Snakes. By far, the most feared and demonized creatures. For millions of years, snakes have crawled, hissing here and there, causing terror among those who wrongly believe that all snakes are poisonous. For the peace and safety of all, you would be surprised to find out that the well known vipers don’t even compare with some of the strongest snakes, in terms of poison, in the world. We are talking about reptiles so dangerous that for their venom, scientists haven’t discovered antidotes yet.
Snakes have been always associated with some form of real or supernatural evil, probably due to their connection with the Biblical story and their creepy looks, but the truth is snakes are virtually everywhere on the planet, except for Antarctica. However, scientific reports on the epidemiology of snakebites and envenomings leading to human death work with average numbers, placing the highest occurrence of fatalities in South and South East Asia, Australia, sub-Saharan Africa and India, with the latter reporting the highest number of deaths due to venomous snake bits in the world,
So, let’s have a look at some of the most poisonous snakes in the world out there and see exactly how dangerous they are.
Photo via Project Noah
1. Malaysian Krait
It is a very pleasant looking snake (it this can ever be said about snakes in general), colored alternately in yellow and black. But do not be fooled, as this appearance hides a killer which causes more casualties than all tigers, leopards and elephants in Asia, leaving far behind most famous snakes like cobras and pythons. Maybe only Chuck Norris could survive this killer”s bite, but hey, since we”re talking Chuck Norris, we”re more concerned for the snake in this case.
But joking aside, the Krait is definitely the most aggressive venomous snake in the world. Unlike other snakes which bite once and then disappear, the little Krait bites several times, just to be sure. The bite is painless, people often not observing it. Most victims are from rural areas, because Krait seek shelter provided by human settlements near the jungle. Because of this, many deaths fail to be properly reported to the authorities, a situation that eventually leads to an increase in the death rate.
It is armed with a neurotoxic venom whose chemical composition is similar to that of the cobra, only more powerful. Paralysis, followed by death, comes at a time ranging from a few minutes to 2-3 hours, depending on the amount of venom injected.
So far, there is no antidote to defeat Krait venom. Even with modern treatment, about 50 % of the bites prove fatal. For a more detailed presentation of the Blue Krait, this article on Thailanda Snakes is a good resource for information, to either satisfy one”s scientific curiosity, or to warn travelers of the dangers of free travel to exotic countries.
Photo via Snake Catchers
2. Death adder (Acanthopis antarcticus)
Despite its scientific name, the death adder has no connection with Antarctica. Instead, its reputation rises fully to its common name: the snake of the Grim Reaper.
It is a short, thick snake, stuffed like a poisonous sausage. It grows to 1.7 m long, the scales have a dark brownish gray model and its body sides are bounded by a pal-colored strip. The head is also thick and short, triangular. It is even wider than the neck and its tail is surprisingly thin and sharp.
Death adder lives in arid areas of Australia, where it lurks small vertebrates, frogs and lizards. Obviously, once bitten, the victim takes 2-3 steps, then instantly crashes do to the poisonous cocktail injected into its body. Acanthopis antarcticus is a cunning predator who hides among leaves, waiting for prey to approach. Usually, it hunts at night. After the breeding season, the future mother withdraws into a hole, where she has up to 20 “cute little snakes”, already equipped with venom.
A dose of 10 mg of venom is enough to kill a man and the reptile usually injects a deadly saliva with 180 mg of venom in a single bite. Respiratory paralysis occurs in less than 6 hours after the bite. You can read here a very extended study on this killer and learn about its deadly effects and the means modern medicine found to save people”s lives with anti-venom and treatments.
Photo via Pawnation
3. Common Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius)
The coral snake is one of the most dangerous animal that lives on the North American continent and one of the most poisonous snakes in the world.
For many herpetologists, coral snake is the species with the most beautiful colors of all the snakes of the world. Its scales are painted alternately in red, yellow and black, like a song of Native American children “Red, yellow, black is death, my friend”
Coral snake reaches a length of about 1.5 m and lives in the shadow of leaves in moist forests. It’s a reptile with predominant terrestrial lifestyle, leading a nocturnal existence, but is often active at dawn and evening. Of the 5-7 eggs laid by the female, over 60 days with coloring chicks appear as strident as that of adults. It’s venom is extremely powerful, but luckily for people, these snakes rarely inject quantities to cause the death of a man. The bite is painless and produces nausea, dizziness, vomiting, salivation and heavy breathing and sometimes paralysis. According to the American National Institutes of Health, there are an average of 15–25 coral snake bites in the United States each year. This article details the bite symptoms together with some first aid urgent actions to be taken.
Photo via World Top 10
4. Beaked sea snake (Enhydrina schistosa)
Here we are dealing with a snake that for millennia has chosen to live in the waters of the seas, feeding predominantly on fish. Unlike the mythical relatives that reach 20 to 30 feet long, Getting Started with the Right Foundation So, how do you get started in your journey to creating the right environment so that you are ready to both experiment with big and be prepared to expand your use of big when you are ready? Will you have to invest in new technologies for your center? Can you leverage cloud computing services? The answer to these questions is yes. the beaked sea snake measure only 1.2 m, but it kills thousands of people annually. According to Oceana Organization, “this snake’s bite contains enough venom to kill 50 people—about twice as many as the most venomous terrestrial snakes, such as the king cobra or death adder.”
Its appearance is very pleasant in total antithesis to its dark reputation: various shades of yellow, green and gray striped with black. Unlike terrestrial snakes, its eyes are placed in the head, pointing straight ahead, not on the side.
Here”s an extremely aggressive reptile, commonly found in the Indo-Pacific tropical area, whose evolution in an environment with sea, sun and heat hasn’t made it weak. Researchers tell us that it’s among the most aggressive snakes in the world. It has a pair of fangs as long as the tiger snake, able to drill without any problems. Moreover, due to the fact that it lives in seas, this snake is responsible for many tragic cases of fatal attacks provoked on divers or people who were simply swimming. 90% of people bitten do not live to see the next day. For more information about this deadly snake, you can consult O’Shea, M. (2008) Venomous Snakes of the World (New Holland Publishers, London) or check the ARKive Organization for a detailed description of this underwater killer.
Photo via Two Dutchies
5. Tiger snake (Notechis scutatus)
South Australian tiger snake can reach 2 meters in length, a considerable size for a poisonous snake. It has a nice look, but a terrible reputation. However, it is a relatively a shy snake.
Its sad history of cohabitation with humans is caused solely by the latter. In all cases of tiger snake attack the people camped in tents in unfit areas, kids challenged it with sticks and stones, and courageous people tried to catch it barehanded. Obviously, it had to defend himself.
The most poisonous snake in Australia is a warrior who refused to surrender. Speaking of venom, that of the tiger snake is a powerful neurotoxin that attacks the nervous system in seconds. According to AustralianFauna, death resulting to a bite from this snake is a rare phenomenon, as the anti-venom treatment is available. However, if you”re globetrotting and venturing in long trips in the heart of Australia, make sure you avoid this snake, as it moved even to suburban areas of the country.
Photo via Wildlife
6. Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus)
Not to be confounded with James Clavel”s famous novel Tai-Pan, this big shot Australian snake has a pleasant color in shades of light green to dark brown, while some specimens are completely black. It”s a big snake, males reaching a length of up to 3 meters. It acts during the day, in sunlight, lacking many natural enemies. In the wild, they prefer to hunt mammals, marsupials, rats or rabbits. Researchers believe that this is the main reason why the common Taipan venom developed so strongly, mammals defending more violently than birds or reptiles.
Female taipan lays up to 20 eggs. This Coastal Taipan”s venom is extremely powerful, with neurotoxic effects so powerful that they paralyzes the entire nervous system of a man bitten. Symptoms before death include vomiting, flaccid paralysis and eventually respiratory paralysis. According to according to the Australian Venom and Toxin Database, this is the world”s third-most venomous snake. Also, scientists agree that the average death time after a bite is around 90 minutes, while untreated bites have a mortality rate of 100% as it always delivers a fatal dose of venom. If you venture to Australia, New Guinea or Papua New Guinea where this snake can also be found in high density, this IMMEDIATE FIRST AID for bites by Australian Taipan guide should find its room into your luggage.
Photo via Social Voting
7. Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus)
It hunts exclusively for mammals, such as rodents or small Australian marsupials. Also known as the Fierce Snake, it is shyer than its coastal relative, more reclusive and less offensive, so its “fierce” attribute comes from the power of its venom and not its charming personality. This snake kills with one bite, then retreats waiting for the prey to die. It takes a few seconds and the serpent “enjoys” its victim. A single bite from the Inland Taipan contains enough venom to kill 100 people or 250,000 mice. And the snake is able to bite dozens of times during a single day.
The snake has a natural enemy, in the King Brown Snake, which is immune to most Australian poisonous snakes and which feeds on baby Inland Taipans. Also, the giant Perentie can tackle down the Inland Taipan and win a fair fight. For your amusement and awe, you can watch here a video showing late Steve Irwin playing with the Fierce Snake, while you should keep in mind that Coastal Taipan anti-venom works also in the case of the Inland Taipan bite.
Photo via India Nature Watch
8. Saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus)
This snake is commonly found in Central and Middle East Asia and also the Indian subcontinent, as well as African areas. It is usually active during the day, but in desert areas it goes hunting only at night. It is fearless and extremely aggressive, attacking at the slightest provocation if anything or anyone disturbs it in its natural habitat (sandy soils and rocky areas). Science describes it as being special, as it has a characteristic pose, a double coil with a figure of eight, with the head poised in the center, permits it to lash out like a released spring.
In February, the saw-scaled viper mates, the results appear in the form of 12 to 15 “babies” as bad as their parents. Once out hunting, it does not spare anything, from rats, centipedes, lizards and even scorpions enter the list of dishes. Being a relatively small snake, it often falls victim to larger snakes such as Krait and sand boa.
Its venom is a true liquid acid, making it one of the most posonous snakes in the world. One bite causes destruction of red blood cells, liquefying the arterial walls, leading to sudden drop in blood pressure. Death occurs in conjunction with internal bleeding after heart attack. Also, researchers found that tt may inject as much as 12 mg of venom per bite, whereas the lethal dose for an adult is estimated to be only 5 mg and antivenin therapy and intravenous hydration within hours of the bite are vital for survival. Luckily, there are least eight different types of anti-venom to save us from this killer”s bite, according to the Munich AntiVenom INdex (MAVIN).
Photo via Wild Life
9. Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis)
Here is one of Australia”s most aggressive snakes. It can reach a length of 2 meters and it has no fear, hunting in broad daylight or in the deepest shades. Most brown snakes are found in the province of Victoria, holding the record of human victims. It shows a special preference for lizards. Victims die in 1-2 seconds after being bitten. Brown snake is extremely mobile.
According to regretted reptile expert, Steve Irwin, we are dealing with a snake responsible for most human deaths across Australia. A brown snake has enough venom to kill about 200 people and according to specialized reports, the rate of envenoming in this snake is 20-40%. Here is a detailed first aid guide and more extensive information on exactly how dangerous this snake really is.
Photo via IRD
10. Boomslang Snake (Dispholidus typus)
Boomslang snakes are probably the most beautiful in our list (at least the male Bloomslang is) and have incredible dexterity in trees and shrubs, their favorite hunting places. They have a prehensile tail which helps them “grab” a branch and hang until identifying the unfortunate prey.
It lives in sub-Saharan African forests, above the canopy of trees, protected from enemies. In spring, Mr. and Mrs. Boomslang mate, resulting in 10-14 eggs deposited in a hollow tree. Over 2-3 months, small Boomslangs hatch ready for the world.
Boomslang is a shy snake, but will punish any attempt to grab it or walk over it. Venom is highly toxic, only 0.0002 mg dose is sufficient for killing birds and rodents. If a person is bitten by a Boomslang, there are chances to escape because the snake fangs, situated in the palate do not get to unload a lethal dose. However, the venom is allergic for most people, and it is indeed lethal if the snake bite isn”t treated accordingly, while it doesn’t take a big dose to leave this world. Its venom acts slowly, this is why many victims tend to ignore the bite, as many hours may pass between the bite and the first manifestations of illness.
To end this horrific journey into the world of killer snakes in a light and fun manner, let”s see some cultural references to the Boomslang snake brought to you by AfricanReptiles-Venom
- Shredded skin of a boomslang is one of the ingredients to make the Polyjuice Potion in J.K. Rowling”s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
- The poison of the Boomslang snake also features in the Agatha Christie thriller, Death in the Clouds (pub.1935), featuring her famous detective, Hercule Poirot.
- In the Stephen King short story Autopsy Room 4 from Everything”s Eventual the main character is paralyzed as the result of a boomslang bite.
What other poisonous snakes in the world do you know or are afraid of? Have you ever seen a deadly snake with your own eyes?