Most of us hate snakes. I mean, who wouldn’t? Those legless, slithering, flexible reptiles have always been associated with evil, deceit, and death among many others.
Only an ophiophilist would probably disagree that a serpent is a hideous and terrifying animal. Most of us think otherwise because we fear that they’ll bite us with their sharp, lethal fangs or squeeze the life out of us and eat us whole.
However, snakes do prefer to hunt, kill, and eat rodents, birds, frogs, and other reptiles. They commonly avoid people, and they won’t attack unless they’re surprised or threatened. Moreover, out of all the 2,900 species of this cold-blooded creature, only 375 are venomous.
Contrary to what many of us believe, most snakes are harmless, and not all bites inflicted by snakes are life-threatening. However, it is imperative that snakebites are not taken lightly, especially if you’re unsure about the type that bit you.
Of the 375 types, we narrowed it down to give you 10 of the most venomous snakes including some interesting facts about them.
Rattlesnakes belong to the family of Pit Vipers along with cottonmouths and copperheads. They have two sensitive pits under their nostrils, which can spot heat. These enables them to hunt for their warm-blooded prey even in total darkness. Rattlers can grow to a length of five feet, but an adult is about three to four feet on average. Amazingly, they are capable of attacking at up to 2/3rd of their body length.
Rattlers have triangular heads, vertical pupils, and, of course, jointed rattles on their tails. But one should not focus on the rattles when identifying the snake. Baby rattlesnakes may not have rattles yet, and adults may break or lose theirs. We should also be more cautious of juvenile rattlers. They are considered more dangerous because they are incapable of controlling the amount of venom they inject on their victims.
Rattlesnakes are native to the United States. They are found in the swamplands of the Southeast and in the meadows of the Northeast. They thrive mostly in the desert sands of the Southwest, but they also live in grasslands, scrub brush, and rocky hills. The Eastern Diamondback, which is the most venomous, can be found in North America.
Rattlers have a hemotoxic venom, which causes coagulopathy and the destruction of tissues. Ultimately, organ damage occurs. A venomous bite can leave permanent scars even if immediate and effective treatment were provided to the victim. In some cases, they lose the affected limb.
Other signs and symptoms include difficulty of breathing, paralysis, drooling, and severe hemorrhage.
The mortality rate of rattlesnake bites decreases to less than 4% when an antivenom is promptly administered.
#9. Death Adder
Death Adders are primarily found on Australia’s East Coast and in New Guinea. They too have broad, triangular heads like rattlesnakes. Adders have short, stout bodies that measure between 27 and 39 inches on average. Their color varies from light brown to orange or yellow with a banded pattern in shades of brown and gray.
Of all the snakes in Australia, Death Adders have the longest fangs. They can deliver an average of 180 mg of venom in a single bite. And apparently, they hold the record for the quickest strike, which is approximately 0.13 of a second. Can you imagine the snake going from a strike position to striking and then returning to its strike position again at such speed?
Death Adders eatmammals and birds, but they don’t actively hunt. They lie in wait for hours—even days, camouflaging themselves in foliage. As soon as an unsuspecting prey approaches, they ambush the animal.
Most serpents hide when humans approach, but this snake will probably stay where it is. Consequently, this increases our risk of getting bitten if we unknowingly step on one that’s been hiding in the bush. Moreover, Death Adders are likely to chase those who provoke them. They are excellent swimmers; they won’t hesitate to traverse through the water to catch their target.
A Death Adder’s venom is neurotoxic; it paralyzes its victim. Death may ensue within six hours secondary to respiratory failure. However, with prompt treatment and administration of an anti-venom, a bite from this snake can be successfully treated.
More than 200 types of this snake exist, and they are classified into two main groups: the Pit Vipers and Old World Vipers. But, the most venomous Vipers in the world are, perhaps, the Saw Scaled Viper and the Chain Viper. Thses snakes are typically found in the Middle East and Central Asia, mostly in India, China, and South East Asia.
Vipers have a pair of long, hollow, venomous fangs attached to their movable maxilla. They hunt and eat small animals, striking them with sharp fangs, which fold back in the mouth when not in use. Generally, these snakes are nocturnal and more active after rains. They are volatile, and they move fast.
Initially, victims feel pain at the site of the bite. It may be severe, and it may last for 2-4 weeks. Swelling of the affected extremity immediately follows, often peaking within 48-72 hours. Other signs and symptoms include bleeding, particularly from the gums; hypotension (drop in blood pressure); bradycardia (slow heart rate); and discoloration of the affected area due to the leak of red blood cells and plasma into muscle tissue.
Blistering may be observed, and it may exacerbate and develop along the affected limb. Local and superficial muscle necrosis proximal to the site of the bite is likely, although it may be severe in extreme cases. In about one-third of all cases, vomiting and facial swelling occurs.
The cause of death is usually secondary to septicemia, respiratory or cardiac failure, which may transpire 1-14 days post-bite, or later.
#7. Philippine Cobra
The Northern Philippine cobra or the Philippine Cobra is one of the three species of spitting cobras native to the Philippines. It is also considered the most dangerous Cobra on earth. They are predominantly found on the islands of Luzon, Mindoro, Catanduanes, and Masbate, and they prefer to inhabit areas close to water sources. They prey on frogs, mice, small rodents, lizards, and other snakes.
Amazingly, this serpent can spit its neurotoxic venom at a distance of three meters, and with deadly precision. The bite itself does not cause severe tissue damage, but the venom causes respiratory paralysis and even death in just 30 minutes. Other signs and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, syncope, and convulsions.
#6. Tiger Snake
Tiger snakes are commonly found in the southern and eastern part of Australia. They can adapt to the most hostile environments.
They have prominent yellow and black cross-bands; hence, the name. But not all of them bear this pattern. Tiger snakes with dark olive-brown to blackish-brown color with off-white to yellowish cross-bands that vary in thickness are more common.
Like most snakes, they flee when they encounter people. However, it can be aggressive when cornered. Tiger snakes are highly venomous, and although it usually takes 6-24 hours for the venom to run its course, death may ensue within 30 minutes of the attack. Symptoms of a Tiger snake bite include localized pain in the foot and neck, tingling sensation, numbness, sweating, breathing difficulties, and paralysis.
#5. Black Mamba
Black Mambas are found in several parts of Africa. They are actually brown in color and were only named as such due to the blue-black color of their buccal cavity, which they show when they’re threatened. These snakes are edgy, highly aggressive, and they can move at a speed of 20 km/h, making them the fastest land snake in the world.
These snakes can strike up to 12 times in a row with deadly precision. Their venom is neurotoxic and is fast-acting. A single bite can kill around 10-25 adults. They can inject approximately 100-120 mg of venom in its victim’s body, but it can deliver up to 400 mg. In 50% of cases, a 0.25 mg/kg of venom is sufficient to kill an individual if it reaches a vein.
The first symptom that a person experiences is typically a localized pain in the bite area. Then, a tingling sensation in the mouth and extremities can be felt, along with double vision, tunnel vision, disorientation, and fever. They may also present with excessive salivation including foaming at the mouth and nose, and the lack of muscle control (ataxia). If left untreated, the symptoms are likely to rapidly progress. The victim may then manifest with signs and symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, pallor, shock, nephrotoxicity, cardiotoxicity, and paralysis. Ultimately, convulsions, respiratory arrest, coma, and then death ensues. Death occurs between 15 minutes and 3 hours, depending on the nature of the bite.
The mortality rate is almost 100% without an anti-venom.
#4. Taipan Snake
Taipan snakes are native to Australia, and at present, three types exist: the Coastal Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus), Inland Taipan (O. microlepidota), and Central Ranges Taipan (O. temporalis). These snakes are often compared with the African Black Mamba in terms of morphology, ecology, and behavior.
The venom of a Taipan snake can cause coagulopathy, kidney damage or kidney failure. Paralysis and respiratory failure are common since it’s also neurotoxic. The clinical features of flaccid paralysis usually become apparent after several hours; however, major paralysis occasionally develops within a few hours after the bite. Its venom is extremely potent. In fact, it is strong enough to kill 12,000 guinea pigs.
No one ever survived from a Taipan’s bite before the advent of an anti-venom, and death typically ensues within an hour. Most victims remain in intensive care for prolonged periods of time even with successful administration of an antivenin.
A Fierce or Inland Taipan Snake deserves its own spot in the list for being extremely deadly. A single bite from this species contains 110mg of venom, which is ample to kill at least 100 individuals or 25,000 mice.
#3. Blue Krait
The Malayan Krait or Blue Krait can be found all over Thailand, throughout South East Asia, and in Indonesia. They prefer to live in areas close to water sources, rice fields, and rice dams. These snakes usually invade rodent holes and use them as nests.
They are nocturnal, generally timid, and only more aggressive at night. They prey on lizards, mice, frogs, and small animals. However, they primarily hunt and kill snakes, even their own kind.
Their neurotoxic venom is 16 times stronger than that of a Cobra. Victims initially experience muscle paralysis followed by a period of cramps, tremors, spasms, which ultimately tails off to paralysis. Permanent coma and brain death secondary to hypoxia may also occur.
The mortality rate due to Krait bites was 85% before an antivenin was developed. Nevertheless, nearly 50% of victims perish, even with the prompt administration of an anti-venom. Death commonly occurs within 6-12 hours of the bite.
#2. The Eastern Brown Snake
An Eastern Brown Snake is a native to eastern Australia. They thrive in open grasslands, pastures, and woodland. They are fast, and they have the tendency to become aggressive. They’re known to chase and repeatedly strike aggressors. However, these snakes react only to movement.
This species is responsible for most snakebite deaths in their country. The venom, which contains neurotoxins, is considered the second most fatal in the world. In fact, 1/14,000 of an ounce of its venom is sufficient to kill an adult human. Even a snake bite from a juvenile Eastern Brown can kill a person.
#1. Belcher’s Sea Snake or Faint-Banded Sea Snake
This beautiful creature is the most venomous snake in the world. Their venom is so toxic that a few milligrams can cause the death of a thousand people. They are commonly found in the Indian Ocean, off the coasts of Thailand, New Guinea, and the Philippines.
They are generally mild-tempered. And like most snakes, they only tend to become aggressive when provoked. Studies show that it will only release its venom 25% of the time if it bites.
Which of the snakes did you find most terrifying? Have you ever encountered any of these venomous serpents? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
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