipan's extremely neurotoxic venom can kill an adult human in as little as 45 minutes, without treatment.

The Inland Taipan consumes mostly rodents, birds and rats. They kill with quick, multiple strikes, injecting venom into their victim. The venom clots the victim's blood, blocking arteries or veins and using up clotting factors. It is also highly neurotoxic, leading to symptoms of paralysis, respiratory failure and cardiac arrythmia. There are no known survivors of a Taipan bite before an antivenin was developed and, even then, victims often require extended periods of intensive care.

Fortunately this snake is very shy and inhabits arid and unpopulated areas of the "outback". The Inland Taipan is native to the arid regions of central Australia, extending from the southeast part of the Northern Territory, and into west Queensland. The Inland Taipan can also be found north of Lake Eyre and to the west of the split of the Murray River, Darling River and Murrumbidgee River.

The Inland Taipan is dark tan, ranging from a rich, dark hue to a brownish olive-green, depending on the season. Its back, sides and tail may be different shades of brown and grey, with many scales having a wide blackish edge. It adapts to the environment by changing the color of the skin during seasonal changes. This snake tends to be lighter in summer and darker in winter. The seasonal color change serves in regulating the snake's temperature, allowing the snake to absorb more light (thence converted to heat) in the colder months. Inland Taipans average between 6½ to 12 feet long (2 to 3.6 meters).


range of inland taipan

Inland Taipan Video - Snake in captivity shedding it's skin

King Cobra of India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia

Worlds Deadliest Snake #2

King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)

The King Cobra is the world's longest venomous snake, with a length that can be as large as 22 ft (6.7 m). This species is widespread, but not common, throughout Southeast Asia and parts of India. It lives in dense highland forests and has a preference for areas dotted with lakes and streams.Its genus name, Ophiophagus, literally means "snake-eater", and its diet primarily consists of other snakes, including sizeable pythons and even smaller members of its own species.

The King Cobra's favourite meal is the Ratsnake, which feeds on rats. This occasionally leads King Cobras near human settlements as rats are drawn to garbage and debris. Ratsnakes follow the rats and King Cobras follow the Ratsnakes!

The King Cobra has two short, fixed fangs in the front of the mouth which channel venom into the prey like hypodermic needles. The male is larger and thicker than the female. The average lifespan of a King Cobra is about 20 years.

The venom of the King Cobra is primarily neurotoxic, and the snake is fully capable of killing a human with a single bite. The mortality rate from a bite can be as high as 75%. The large amount of venom in a single bite allows the King Cobra to kill faster and to kill larger animals than other serpents. The King Cobra can kill up to five times faster than the black mamba, so it just takes a few minutes to kill a human, and it can even kill an Asian Elephant within three hours if the larger animal is bitten in a vulnerable area such as the trunk.

Their venom is not the most potent among venomous snakes, but the amount of neurotoxin they can deliver in a single bite-up to two-tenths of a fluid ounce (seven milliliters)-is enough to kill 20 people. Their venom attacks the victim's central nervous system and quickly induces severe pain, blurred vision, vertigo, drowsiness, and paralysis. In one to two minutes, cardiovascular collapse occurs, and the victim falls into a coma. Death soon follows due to respiratory failure.

There are two types of antivenin made specifically to treat King Cobra envenomations. The Red Cross in Thailand manufactures one, and the Central Research Institute in India manufactures the other; however, both are made in small quantities and are not widely available

(Range of the King Cobra in Southeast Asia)

King Cobra Video - Snake in the wild confronted by Austin Stevens

Venomous Snakes of India - Field Guide

Snakes of India, The Field Guide
Snakes of India, The Field Guide

A definitive color field guide to more than 150 species of Indian snakes, both venomous and non-venomous, including most species found in Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Each species account includes description, distribution map, natural history, look alikes and scalation details. Includes sections on snakebites, snake people in India, laws protecting snakes and a complete up-to-date checklist. Color photographs.


Boomslang of Africa

Worlds Deadliest Snake #3

Boomslang: (Dispholidus typus)

The Boomslang is a tree dweller that is found throughout southern and sub-Saharan Africa. It inhabits wooded grasslands and the adult snake averages between 4 to 6 feet in length. Their diet consists mainly of small lizards and birds. If agitated, the Boomslang moves quickly and will inflate its neck to double its normal size right before striking its victim. Equipped with stereoscopic vision, the Boomslang hunts during the day in its arboreal territory.

The Boomslang excretes a powerful venom through rear fangs located beneath the eye area. This snake is deadly because of its preference for aerial positioning in tree top and shrub cover. Hard to see in the thick forested cover of the savanna, the Boomslang Snake is well camouflaged and strikes without giving any warning signal.

The Boomslang delivers a potent hemotoxic venom to its victim through large, deeply grooved folded fangs positioned in the rear of its mouth The hemotoxic venom delivered by the Boomslang, affects the circulatory system destroying red blood cells, causing organ degeneration and generalized tissue damage. Bites cause intense pain, swelling and necrosis even when delivered in small amounts. In addition, the bite causes severe bleeding, continuing for extended periods, even 24-48 hours after the bite, making the Boomslang very dangerous to man. The bite can be fatal if left untreated quickly with antivenin.


Boomslang Video

Black Mamba of Africa

World's Deadliest Snake #4

Black Mamba(Dendroaspis polylepis)

The Black Mamba is found throughout most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and is incredibly fast, traveling at speeds of up to 12 miles per hour. It's also large; the second largest snake in Africa, averaging 8.2' (2.5m) and getting as long as 14' (4.5m). The Black Mamba is aggressive and territorial, characteristics not usually attributed to snakes. This snake is usually found in an olive green color - it's the inside of its mouth that is black!

African villagers and experts alike fear the intense pain and suffering the mamba inflicts on its victims. Its poison is neuro-toxic. Unlike most poisonous snakes where the venom travels slowly through the blood stream, allowing a victim time to get treatment and to isolate the poison using a tourniquet, the black mamba's poison goes straight for the nerves, attacking the central nervous system and shutting down major organs. Twenty minutes after being bitten you may lose the ability to talk. After one hour you're probably comatose, and by six hours, without an antidote, you are dead.

When feeling very threatened, the Black Mamba usually delivers multiple strikes, injecting its potent neuro- and cardiotoxin with each strike, often attacking the body or head, unlike most other snakes. It can strike up to 12 times in a row. A single bite from a Black Mamba can inject enough venom to kill up to 10-25 grown men, easily killing one unless the appropriate anti-venom is administered in time. When cornered, it will readily attack. When in the striking position, the mamba flattens its neck, hisses very loudly and displays its inky black mouth and fangs. It can rear up around one-third of its body from the ground, which allows it to reach heights of approximately four feet.

In the past, the mortality rate for a Black Mamba bite was nearly 100%, the highest among venomous snakes. Now, because of the development of effective antivenin in Africa, the rate has been decreased to 75% (25% of bite victims now receive antivenin in time to be effective). Depending on the nature of a bite, death can result in as little as 30 minutes or it may take up to 120-180 minutes.

Black Mamba (in captivity)

Black Mamba Video - Black Mamba in the wild

Venomous Snakes of Africa

Terralog: Venomous Snakes of Africa (Terralog Vol. 15)
Terralog: Venomous Snakes of Africa (Terralog Vol. 15)

This volume of TERRALOG is a presentation of the venomous snakes of Africa.

It portrays about 136 taxa and forms of the families Atractaspidae, Elapidae and Viperidae, and covers the entire African continent. Besides species that are illustrated in color photographs for the first time, this book also contains photographs of some undescribed forms.

This second volume of the TERRALOG series on venomous snakes of the world is dedicated to the venomous snakes of Africa as defined by political frontiers.

We have therefore omitted the species native to the Egyptian Sinai peninsula that are of Arabian or Oriental origins and will be covered in another volume of TERRALOG.

Exceptions are Echis coloratus and Walterinnesia aegyptia, which also occur in the Egyptian mainland.

Every photograph is accompanied by a symbol-based overview of the individual species terrarium requirements. Information on natural habitats and dietary preferences will contribute to their successful keeping and breeding in captivity.

With over 480 color photographs and 78 color maps this book is a very well illustrated reference guide for scientists as well as terrarium keepers.

At the same time it is a unique synopsis of the diversity of African venomous snakes that will excite and electrify everybody with an interest in those beautiful and fascinating snakes! 148 pages, hardcover


The Bushmaster of South and Central America

World's Deadliest Snake #5

Bushmaster - (Lachesis muta muta)

The Bushmaster, lachesis muta muta is the largest Pit Viper in the world with a nasty reputation as a "cruel dude". The Bushmaster is a huge, thick-bodied and highly venomous snake with a triangularly shaped head, one of nature's warning signs that a snake is poisonous and potentially deadly. Bushmasters live in remote, heavily forested tropical jungle terrain. Isolated in their jungle environment, envenomation by a Bushmaster is very serious, sometimes fatal and particularly dangerous to humans.

Bushmaster is the largest venomous snake in the New World, often reaching lengths in excess of 6 feet with a maximum recorded length reaching an amazing 14 feet!

The Bushmaster has earned this fierce reputation, known to aggressively attack man but only few human attacks have been recorded due primarily to the Bushmaster's nocturnal nature. Even if they do attack only occasionally, the Bushmaster is greatly feared by people indigenous to their jungle habitat. Appropriately named in English, the name Bushmaster when translated from Latin means "Brings Silent Death". One of the largest and most dangerous snakes in South America, the Bushmaster is capable of multiple bite strikes, injecting large amount of venom and even the bite of a juvenile Bushmaster can be fatal. In the case

The Bushmaster has extremely long fangs

Snake venom delivered by the Bushmaster has powerful Hemotoxic properties affecting the circulatory system destroying red blood cells causing organ degeneration and generalized tissue damage which can be fatal if left untreated

The Bushmaster is the largest Pit Viper in the world. This snake has a triangular shaped head with rough scales.

Known to aggressively attack, particularly when agitated or startled.

Tropical forested areas throughout Central and South America


Bushmaster Video - Austin Stevens capture in the wilds of Equador

Venomous Snake Guide to South and Central America

The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere, 2 Vol. Set (Comstock Books in Herpetology)
The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere, 2 Vol. Set (Comstock Books in Herpetology)

Since the publication of The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America by Cornell University Press in 1989, scientific discoveries and taxonomic changes have resulted in the addition of many taxa and species to the herpetological fauna of the Western Hemisphere. This updated, heavily rewritten, and greatly expanded version of that book now includes accounts of all 192 species of venomous snakes and lizards found in the Western Hemisphere. This two-volume set is illustrated with stunning color photographs, including portraits of venomous reptiles (many of which are unique in showing newly discovered species and views of male, female, and juvenile individuals); images of snakebites, an important tool for diagnosis and treatment; color vegetation and topographic maps; black-and-white photographs; line figures; and completely revised distribution maps.

Volume I includes a list of tables, preface, introduction, and regional/country accounts with related bilingual identification keys and vegetation and topographic maps. Genus and species accounts in this volume treat the lizards, coralsnakes, seasnakes, and all the pitvipers except rattlesnakes; these accounts are accompanied by color photographs of each species. Volume I also contains a complete index to both volumes.

Volume II includes descriptions of all known species of rattlesnakes. It also features four chapters by experts on mimicry, evolution, and snakebite treatment in tropical and temperate America. A glossary, literature-cited section, and index serve both volumes. Color photographs portray rattlesnakes, mimics, and the damage done by snakebite.

The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere, Volumes I and II is an essential reference for all naturalists interested in herpetology--amateurs impressed by the beauty and complexity of venomous reptiles as well as professional herpetologists and their students conducting research in the classroom, at the zoo, and in the field.


What's Your Pick for the Deadliest Snake? - Reader Comments and Feedback Welcom

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    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 5 years ago

      Snakes are important too, they are an integral part of the ecosystem.

    • profile image

      murali-shanmugam-5 5 years ago

      They are beautiful creatures of the Earth.nice to watch them but(a big but)dangerous to touch.

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 5 years ago from California

      Yikes. Snakes are pretty scary to me mainly because they are so silent that you can walk right up to them and not know it. Then, they can strike so quickly that you don't have time to dodge the attack. Thanks for letting us know that even though they are scary and dangerous to humans that they are needed. Excellent lens. Blessed. Bear hugs, Frankster

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      Septamia 6 years ago

      Frankly, never knew that living in Australia such terrible snake!

      Thanks for the info, now I'm afraid there will be.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Thanks for the info ~ adding to a lens on reptiles I am working on. :)

    • natureplanet profile image

      natureplanet 8 years ago

      excellent coverage of snakes. you obviously like them

    • profile image

      tdove 8 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!