The World’s 30 Deadliest Snakes
Humans have long had a fear of snakes. Perhaps there is a simple reason why - many snakes around the world are extremely deadly! Here is a list of 30 of the world’s deadliest snakes, hailing from Africa, Australia, Asia and the Americas.
While the venom of the king cobra is not the most potent among venomous snakes, this snake has an incredible amount of neurotoxin. Just one bite has enough neurotoxin to kill 20 people. The good news? King cobras tend to avoid humans. The bad news? King cobras are very aggressive if they feel cornered.
Although native to India, the king cobra is found throughout Southeast Asia. The longest venomous snake in the world, the king cobra can grow to 16 to 18 feet long and weighs 20 to 28 pounds. King cobras also eat other snakes.
Just hearing the word "rattlesnake" fills most people with dread. There is a good reason why: They are venomous snakes and deadly when they bite a human. However, there is good news. If a rattlesnake bite is quickly treated, it is rarely fatal to humans.
There are 32 different types of rattlesnake species in North and South America, but the greatest amount of them are concentrated in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. The longest rattlesnake species in the U.S. is the western diamondback. The largest diamondback snake ever found measured 8.5 feet long.
The black mamba is native to southern and eastern Africa. They are long snakes that can reach up to 14 feet long. They are the longest venomous snake in Africa and one of the fastest snakes in the world. They can slither at speeds reaching 12.5 miles an hour.
The bite of the black mamba was always fatal prior to the development of an anti-venom. It would kill a person within 20 minutes of a bite. Although an anti-venom now exists, it is not always available in the rural regions of this snake’s range. Unfortunately, deaths from black mambas are still frequent.
Despite its name, the Egyptian Cobra can be found throughout the majority of North Africa, north of the Sahara and even in parts of East and West Africa. It likes both dry and humid habitats. Its average length is from 3.3 to 6.6 feet, but it can reach up to 9.8 feet in length.
This is a snake that is usually docile, but it will strike if it is threatened. It does not spit venom as other African cobra species do. Its venom has both neurotoxins and cytotoxins. Just one bite from it can deliver 175 to 300 milligrams of venom.
Eastern Brown Snake
The eastern brown snake is one of Australia’s many snakes. It is found in a variety of habitats, including rainforests, mountain regions, woodlands and savannah grasslands. They are often found in agricultural areas. This is not a snake that shies away from human-inhabited areas. It is one of the most frequently encountered venomous snakes in Australia.
The fangs of the eastern brown snake are small, which makes the amount of venom it delivers small. However, its venom is potent. It packs various toxins, including neurotoxins. This snake is responsible for around half of all fatalities in Australia caused by snakes
Ocellated Carpet Viper
The ocellated carpet viper, also known as the West African carpet viper, is native to West Africa and can be found throughout the region. This snake is only two feet long, but causes more human deaths than all other African species. Thankfully, an antivenom for the snake exists.
There is more good news about this deadly snake. Its venom acts slowly and is mostly hemotoxic, which means it contains toxins that can disrupt blood clotting. Although a victim will die from a bite by this snake, it can take days. While anti-venoms for other carpet viper species are not as effective, the anti-venom for the ocellated carpet viper is much more effective.
Despite its name, the Indian cobra is not only found in India, but in the Middle East, China and Indonesia. It grows to about 3.3 feet in length. This is a snake that is not shy. It will live in areas where there are humans, but the good news is that it usually won’t attack humans unless it is threatened.
During mating season, the Indian cobra is much more likely to attack a human. If one is encountered, the best thing to do is to stay calm because rapid movements cause it to react aggressively. The Indian cobra kills about 10,000 people every year in India.
Russell’s viper is a very venomous snake native to Asia. It causes thousands of deaths every year, namely because it is a snake that is not afraid to inhabit areas where there are farmlands. When a person is bitten by this snake, they experience a number of symptoms, including pain, vomiting and kidney failure.
Russell’s viper grows to about 5 feet long and is an aggressive snake. There are two subspecies of this deadly snake found in India, Southeast Asia, China and Taiwan. It is named for Patrick Russell, a Scottish herpetologist who described it and other Indian snakes.
Indian Saw-Scaled Viper
Although the Indian saw-scaled viper is a small snake (as an adult it is 12 to 20 inches long) it’s one of the four most common venomous snakes in India. This snake is also found in Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.
The Indian saw-scaled viper is a rather aggressive snake, and when it is provoked it will strike quickly. It is a snake that likes a wide range of habitats, including forests, deserts, rainforests, grasslands and dry open lands. It also likes to hide in caves, cracks, piles and rocks.
The tiger snake is one of Australia’s venomous snakes. Although it’s an aggressive snake with toxic venom, most Australians will not encounter it, as it is shy. It prefers to flee rather than deal with conflict. If a tiger snake feels threatened it will strike, and its venom has a blood-clotting agent and a nerve paralyzer.
Tiger snakes like a wide variety of habitats which range from grasslands, wet marshes, woodlands and dry rocky areas. In Tasmania, they are found in most habitats. They typically do not like to stay in the same place for over 15 days, and males particularly like to wander.
Faint-Banded Sea Snake
The faint-banded sea snake is also known as Belcher’s sea snake, after Sir Edward Belcher who discovered the snake. It is native to the Indian Ocean region, which includes the Philippines, New Guinea, Thailand, Australia and the Solomon Islands. It is a venomous species of the elapid sea snake.
Since the faint-banded sea snake is timid, it is not aggressive. It will only strike when threatened and lives in remote areas. It likes to swim around or near tropical reefs in the Indian Ocean. Although it does not pose much of a threat to humans due to its timidity and remoteness, its venom can kill someone in less than a half-hour.
The Blue Krait is also known as the Malayan krait. A member of the elapid family of snakes, it is native to Southeast Asia and can be as long as 3.5 feet. It likes to hang out in rocky places, waterways and forests. It will live in lowlands and elevations as high as 3,900 feet.
It is one of the most venomous Asian snakes, but is nocturnal so it prefers to be active during the night. Although it can be found in villages and cities, it likes to stay hidden. It is not an aggressive or defensive snake. It will generally only bite if it is provoked.
As its name implies, the Philippine Cobra is native to the Philippines. It is also known as the Northern Philippines cobra and is one of three species of spitting cobras. It is able to spit venom as far as far as 9.8 feet with amazing accuracy.
It is a snake that likes to live near water, including lakes, rivers and ponds. It is such a fierce snake that it will even prey on the king cobra. Its venom is so toxic that one bite from it can kill someone within 30 minutes, and their venom can cripple the respiratory system.
African Puff Adder
The African Puff Adder is native to Africa and is spread throughout the continent. It is a snake that likes to stay in hiding, and will not give itself away when approached by hissing or striking. It belongs to the viper family. They like to live in savannahs and grasslands.
One of the most widespread snakes in Africa, it is relatively small as it grows to about 3.3 feet. It is a stocky snake that can weigh up to 11 pounds. The reason it is called a puff adder is because it will inflate when it is threatened and make a loud puffing sound. A person bitten by this snake has a good chance of living if the bite is treated quickly.
The terciopelo (velvet in Spanish) viper is native to Central and South America. It is a pit viper in the family Crotalidae that can reach 8 feet. Its head can be up to 4 inches wide. This snake is also called barba amarilla (yellow beard in Spanish).
The terciopelo viper is responsible for a good portion of the snake bites in Central America. It carries a venom that attacks the blood, called a hemotoxin, leading surrounding tissues to die. If not treated with an anti-venom, its bite is very dangerous. The terciopelo likes to dine on rainforest rats, which are a menace if there are too many of them.
Common Death Adder
The common death adder is another venomous Australian snake, and this snake has one of the fastest strikes of all Australia’s venomous snakes. Its venom is a neurotoxin that causes paralysis. The good news is that there is an anti-venom and with quick treatment, a person who gets bit by this snake is likely to survive.
This is a snake that is not very long, growing up to a maximum length of only about 2.25 to 3.25 feet, with a stout body. However, the average length of the common death adder is 1.3 feet. The snake is in parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.
Eastern Green Mamba
Native to southern Africa, the eastern green mamba can be found in Tanzania, eastern Zimbabwe and South Africa. An adult snake can reach up to 8½ feet, but the average length is 6 to 7 feet. This is a snake whose vivid green coloring gives an indication as to its preferred habitat. It likes to live in woodlands and coastal bushlands.
The eastern green mamba’s venomous is dangerous, and if a person is bitten by it they will suffer from dizziness, nausea and death if untreated with anti-venom. This is a snake that is capable of biting more than once and each time it does, it injects large amounts of venom.
Jameson’s Green Mamba
Named by a Scottish doctor and zoologist in honor of Robert Jameson, Jameson’s green mamba is native to Central and West Africa, but it can be found in parts of East Africa. It is a snake that likes to live in a variety of habitats, including rainforests, savannahs and woodlands. It grows to an average length of 4.9 to 7.2 feet.
The venom of Jameson’s green mamba is very toxic. If a bite from this snake is left untreated, a person can die anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes. It is a snake that can become very aggressive if it feels threatened.
The range of the copperhead snake extends from Massachusetts to Texas. It is a large snake for North America, reaching a length of 24 to 40 inches. It is a pit viper, which means that it possesses facial pits that can sense heat, and it uses those pits to detect both prey and predators.
While the venom of the copperhead snake can be dangerous and even fatal to humans, it rarely injects enough during the first bite to kill a person. The reason is that the snake tends to give a person a warning bite which contains only small amounts of venom.
Olive Brown Sea Snake
The olive brown sea snake can grow to over 6 feet long and generally lives on coral reefs. Its range includes the waters around Australia, Indonesia and New Guinea. It can remain hidden during daylight due to light-sensing organs in its tail. It is a snake that prefers to be active at night and will only come out during the day to take a breath.
One of the most common sea snakes to be found on Australia’s coral reefs, its venom is highly toxic. However, the olive-brown sea snake is not an aggressive snake, although it is curious and has been known to approach a scuba diver. It will rarely bite someone, which is good considering its bite is fatal.
Common Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait
The common yellow-lipped sea krait is native to Indonesia’s Bay of Bengal and islands of the South Pacific. It can grow from 3 to 5 feet long and is basically a cobra snake that learned to live in the ocean, as well as go to land to both bask and reproduce.
Although the common yellow-lipped sea krait has dangerous venom, it is a docile snake. Encounters between this snake and humans are frequent but rarely result in snake bites. They will only bite if they are handled. The most common snake bites are to fishermen who try to untangle them from their nets.
The boomslang is not a terribly large snake, it typically grows from 3 to 5 feet long. It’s commonly found over most of sub-Saharan Africa and in a range of habitats, including dry savannahs, coastal thickets and semi-desert regions. Although it is a tree snake, It tends to prefer open areas to forests.
Although the boomslang is highly venomous, it is unlikely to bite a human for several reasons. It is not an aggressive snake and has rear-fangs, which means their fangs are farther back in their mouths. So, to bite someone and inject them with venom they have to open their mouths very wide.
The Papuan taipain is a subspecies of the coastal taipan found in Papua New Guinea. It ranges in length from 5.9 to 6.5 feet. There have been a few found to be 11 feet long, but they are rarely over 8.5 feet. It is a snake that can adapt well to human activity and is often found in residential areas.
The Papuan taipan is considered to be the most dangerous of the venomous snakes in Papua New Guinea. It has both a high venom yield and long fangs. It is responsible for many snake bites. Its venom contains both a neurotoxin and causes blood clotting.
The jararaca, also known as a Brazilian pit viper and the Bothropoides jararaca, is found in southern Brazil, northern Argentina and northeastern Paraguay. It likes a variety of habitats, including savannahs, semitropical forests and cultivated fields. The name jararaca comes from the Tupi words yarará and ca, which mean "large snake."
The jararaca has a very toxic venom that causes its victims to lose consciousness due to a drop in blood pressure. The venom can also cause hemorrhaging, which can be fatal. Its venom has some beneficial benefits to humans as it has been used to develop drugs to treat high blood pressure.
African Forest Cobra
The African forest cobra is found in numerous African nations, including Uganda, South Africa, Angola and Mozambique. It is an adaptable snake that can adjust to a variety of surroundings and has been found in savannahs, thickets, rainforests, wetlands, grasslands and coastal areas. It can even live at heights of over 9,000 feet.
With an average length of 6 to 8 feet, they can be intimidating. Their venom is highly toxic and without treatment, death is a distinct possibility. The good news is that it is a snake which tends to hide after encountering humans, but if it feels threatened it will strike.
Native to Australia, the Inland Taipan is one of the most venomous snakes in the world. Just one bite from this snake carries enough venom to kill 100 adult men or 250,000 mice. It is 6 to 8 feet in length, and its back is either brown or light green, with a belly that ranges from light yellow to cream.
Discovered at the end of the 19th century, it took 90 years after its discovery for scientists to examine and describe this snake. The Inland Taipan is diurnal, meaning it’s active in the morning. However, in extremely hot weather it will become nocturnal, or active at night.
The many-banded krait hails from Hong Kong and reaches an average of 4.9 feet. It can be found all over Hong Kong. It likes to be active at night, so encounters with people are less likely. It is a shy snake that prefers to stay hidden.
Although the many-banded krait is known to be docile if approached and is generally slow- moving, it is not a snake that should be approached. It is considered to be the most venomous snake in Hong Kong. Its venom is highly toxic and takes over an hour to take effect once someone is bitten.
Dubois’ Sea Snake
The Dubois’ sea snake is found in Australia between the Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia and Hervey Bay in Queensland, and on the Ashmore Reef and Sahul Shelf. It is also found in Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. It is often seen in shallow water near coral reefs of 9.8 to 13 feet deep, but can live in depths of up to 262 feet.
Some consider it to have one of the most potent venoms among venomous snakes in the world. The good news is that bites by sea snakes are unusual. Like most sea snakes, the Dubois’ sea snake prefers to keep to itself.
The Mojave green is a subspecies of rattlesnake found in the Southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. It likes to live in desert regions, lower ranges of mounts and scrub brush areas. It reaches a length between 2 and 4 feet. This snake is a pit viper that possesses a pit on each side of its head which can sense heat.
It is considered to have one of the most potent venoms among the rattlesnake species. The good news is that it is not the most aggressive snake and will strike when it feels threatened. If it is left alone, it is likely to not strike. Most bites from this snake happen when it is either harassed or stepped on accidentally.
Eastern Coral Snake
Native to the southeastern U.S., the eastern coral snake is a relative of the sea snake, mamba and cobra. It prefers to live in wooded, sandy and marshy areas. It spends most of its life either burrowed underground or in leaf piles.
Although its venom is very toxic, a bite from the eastern coral snake at first does not present symptoms. There may not be pain or swelling at the bite for 12 hours. Despite its venom’s slow onset, if someone is bitten by this snake, treatment should be sought quickly as respiratory or cardiac failure can occur. It is a reclusive snake, so it typically only bites humans if it is handled or stepped on.