Q:

What is the most dangerous snake in the world?

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Quick Answer

Herpetologists believe that either the black mamba or the coastal taipan is the most dangerous snake in the world. The black mamba is the second longest venomous snake on earth and is very fast and unpredictable. The coastal taipan is found in Australia and is one of the country's deadliest snakes. It is very much like the black mamba but smaller.

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Full Answer

Black mamba venom can kill a human within 20 minutes and has been known to kill elephants. It also has a highly evolved method for delivering its venom, which is a dendrotoxin. This is a type of neurotoxin that interferes with muscle contractions, including heart muscle contractions. The average black mamba grows to a little over 8 feet long, but longer snakes have been found. It gets its name not from the color of its hide, but from the black color of the inside of its mouth.

The coastal taipan has enormous fangs and, like the mamba, can strike repeatedly. Its venom is a taicatoxin. This is another type of neurotoxin that prevents the blood from clotting and attacks the nervous system. Being envenomated by either snake almost always results in death, unless the wound is treated right away. Fortunately, antivenin is available for both snakes.

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