Top Ten Deadliest Snakes in the World
#10: Mojave Rattlesnake
The “Mojave Rattlesnake,” also known as the “Mojave Green,” is a highly venomous rattlesnake of the pit-viper species. It is found predominantly in the desert regions of the southwestern United States as well as central Mexico, and is largely considered by scientists to possess the most poisonous venom of all rattlesnake species. The Mojave Rattlesnake grows to around 3.3 feet in length (on average), with the largest reaching lengths of 4.5 feet. The snake’s color varies from light green to brown, allowing it to easily blend in with its nearby surroundings. The snake also closely resembles the western diamondback rattler, with the only difference being white color bands along its rattle-tail.
The venom of the Mojave Rattlesnake is extremely deadly, and nearly matches the toxicity of several elapids (such as the King Cobra). Bites from the Mojave Rattler often have delayed symptoms, prompting individuals to often underestimate the severity of their bite. However, within hours, vision problems, difficulty speaking/swallowing, as well as muscle weakness are very common. Moreover, the venom often causes difficulty breathing and often leads to respiratory failure if prompt medical treatment is not sought. Despite its potency, however, fatalities from the Mojave Rattlesnake are relatively rare due to the prominence of CroFab antivenom. This antivenom, which uses the Mojave Rattlesnake venom in its manufacture and development, is highly effective for neutralizing the effects of the snake’s bites.
#9: Philippine Cobra
The “Philippine Cobra,” also known as the “Northern Philippine Cobra,” is a highly venomous species of snakes residing in the northernmost corners of the Philippine islands. The species is quite stocky and possesses a hood that can be raised when threatened. Average length of the cobra is approximately 3.3 feet. However, some of the Philippine Cobras have been known to reach lengths of 5.2 feet. The snake tends to be brown in color, with older snakes lightening in their brown appearance with age. The Philippine Cobra often inhabits the low-lying plains and forest regions of the Philippines, and is often found near sources of fresh water.
The venom of the Philippine Cobra is extremely potent, and is composed of a postsynaptic neurotoxin that directly affects the respiratory system of its victims. It is also known to cause paralysis of the neuromuscular system. Symptoms of a cobra’s bite include extreme nausea, vomiting, migraines, abdominal pain, dizziness, diarrhea, difficulty speaking and/or breathing. Unlike the Mojave Rattlesnake, symptoms often appear very rapidly (within thirty minutes). Although treatments are available to help mitigate the venom, they are not always successful as the cobra’s bites often result in death. To make matters worse, the Philippine Cobra also possesses the ability to spit its venom at potential victims, causing serious damage to the eyes of individuals (including permanent blindness).
#8: Death Adder
The “Death Adder” is a highly venomous elapid snake found in Australia, New Guinea, and the surrounding region. It is considered one of the deadliest snakes in the world, with approximately seven different species making up its overall genus. Although the Death Adder has a viper-like appearance, it is actually a member of the elapid family of snakes which includes Cobras and the Black Mambas. Death Adders are quite short, with triangular heads and small scales adorning its body. They also possess large fangs, as well as a “lure” at the end of their tail that resembles a small worm. Typically, the Death Adder maintains a shade of black or grey. However, some Death Adder species can take on a reddish-yellow, brown, or greenish-grey hue. Unlike many snakes that actively hunt, the Death Adder often lies in wait for its prey, and ambushes potential victims with lightning-fast strikes. Amazingly, the Death Adder can strike its prey and inject them with venom in less than 0.15 seconds.
The Death Adder’s venom is a highly toxic neurotoxin. Bites from a Death Adder are extremely deadly, and can result in death within six hours if treatment is not sought out. Similar to other snakes in this list, the venom often causes paralysis, as well as a complete respiratory system shutdown. Although antivenoms have been developed for the Death Adders, deaths still occur from their bite as antivenom is only able to slow down the progression of symptoms to a degree.
#7: Tiger Snake
The “Tiger Snake” is a highly venomous snake that is found along the southern sector of Australia and Tasmania. Tiger Snakes reach a size of approximately 3.93 feet in length, and come in a large variety of colors depending on their location (Olive, yellow, orange, brown, and black). Similar to cobras, the tiger snake is quite aggressive when startled, and will flatten its body in order to raise its head above ground-level. The Tiger Snake is often found in coastal regions, wetlands, and marshes due to the abundance of prey in these sorts of environments.
Of the recorded snake bites in Australia between 2005 and 2015, Tiger Snakes accounted for approximately seventeen percent of all bites in the region (Wikipedia.org). Out of 119 bites, four individuals died from complications. The Tiger Snake’s venom is comprised of highly potent neurotoxins, coagulants, myotoxins, and haemolysins. Symptoms of their bite include extreme pain in the foot and neck, body tingling, excessive sweating, numbness, trouble breathing, and paralysis. Mortality rates for untreated Tiger Snake bites is nearly sixty-percent.
#6: Chain Viper
The “Chain Viper,” also known as “Russell’s Viper,” is a venomous snake from the Viperidae family. It is found predominantly in Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, and India. These deadly snakes can reach lengths of 5.5 feet, with a width of approximately six inches. Chain Vipers possess flat, triangular heads, with rounded (and raised) snouts. Their color patterns vary by snake, but are typically yellow, tan, and brown in color. Chain Vipers are quite common, and are typically found in grasslands or brushy areas. They are also common around farms, but tend to avoid forested regions, as well as marshes, and swamps. One of the Chain Vipers primary food sources is rodents. As a result, these snakes are often found around human settlements, given the fact that rats and mice tend to stay close to humans.
Chain Vipers produce a considerable amount of venom in their bites, which are highly lethal to humans in doses of 40-70 mgs. Common symptoms from a Chain Viper bite include excessive bleeding (particularly in the gums and urine), a rapid drop in blood pressure (and heart rate), blistering, necrosis, vomiting, facial swelling, kidney failure, and blood clotting. For individuals who seek emergency attention, antivenom is relatively effective against the Chain Viper. However, pain from the bite often continues for approximately four weeks, and is known to cause severe tissue damage. Approximately 29 percent of survivors also suffer from damage to their pituitary glands.
"The snake will always bite back."— Jake Roberts
#5: Black Mamba
The “Black Mamba” is a species of extremely venomous snakes that reside in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Mamba is known for its long length, at approximately 6.6 feet to 10 feet on average. Some Black Mambas have even reached lengths of nearly 14.8 feet, making it one of the longest venomous snakes in the world. The Black Mamba often maintains a color of grey and dark brown, with adults being far darker than the younger mambas. This snake is also known to live in both the ground as well as trees. As a result, they are often found along savannas, woodlands, forests, and rockier regions. It is in these regions that the Black Mamba often preys on birds and other small animals. Given its rapid speed (around 10 miles per hour), the snake is able to overcome most of its prey with ease.
Unlike other snakes, the Black Mamba typically delivers multiple bites when it strikes. Its venom, which is composed primarily of neurotoxins, induces symptoms within a span of ten minutes, and is typically fatal if antivenom is not administered rapidly. Rather than causing local swelling and necrosis (like many venomous snake bites), a Black Mamba’s venom often causes severe tingling, metallic taste in the mouth, drooping eyelids, neurological disfunction, blurred vision, and paralysis of the respiratory system. Extreme drowsiness, inability to speak, nausea, vomiting, and extreme sweating are also common. Humans that are bit by a Black Mamba are completely incapacitated within forty-five minutes, and often die within seven hours if medical treatment is not administered rapidly.
#4: Eastern Brown
The “Eastern Brown Snake” is an extremely deadly snake that resides in Eastern and Central Australia, as well as the southern sector of New Guinea. The Eastern Brown is quite slender in appearance, and reaches an average length of seven feet. As its name implies, the Eastern Brown is typically brown in color, with some snakes taking on a blackish appearance as well. Eastern Browns are found in nearly all environments, except for dense forests around Australia. They are most common around farms, as their main prey includes the populous house mouse. Eastern Browns are well known for their small fangs, dark tongues, and dark black eyes. They are also quite solitary, and tend to be most active during the daylight hours.
The Eastern Brown Snake’s venom is extremely deadly, and is responsible for more deaths (in Australia) than any other snake species. Out of nineteen reported bites between 2005 and 2015 in Australia, fifteen of the bites resulted in death due to its extreme potency (Wikipedia.org). Early symptoms of an Eastern Brown Snake bite include coagulation of the blood, a sudden drop in blood pressure, severe bleeding, and heart failure. Other symptoms include kidney failure, extreme nausea and vomiting, and migraines. Symptoms begin rapidly (within fifteen minutes of being bitten). However, depending on the amount of venom injected during the bite, some individuals have been known to develop extreme symptoms within only two minutes. Neurotoxicity is rare with the Eastern Brown Snake’s bite, as its venom typically attacks the cardiovascular system of its victim. Although antivenom has been available since 1956, the rapid onset of symptoms often negates the benefits of the antivenom, as victims often slip into cardiac arrest before appropriate care can be given.
#3: Inland Taipan
The “Taipan” is a highly venomous snake that resides in Australasia. It is a member of the elapid family (which includes cobras), and is considered to be one of the deadliest snakes in the world today. There are three known species of the Taipan including the “Coastal Taipan,” “Inland Taipan,” and the “Central Ranges Taipan.” Most of the Taipan species are found along the northeast coast of Queensland, as well as the southern sector of Papua New Guinea. It primarily feeds on rats and bandicoots, along with other small mammals.
The Taipan’s venom contains high levels of neurotoxins. One bite from a Taipan often results in paralysis of the victim’s nervous system, and clots the blood, preventing an adequate flow of blood through the blood vessels. Although an antivenom exists to the Taipan’s venomous bite, very few people survive the bite due to its severity. Without antivenom, only one individual has ever survived the snake’s bite.
#2: Blue Krait
The “Blue Krait,” or “Malayan Krait,” is a highly venomous snake of the elapid family. On average, the snake reaches lengths of approximately 3.5 feet, and maintains a color pattern of bluish-black crossbands that are separated by yellowish-white interspaces. The Blue Krait is found predominantly in southeast Asia, including Indochina and Indonesia. It primarily feeds on mice, other snakes (including other Blue Kraits), reptiles, and small rodents. Current studies have shown that the Blue Krait prefers fields, holes, and even homes for its habitat. The Blue Krait is also fond of water sources, and is often found near rivers, lakes, and ponds. It is also been found that Blue Kraits are primarily nocturnal in their hunting habits.
The Blue Krait’s venom is highly potent, and consists of extremely powerful neurotoxins that paralyze its victim’s muscular system. The neurotoxins are made up of presynaptic and postsynaptic toxins that are known to directly attack an individual’s ability to speak or think clearly. The Blue Krait’s venom also attacks an individual’s respiratory system, causing suffocation from an inability to breathe within four hours. Other symptoms of a krait’s bite include paralysis, severe abdominal pain/cramps, tightened facial muscles, as well as blindness. Unlike other snakes, such as the Chain Viper, which produce anywhere from 40-70 mgs of venom in their bite, the Blue Krait produces only 10 mgs. Even this small amount, however, is extremely potent, and provides the same effects of other venomous snakes listed on this article with only a fourth of their overall levels. Although people often experience no pain from a krait bite (providing them with false reassurance), death is common within four hours if left untreated. Untreated mortality rates for Blue Krait bites are an astounding seventy to eighty percent.
#1: Belcher's Sea Snake
The “Belcher’s Sea Snake,” or the “Faint-Banded Sea Snake,” is an extremely venomous snake of the elapid family. Despite its shy and timid temperament, the Belcher’s Sea Snake is considered the most poisonous snake in the world. The snake is relatively small in size (approximately 3.5 feet in length), with a slender body, and yellow base with green crossbands. It is commonly found in the Indian Ocean, as well as the Philippines, Gulf of Thailand, the Solomon Islands, and the northwest coasts of Australia. It is typically found along tropical reefs, and can hold its breath for nearly eight hours before resurfacing for air. Current observations indicate that the Belcher Sea Snake typically eats small fish and eel.
The Belcher Sea Snake is so poisonous that a single bite can kill an individual in less than thirty minutes. Studies have also shown its venom to be 100 times the strength of the inland Taipan snake. Luckily, the snake’s mild manner and temperament often prevent it from attacking humans, however. Moreover, scientific studies have shown that the snake can control its venom secretion, and only releases venom in a quarter of its bites.
The snake’s venom contains high levels of neurotoxins and myotoxins. One drop of its venom is strong enough to kill 1,800 people. General symptoms of their bite are extreme nausea and vomiting, migraine headache, diarrhea, extreme abdominal pain, dizziness, and convulsions. Other symptoms include paralysis, muscle impairment, extreme bleeding, hysteria, respiratory failure, and renal failure. Although antivenoms exist to counteract the snake’s deadly bite, immediate treatment is crucial for preventing death.
Wikipedia contributors, "Black mamba," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Black_mamba&oldid=895054052 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, "Bungarus candidus," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bungarus_candidus&oldid=865704397 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, "Crotalus scutulatus," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Crotalus_scutulatus&oldid=879174642 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, "Common death adder," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Common_death_adder&oldid=894254837 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, "Eastern brown snake," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Eastern_brown_snake&oldid=895350544 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, "Hydrophis belcheri," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hydrophis_belcheri&oldid=890407501 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, "Inland taipan," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Inland_taipan&oldid=894759115 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, "Philippine cobra," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Philippine_cobra&oldid=885665385 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, "Russell's viper," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Russell%27s_viper&oldid=894545331 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, "Tiger snake," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tiger_snake&oldid=890412129 (accessed May 3, 2019).
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Larry Slawson