There are more than 600 species of poisonous snakes in the world , but here we offer you the ranking of the ten most lethal.
Snakes are carnivorous reptiles and therefore need to hunt to feed themselves. We classify them according to the strategy they use to do so, and when they immobilize and kill their prey with poison we consider them poisonous snakes.
- You can also read: The 15 most dangerous animals in the world.
Venomous snakes: characteristics
Venomous snakes differ from other snakes because to immobilize and kill their prey they use poison that they transmit with saliva injected through the fangs : that is, by bite.
It is a sophisticated system in which a group of toxins of greater or lesser intensity are channeled, contained in the saliva, through hollow fangs towards an external organism. The bite is usually very fast, and in addition to a hunting technique for feeding, it is an effective defensive system .
The venomous apparatus of snakes is made up of glands that contain modified saliva, that is, mixed with toxins, and a duct that joins them with the fangs. The muscles and the jaw act so that the snake can bite: it is estimated that it can inoculate up to 600 milligrams in one bite.
The speed and effectiveness of the venom depend on the type of snake, the amount of venom injected, and the body mass of the recipient. The poison spreads through the blood and paralyzes first the muscles and then the organs , leading to death.
Within the venomous snakes we can differentiate two lesser known groups: the less venomous snakes (colubridae) and the marine ones (hydrophiidae). Among the most feared are the elapidae (cobras, mambas and coral snakes) , the viperidae (snakes), and the crotalidae (rattlesnakes).
The 13 most poisonous snakes (with their names)
Every year more than 30,000 people die in the world from the bite of poisonous snakes. These are some of the deadliest species of these reptiles.
1. The Taipan
snake Taipan snakes are a dangerous species of reptiles that live in Australia, and whose bite ends the life of a man in a maximum of 45 minutes. That is why it is consideredthe deadliest of terrestrial snakes .
There are several different types of taipan snakes, but the most toxic is the inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus). It has a yellowish brown color from lighter tones to olive green, with grayish hues on the lateral and upper scales. It has a small dark colored head with a rounded snout .
Due to the toxicity of its venom, it can kill more than 100 people with a single bite, since its venom is 50 times more lethal than that of a cobra . After its bite, the usual symptoms are suffered (vomiting, headache, fever, diarrhoea, dizziness) until reaching a neurotoxic picture and renal failure that leads to death in 80% of cases.
It lives in arid areas of central Australia and usually feeds on rodents and birds.
2. The black mamba The deadliest
snake on the African continent, the black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis), can reach more than 4 meters and has the quality of being one of the fastest snakes in the world : it reaches 20 kilometers per time. It can be found in Tanzania, Congo, Zambia, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Mozambique or Kenya.
Although it is pale gray or yellowish, the inside of the mouth is black, which is why it is called black mamba. Like all snakes, it prefers to hide from danger and go unnoticed, although unlike other species, when it feels threatened it is much more aggressive and impulsive.
Another of its characteristics is that when it feels threatened it raises its head to a considerable height . Although its venom is not the most toxic, its aggressiveness, speed and agility make it one of the most dangerous.
3. Blecher’s sea snake
Until recently there were two or three marine species that were considered the most toxic in the world, although now this merit belongs to the inland Taipan. Among the most poisonous sea snakes, the Blecher (Hydrophis belcheri) reigns.
It lives in the Indian Ocean and the seas of Australia and Thailand, and is recognizable by the symmetrical combination of grayish or yellowish stripes with black.. It can measure more than 2 meters, and although the toxicity of its venom is very high, it is not considered very dangerous, since it hardly comes into contact with human beings.
4. King Cobra
The King Cobra is the largest of the poisonous snakes, being able to exceed five meters. It lives in areas of Southeast Asia such as Thailand, the Philippines or India, and has the peculiarity that it usually feeds on other snakes . Hence its scientific name, Ophionphagus hannah, which means snake-eater.
In addition to being very long, having so many vertebrae is a very agile reptile.It usually raises its torso when it is threatened, unfolding the hood on its head that gives it this typical aspect of cobras. It has a brownish, greenish or yellowish color.
The Royal Cobra, one of the most poisonous snakes on the planet. | Image from: Wikimedia Commons.
It injects the poison through its fangs, up to 2.5 centimeters in length, causing a neurotoxic collapse that attacks the central nervous system. The victim experiences dizziness, vomiting, and blurred vision, eventually dying of respiratory failure. Its venom is not the most toxic, but it is capable of injecting a lot in a single bite .
5. Russell’s viper
The Daboia russelii, better known as Russell’s viper, is a poisonous snake that inhabits South Asia in the India area. Its danger, in addition to a very powerful poison, lies in the fact that it usually enters territories inhabited by humans in search of rodents and small reptiles.
Its name is due to Patrick Russell, a scientist who discovered numerous species of amphibians and reptiles in India, and Daboia is an Indian term that indicates something hidden and threatening. It is the viper that produces more deaths in a year .
Its appearance is easily recognizable, due to its triangular and flattened head, the large and raised snout and a robust body with spots on the back. Its venom is highly toxic.producing the death of the cellular tissue and severe internal hemorrhages with the result of death in a matter of a short time.
6. Striped Krait
Its appearance is fearsome: two meters of striped yellow and black stripes with a marked vertebral line that ends in a thin and elongated head with black eyes and two yellow arrow-shaped markings. Its bite is even more so: the rapid action of its poison leads to death by suffocation.
The Striped Krait or Bungarus fasciatus inhabits areas of India and Pakistan, and Southeast Asia, and its bite is 16 times more deadly than that of the cobra. Its venom contains toxins that prevent the action of neurotransmitters , so the organs gradually stop working.
From the same family there is the common Krait , with an equally deadly bite and the peculiarity of seeking refuge in tents, shoes and bags close to the human species. In this case it is dark blue with very thin white stripes.
Viper The Bitis gabonica is a type of viper that lives in sub-Saharan Africa whose morphology gives it a terrible appearance: it is the heaviest viper and has fangs of more than five centimeters . The flat and very wide head is followed by a thin neck and a robust and heavy body with pale and dark spots of brown and ocher tones.
A Gaboon viper, with its unique appearance. | Image from: Wikimedia Commons.
This aspect allows it to camouflage itself very well among the fallen leaves in an arid environment, and assault its victims by surprise. That and the speed of the attack make it a relentless predator , hence its danger.
It feeds on rodents and small mammals, although when it feels threatened it can have aggressive reactions against humans. Its bite inoculates a large quantity of venom that, due to its high toxicity, induces multi-organ failure and death in the victim.
crotalo The horned crotalo or horned rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes) is one of the most poisonousof rattlesnakes. It inhabits the deserts from Baja California, to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico, whose speed, starting from hiding places such as bushes and sandy basins, offers it an advantage as a relentless predator.
The scaly projection above the ocular protuberances have earned it the name of horned crotalus. It is not very big and has rather light ocher tones. What makes it special is the way it moves, its perfected undulating locomotion that allows it to move quickly on a surface with no grip like sand.
Its venom contains powerful aggressive toxins for the human body that can lead to paralysis of the organs and death by suffocation.
9. Royal Nauyaca or Velvet
It is the deadliest crotalo in the American continent , found in countries such as Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, although there is more evidence of its presence in southern Mexico.
The Nauyaca real or Velvet Snake (Bothrops Asper) usually lives in humid forests and is a nocturnal species. It is characterized because the females are twice as large as the males, with a greenish or brown appearance with a yellowish tail.
It also stands out for having a thermoreceptor cavity between the eye and the nose to detect prey that emit infrared radiation, which gives it a competitive advantage as a predator. Although it feeds on rats and small reptiles, it tends to prowl near human settlements., and also has an irritable and aggressive character.
10. Philippine Cobra
It is the most poisonous of the small snakes, because despite its small size its bite is dangerous. So much so that the neurotoxic qualities of its saliva can lead to the death of a human being in less than an hour : that is why it is considered the most poisonous of the Naja species among cobras.
The Naja philippinensis is one of the species known as “spitting cobras” because it has the ability to launch poison at a distance of up to 3 meters. This is a strategy to render the prey blind and defenseless by facilitating the attack with the fangs.
Its name indicates that its presence is limited to the Philippines. It has an aspect common to cobras, with the deployment of the hood when they feel threatened and great body agility. It is usually brown without shades , and is widely used by snake charmers for its great visual acuity.
3 poisonous snakes in Spain
Of the 13 species of snakes that inhabit Spain, five are considered poisonous: three vipers and two snakes. Each year about 130 bites are recorded , although they are not fatal. These are the 3 most dangerous poisonous snakes in Spain.
11. Viper asp
The Vipera aspis usually measures about 60 centimeters and inhabits harsh territories with hot climates in mountainous limestone regions of Italy, France and northern Spain. Although its bite is not fatal, it is very painful and can have fatal consequences if not treated medically: it is more dangerous than the common European viper.
The Aspid viper, one of the poisonous snakes in Spain. | Image from: Wikimedia Commons.
This reptile acquires dark tones, with variants of green and brown, but it is more recognizable by the small and triangular head typical of vipers . They usually feed on reptiles, birds and rodents.
12. Snout Viper
Very similar to the aspid viper, the snout viper (Vipera latastei) is recognized by having a retractable snout and a light gray color with black zigzag stripes. It is more widespread than the asp viper, as it is found throughout the peninsula, in rocky and rough areas, preferring the night in summer, and the day the rest of the year.
Its sting is very similar to that of the aspid viper, although some experts agree that it is even more dangerous . But in general, with medical attention, the bite does not become fatal.
snake The Montepeller or bastard snake (Malpolon Monspessulanus) is a colubridae that is not dangerous to man, although its bite is very painful and requires treatment.In addition, it is very agile and can be very aggressive . It usually inhabits the entire peninsula, and reaches up to 2 meters in length.
It is recognized by its large eyes and a composition of the ocular scales that gives the sensation of a penetrating gaze. When it feels threatened, it raises its body like a cobra and swings its body , hissing to intimidate its rival .
- To know more: The 8 most dangerous animals in Spain.