Snakes are reptiles and are among the oldest animals in the world. They have been around since the days of the dinosaur. Today there are over 3000 different species of snakes. They can be found on every continent in the world, except for Antarctica, which is too cold to support life for snakes. Also there are no snakes on large islands like Ireland, Iceland and New Zealand, or on some smaller islands in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.
Some snakes are very large, while others are very small. Some are quite colorful, while others blend into their location. Snakes are everywhere: on the ground, in trees, under rocks and in the water. In some countries, snakes slither into people’s houses, undetected.
All snakes are predators. Once they catch their prey, they use their strong, flexible bodies to hold onto their victim and keep them from struggling. Their sharp, backward-pointing teeth keep their prey from escaping. And some snakes have fangs, which inject venom into their captured prey.
While some snakes are quite harmless, others are extremely dangerous to people. In this book, we are going to take a look at 20 of the most dangerous and deadly snakes in the world.
There are two kinds of taipans: the common taipan and the inland taipan. The common taipan is found in Papua New Guinea and in the northern part of Australia. The inland taipan is found in the dry desert parts of Australia.
The common taipan is a huge snake at about li feet long. The inland taipan is shorter at close to 6 feet in length. But don’t let the smaller size fool you, as it is sometimes called the fierce snake because of its extremely powerful and deadly venom, as well as for how it attacks its prey.
In fact, the inland taipan is the most venomous snake in the world. The venom from a single bite is powerful enough to kill 50,000 mice. Fortunately, this type of taipan will likely slither away rather than attack.
It’s a different story for the common taipan. This is not a snake you want to provoke, because an angry common taipan is one of the most dangerous snakes on earth. Any movement near it can be enough to trigger an attack, and the attack won’t stop with only a single bite.
Fortunately, though, taipans don’t hunt people. Their diet is mainly rats and mice. Unlike many other venomous snakes, which strike once and then retreat and wait for their prey to die, taipans are much more aggressive. It’s not unusual for a taipan to strike quickly, and then hold onto its prey with its body, while biting it repeatedly. The venom is so deadly, that the victim doesn’t have much time to try to fight back. It always loses the battle to this dangerous and deadly snake.
02. Black Mamba
The black mamba is an extremely dangerous, very large snake that lives in the open woodland and savannahs of Africa. They are one of Africa’s most feared snakes, partly because they often find their way inside people’s homes.
Despite their name, black mambas are actually not black. They are gray or brown in color. They are called black mambas because of the black lining in their mouths.
Black mambas are elapids, which means that they have small, fixed fangs. These fangs deliver a large amount of powerful, fast-acting venom in each bite.
Two things make them so dangerous and so feared.
One is their size. Mambas range in size from about 10 feet to the largest at about 15 feet in length. That makes them the second-longest venomous snake in the world.
The other is their speed. Mambas can reach speeds of up to 12 mph, which is as fast as an adult in good shape can run. But over rough ground and thick undergrowth, it can outpace a person who is trying to run away. That’s bad news because a single mamba bite can kill a person in as little as fifteen minutes.
In addition to their speed, the black mamba is an agile climber. It sleeps at night in an underground den and hunts during the day, often climbing bushes and trees in search of prey like birds, rodents and other small animals. When hunting, the black mamba moves around very quickly, often lifting up to a third of its body off the ground. This makes it a deadly predator, as it also has an excellent sense of smell, sharp eyesight and can feel the vibrations made by animals moving around on the ground.
Cottonmouths can be found in the southeastern part of the US, where they live in or near water. This snake gets its name, because when open wide, the lining of its mouth appears white and cottony.
They are part of a group of snakes known as pit vipers, which are snakes that have heat sensors on their head (like boas and pythons). These sensors are located in two pits (or holes). The pits are located on either side of the cottonmouth’s face, between the nostril and the eye.
Ail adult cottonmouth has a thick body and can be between 4 and 5 feet in length. It is dark in color on top and lighter underneath. A young cottonmouth has stronger markings and a bright yellow tail. (It uses its tail to lure prey to it.)
Cottonmouths are night hunters. They wall eat almost any prey, as long as it’s the right size. That includes frogs, fish, lizards, birds, baby alligators and other small mammals.
When hunting, it lies in wait for its victim to come near. It can sense the presence of prey either by feeling vibrations as the prey moves, or by smell. If it is going after a warm-blooded animal, its heat sensors make it possible to strike its prey accurately.
Once it has captured prey in its strong jaws, it doesn’t let go. Since many of its victims are caught in or near water, it doesn’t want to allow the prey to escape into the water since it would have trouble following the scent. Instead, the cottonmouth clamps down tightly and waits for the venom to do its work.
This is a snake that wall not back down if approached by people. When threatened, it coils itself up and opens its mouth wide, which is a very scary sight. If bitten, the venom can cause serious harm and may even be fatal.
04. Coral Snakes
There are over 60 different kinds of coral snakes in the world. They are found in the hot, tropical areas of both North and South America, as well as in Australia and Southeast Asia. Coral snakes get their name because of their brilliant colors. Many have bands of bright yellow and red.
Coral snakes may be small in size, but they are deadly. Their average length is about 3 feet, but some are only as thick as a pencil and grow to a length of about 12 inches. No matter their size, they are part of the elapid family of snakes, which are highly venomous. Coral snakes have small mouths and tiny fangs, but their venom is very potent.
If you were to see a coral snake, you might be tempted to pick it up because it looks so harmless and attractive. But you would be making a fatal mistake because the venom from a coral snake is strong enough to kill a person. (These snakes are born with fangs that are fully developed and venomous.) Fortunately, coral snakes will usually slither away, rather than attack.
Coral snakes live mainly underground or buried in leaf litter on the forest floor. They feed mostly on lizards, frogs, nesting birds, rodents, and even smaller snakes. Their venom takes time to work, so these snakes tend to hold onto their victim when they bite with their fangs.
Even though it is small, it has few predators. It defends itself by spreading an awful smelling liquid over its attacker.
05. Sea Snakes
Sea snakes can be found in warm waters throughout the world. In fact, it may surprise you to know that there are more sea snakes than snakes that live on the land, in the world.
Most sea snakes prefer shallow water, but there are a few, like the yellow-bellied sea snake, that live in the ocean.
Sea snakes belong to the elapid family of snakes. Like all elapids, they have fangs that can be used to inject deadly venom into their prey. Most grow to a length of between 4 and 5 feet. Although they live in the sea, these snakes do not have gills like fish. They must come to the surface to breathe every hour or so. The fact that they have bigger lungs and that some can absorb oxygen through their skin helps them to stay underwater for this length of time.
They have adapted to life in the water and few ever come ashore for any reason. (Sea kraits come ashore only to lay their eggs. Most bear live young right in the water.) Their bodies tend to be flatter than land snakes. Their tails are flat and shaped like paddles, which helps them to move through the water.
Since they live in the water, they prey on fish, often cornering them in crevices and using their fangs to inject them with venom. The venom paralyzes the victim, preventing it from trying to escape or fight back. Then the sea snake swallows its victim whole.
The boomslang is a large, rear-fanged venomous snake, which can be found in the open woodland and savannah regions of Africa. The word boomslang means tree snake, so as you can probably guess, boomslangs spend a lot of time in trees.
The largest boomslangs are close to 7 feet long. Most though, average around 3 to 5 feet in length. As is common with tree snakes, the boomslang is on the thin side.
It needs to be, so tree branches can support its weight. One thing that is unusual about this snake is that its head stands out from and is much larger than its body. It also has very large eyes with round pupils, which is uncommon in snakes. This means that it has excellent eyesight.
It hunts during the day and when hunting, the boomslang uses this excellent eyesight to its advantage. A boomslang will move its head from side to side in order to get a better view of anything right in front of it.
Their prey consists of animals that are smaller than they are. (They wall flee from anything that would be too large to eat.) Birds, frogs, lizards, and other small mammals are their main target.
While hunting, the boomslang wraps most of its body around the branch of a tree, leaving only the front part sticking up as if it were a twig. It remains still, waiting for its prey to approach and then striking quickly.
The boomslang is a very dangerous snake, even to people. It is one of the most poisonous animals in the world, even though it’s not that large, its venom is very poisonous and deadly. When attacking prey, it will strike with its front teeth and then move its victim further back into its mouth so it can chew on it in order to inject it with venom.
07. King Cobra
The king cobra is found mainly in the forests of India and Southeast Asia. They live in places that are warm and wet with dense undergrowth, such as swamps and rain forests.
King cobras are members of the elapid family of snakes. All elapids, large or small, are venomous and also have small, fixed fangs located in the front of their mouths. There’s a reason why king cobras have the word king in their names. Ifs because they are the largest venomous snakes in the entire world. The largest are more than 18 feet long.
It preys mainly on other snakes, including the dangerous krait snake, pythons and ratsnakes. It will even eat other king cobras. It locates prey in several ways. It uses its forked tongue to figure out the location of its prospective meal. It can feel vibrations in the earth caused by movement, and uses that to track prey. And it can see prey moving at a distance of over 300 feet.
These snakes are among the most dangerous and fearsome. Venom from the king cobra is potent enough to kill an elephant, so a person who gets bit is in serious danger. There are few more frightening sights and sounds than a king cobra that has reared up and spread its neck into a hood, while making a warning low growling hissing sound. This is what it does when threatened. It’s best to heed the warning.
When a king cobra finds a victim, it attacks by raising the front part of its body and striking downward with its fangs. Some will deliver multiple bites when attacking. Others may bite down and hold on. As the venom starts to work, the king cobra begins to swallow its victim. It is one of those snakes that are able to swallow larger prey because its jaws are so flexible.
Sidewinders are venomous pit vipers that live in the desert areas in the southwestern part of the United States and the northwestern part of Mexico.
They are considered rattlesnakes, but are quite small compared to other rattlesnakes. They only grow to about 32 inches in length. Because of their appearance, they are sometimes referred to as homed rattlesnakes. These horns, which are located over the eyes, will fold over the eyelids when pressed down. This protects the sidewinders’ eyes when it burrows into the desert sand.
Although their venom is not as deadly as other rattlers, a bite from a sidewinder can be very painful. They will attack if approached. Unfortunately, this can happen accidentally, as they easily blend into the color of the desert sand and they bury themselves in the sand to avoid the extreme heat of the day.
Sidewinders prey mainly on lizards and desert rats, mice and even birds. They hunt at night during the summer months. Young sidewinders attract lizards by moving their tails slowly back and forth. Adults may lie in wait, buried in the sand, or use their sidewinding movement to catch prey. They use their excellent heat sensors to detect their prey’s warmth in the cool of a desert night and then track them down.
These snakes get their name from the unusual way they move through the sand. They move around in a diagonal looping
movement. Only two small parts of the sidewinder’s body touch the sand at any one time. This lets them move quickly enough to capture prey.
09. Puff Adder
Puff adders are members of the viper family. Different varieties of this snake can be found throughout Africa, as they are able to adapt to the varying and extreme conditions of this continent.
Whether they live in the hot desert and savannahs of Africa, or in jungles and rainforests, they adapt well to the conditions and blend into their environment. Their camouflage allows them to hide unseen from prey. Puff adders range in size from about 28 to 59 inches in length.
Their venom is extremely lethal. Just 4 drops are enough to kill a grown man. The puff adder can inject up to 15 drops with a single bite. Their long curved fangs are located at the front of their jaws. By moving their jaw forward, the fangs move forward, allowing them to inject the venom directly into their victim.
Puff adders hunt rodents and other small mammals, as well as birds, amphibians and lizards. Its camouflage allows it to lie in wait, unseen, on the lookout for prey. If the prey is small enough, like frogs, they may just grab and eat it, without even having to inject venom. If the prey is larger, like lizards or birds, it may use its fangs to inject venom and kill its victim. Once the prey is dead, the puff adder will swallow it whole.
The puff adder gets its name from the very loud hissing sound it makes when warning predators to stay away. It produces this eerie sound by forcing air through its lungs. If the warning is not heeded, the puff adder strikes out with incredible speed and force, sinking its fangs into the victim and injecting deadly venom.
10. Gaboon Viper
Gaboon vipers are heavy snakes with thick bodies. They can be found in the rain forests of Africa. They belong to the viper family of snakes.
Gaboon vipers are Africa’s heaviest vipers. They grow to a length of more than 7 feet and weigh in at over 18 pounds.
Like all vipers, they have fangs and are venomous. But these fangs are especially frightening. The fangs of gaboon vipers are the longest of any snake, growing up to 2 inches in length. When they aren’t being used, they fold back against the roof of its mouth and are covered with a flap of skin.
Perhaps because of their size, these snakes are not very active. They don’t even chase after prey. Instead, they wait for prey to come close. This works for them because their markings provide such good camouflage for them on the forest floor. In fact, the gaboon viper is almost invisible until it moves.
They prey on mammals as large as a small antelope. When their victim approaches, the snake will raise its head and strike hard. As it strikes, it stabs its huge fangs deep into its victim with great force. Although its venom is not especially powerful, it can inject massive amounts quickly. Once the animal stops struggling, the viper opens its jaws and swallows its victim.
11. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
The Western diamondback rattlesnake lives in the southwestern region of the United States. It gets its name from the diamond shaped pattern on its skin and from the rattle that is located at the end of its tail. Every time a rattlesnake sheds its skin, its rattle gets one section longer.
The western diamondback is a snake that is feared because its venom can kill people. It’s not uncommon for people to happen across this snake. Its habitat ranges from lush forests right through to deserts. But it can also be found in woodpiles, fields and even backyards, which is what makes it especially dangerous.
As one of the largest rattlesnakes, they range in length from about 3 to 5 feet. Rattlesnakes are pit vipers, which means that they have heat sensors located on the pits on their faces. They use these heat sensors to hunt at night. Their prey consists of small animals like ground squirrels, rabbits, rats or mice. They will either attack victims in their burrows, or lie in wait along animal trails waiting to pounce.
Western diamondbacks are aggressive and will not easily back down if provoked. It shakes the rattle on its tail as a warning if threatened, and wall not hesitate to attack. This is perhaps because they do have enemies. They often become prey for hawks, eagles, coyotes, roadrunners, kingsnakes or foxes.
12. Common Krait
The common krait, which may also be known as the blue krait or the Indian krait, lives in the jungles of India and in parts of other countries like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. The krait has the reputation as being a very deadly snake, and in fact is one of the most feared in India. If you’ve read the storybook Rikki Tikki Tavi, you might remember that a krait was one of the three villains in the story.
Kraits are not real large snakes, averaging only about 3 feet in length, although males can be longer. They vary in color from brownish black to bluish black and have about 40 thin white stripes at regular intervals, which are located mainly along the tops of their body.
Kraits live in a wide variety of different habitats from scrub jungle to fields, and are often found in 01，near water. What makes the krait especially dangerous is that it will hole up practically anywhere that there is an opening, including loose dirt, termite mounds, rat nests and even inside houses during the rainy season. When it does that, it is hard to see. This isn’t a problem during the day when the krait is not easy to disturb. But it wakes up and becomes aggressive at night. When disturbed, it may hiss loudly and try to escape, or it may lie still and then bite whatever is bothering it.
It feeds mainly on other snakes, even the young of other kraits. It also hunts smaller mammals like rats, lizards, mice and frogs. When it grabs a victim, it will hold on tight for a while, which allows it to inject quite a bit of venom.
The krait is especially deadly for a different reason than you might expect. Unlike other snakebites, the bite from a krait doesn’t hurt very much. In fact, if a person is bitten in their sleep they may not even realize that its happened. This leads the victim to think that they will be all right, which can be a deadly mistake. If left untreated, the bite from a krait can kill.
13. South American Bushmaster
South American bushmasters are venomous pit vipers, which can be found in the forested areas of both Central and South America as well as on the island of Trinidad.
Bushmasters rang in size from about 6 and a half to just over 8 feet in length. The largest bushmaster ever discovered was just under 12 feet in length. They are actually the longest venomous snakes in the Western hemisphere and the longest vipers anywhere in the world. Although they are fairly thick and heavy, they aren’t the heaviest members of the viper family. That honor goes to two other vipers – the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake and the gaboon viper. A distinguishing feature of this snake is that its tail has a horny spine at the end. When disturbed, it vibrates its tail like a rattlesnake does with its tail, although it doesn’t make the rattling sound.
Fortunately, this snake lives in areas where people rarely come across it, because if provoked, bushmasters often strike multiple times. When they bite they inject large amounts of venom into their victims. In fact, their venom is so lethal that even the bite from a young bushmaster can be fatal. That’s why it has a reputation as one of most deadly snakes in the world.
Like other pit vipers, the bushmaster can detect warm-blooded prey. The pits located on each side of their head allow these snakes to feel the heat of their prey when it comes near. When it does, they strike quickly, injecting venom into their victim. Their prey consists mainly of small rodents. Once captured, prey is swallowed headfirst. The bushmaster is very patient and will lie coiled in one area, for weeks at a time if necessary, until a victim comes too close.
14. Russell’s Viper
The Russell’s viper is found in many parts of Asia, especially India, but also in Indonesia and Taiwan. It grows to about 3 or 4 feet in length, depending on where it lives. This viper may be slimmer than most other vipers, but it is more dangerous than most. The venom of the Russell’s viper is extremely deadly and these snakes have been responsible for thousands of deaths.
They are mainly active at night, when they become very aggressive. This is not a snake to mess with. If provoked, the Russell’s viper won’t retreat, as many other snakes tend to do. Instead it will quickly go on the attack, molding their body into a series of s-shaped loops. It will then raise the top third of their body, hiss loudly and lash out with a rapid, far-reaching strike, biting as it releases its venom.
What makes these snakes even more dangerous is the fact that, since they can exist in many different habitats including grassy areas and farmland, there are many of them around. It especially seems to like rice paddy fields where unsuspecting workers are bitten while planting or harvesting the crop. Since its main food is rats and mice, it’s also not unusual to find these snakes in areas where people live because rodents like areas where food is easy to find.
15. Saw-scaled Viper
The saw-scaled viper, also known as the carpet viper, is one of the most feared and deadly snakes in both Africa and Asia. In fact, as stated in the Guinness Book of World Records, it causes more human deaths by snakebite than any other snake. It lives in the drier regions of countries like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and in the desert areas of Africa. It is found in great numbers in all of these areas.
The saw-scaled viper gets its name from its distinctive saw-like scales, which are located in several rows on both sides of the body. When these scales are rubbed together they make a hissing sound, sort of like the sizzling sound that drops of water make when hitting a hot pan. This is to warn predators to stay away, but they don’t hesitate to attack if threatened.
The saw-scaled viper is a small snake compared to other vipers with the largest measuring only about 35 inches in length and the smallest only about 12 inches, depending on where they are found. But their small size doesn’t make them the least bit wary. In fact, they are extremely irritable and aggressive. When agitated, they loop their body into s- shaped folds and move slowly, hissing in warning. They strike so quickly, it’s startling.
These vipers are nocturnal, appearing at twilight to begin hunting. Prey consists of everything from other snakes, to lizards birds, small mammals and even centipedes and scorpions.