It seems as though there’s a pretty strong divide when it comes to snakes – but whether you love the slithering species or find them scary, the snakes we’ve rounded up should seriously be avoided. These are some of the most deadly snakes in the world, so study up, and know what to watch out for in case you happen to come across one.
1. King Cobra
There are a lot of accolades for the King Cobra – it’s the world’s longest venomous snake, a mythological symbol, and is the national reptile of India. Although the King Cobra is described as actually being fairly shy and avoidant of humans, it is rather rapidly irritated by sudden movements.
Hospital records across countries that the King Cobra calls home indicate that bites from a King Cobra are actually quite uncommon. In fact, the King Cobra itself is far more at risk. The hooded snake is protected in both China and Vietnam, and under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act in India. Killing a King Cobra can result in up to six years imprisonment.
2. Philippine Cobra
As its name would suggest, the Philippine Cobra is native to the northern Philippines, although unlike some other cobras, it’s not just its bite that spells bad news for its victims. The Philippine Cobra can accurately spit its venom at its intended target as far as three meters (or just under 10 feet) away.
Typically of a medium build, the Philippine Cobra has long cervical ribs which can then expand. Thus, when a Philippine Cobra feels threatened, a hood may appear. This deadly snake isn’t without its predators, namely humans, the King Cobra, the mongoose, and certain birds of prey.
3. Eastern Green Mamba
Hold on to your dancing shoes because the Eastern Green Mamba is actually quite shy! Located in the coastal regions of Southeast Africa, the Eastern Green Mamba is known to prefer to avoid humans unless it has been bothered during breeding season (September through February).
The average adult female Eastern Green Mamba generally clocks in at about six feet long, with males being slightly smaller. Its diet involves small birds, eggs, and small mammals such as bats. With relatively few natural predators, the Eastern Green Mamba can thrive. Did you know the oldest recorded Eastern Green Mamba lived a whopping 18.8 years?
4. Common Lancehead
Don’t worry too much about the name of the Common Lancehead, the venomous pit viper isn’t about to pop up in the average backyard. Found in the tropical lowlands of South America, such as southeastern Colombia, parts of Venezuela and Trinidad, the Common Lancehead prefers rain forests.
What makes the Common Lancehead such a formidable foe is its coloration and body pattern. Its ground color varies, and may be olive green, brown, tan, gray, or yellow. Thus, the Common Lancehead can stay camouflaged for hours in a field, before striking. Luckily, treatment should someone be bitten by one of these scary snakes is possible, assuming medical attention is sought right away.
5. Chinese Cobra
Unlike some of the less aggressive snakes on this list, the Chinese Cobra is pretty ready to strike at a moment’s notice. Hyper alert and aware of its surroundings, this venomous snake will spread its hood and bite anything it thinks might pose as a threat.
Younger Chinese Cobras possess a greater fear of their surroundings, and are more aggressive and apt to attack than adults. As they are exceptionally adaptable to all kinds of surroundings, areas populated with people may be just as likely as woodlands to have Chinese Cobras lurking about. However, the Chinese Cobra prefers to slink away rather than stand off against a human – so at least there’s that.
6. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
While it may seem difficult to imagine the appeal, Southern Fried Rattlesnake may appear on some restaurant menus in the southwest United States and Mexico where the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake lives. But, in order to serve up some you’d have to first catch one, and we wish good luck to anyone who goes up against one of these deadly snakes.
Just like an outlaw of old, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake won’t back down from a stand-off. As one of the more aggressive snakes, rattlesnakes will coil and rattle their tails to warn its foes. If rattling doesn’t scare off its adversary, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake will strike – so it’s worth listening to that rattle.
7. Blue Malayan Coral Snake
Don’t be fooled by the beautiful colors of the Blue Malayan Coral Snake, this uncommon member of the Elapidae family can be deadly. Although a young Blue Malayan Coral Snake may easily be confused with a Pink-Headed Reed Snake, seeing as they look fairly alike, the Reed Snake is non-venomous, while the Coral Snake has extremely fast-acting venom.
The Blue Malayan Coral Snake possesses unusually long venom glands, which extend a full quarter the length of its body. Native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, it feeds primarily on other snakes. Thankfully a Blue Malayan Coral Snake is likely to flee when confronted with a threat – especially since there’s no known antidote to its venom.
8. Indian Cobra
Revered in Indian culture and mythology, the Indian Cobra is most readily recognizable by its impressively large hood, which expands when threatened. Also known as the Spectacled Cobra, the hood mark most commonly found on an Indian Cobra is made up of two circular patterns connected by a curved line — resembling a pair of spectacles.
Since the Indian Cobra is known as one of the “big four” snakes species known to inflict the most snake bites on humans in India, an antidote does exist. Should someone be bitten by an Indian Cobra, immediate medical treatment with an anti-venom should do the trick.
9. Saw-Scaled Viper
As relatively small snakes, the Saw-Scaled Viper might seem a little less terrifying to come across than say an 18-foot King Cobra, yet this snake species is responsible for the most snakebite cases across the world. However, before a Saw-Scaled Viper goes to strike, it sends a warning worth watching out for.
When threatened, a Saw-Scaled Viper will rub sections of its body together which creates a sound most often described as a sizzling. These deadly snakes are most active at night, so listening for that sizzle is crucial. So, if you’re on a moonlit stroll through dry regions of Africa, India or the Middle East, keep your ears open.
10. Red-Bellied Black Snake
Surprise! Yet another Australian snake to give you the creepy crawlies, the Red-Bellied Black Snake is one of eastern Australia’s most frequently spotted snakes. Recognizable by its glossy, black upper body and bright reddish-orange underbelly, this venomous snake is known to wander out of woodlands and swamplands into urban areas.
At the very least, the Red-Bellied Black Snake isn’t known for being an overtly aggressive species, nor is its venom lethal. Although, even while no deaths have been reported in relation to a Red-Bellied Black Snake bite, significant illness, severe pain and even loss of smell are direct effects lest an anti-venom be administered.
11. Sea Snake
Although Sea Snakes look just like their land inhabiting counterparts, they are some of the most completely aquatic creatures of all air-breathing animals. Many Sea Snakes are actually almost completely incapable of life on land at all, so it’s only at sea that these highly venomous swimmers pose a risk.
Although envenomation by a Sea Snake is rare, in an instance when venom has been injected, the victim may not even feel the sneaky swimmer’s bite. Little swelling will occur at the bite site, if at all, and symptoms are quite slow-moving. So, should you spot a Sea Snake while snorkeling around Costa Rica, maybe just stay away and play it safe.
12. Russell’s Viper
Named for Scottish herpetologist (scholar of amphibians and reptiles) Patrick Russell, who studied and documented many of India’s snakes in the 18th century, Russell’s Viper is a very dangerous snake to come across. As another member of the “big four” snakes of India, Russell’s Viper is unfortunately often found in densely populated areas.
While many venomous snakes on our list are likely to avoid humans, Russell’s Vipers are known to be aggressive. Angered Russell’s Vipers move in an S-like pattern and raise the first third of their body, letting out a loud hiss. The Russell’s Viper’s hiss is said to be the loudest of all snakes. Seriously, we can’t imagine any sound more scary.
13. Collett’s Snake
It can seem like almost every animal and insect in Australia is fatally dangerous, from the different dangerous jellyfish, crocodiles, spiders and of course, snakes. Among the many deadly creatures Australia is home to is Collett’s Snake. Named in honor of Norwegian zoologist Robert Collett, Collett’s Snake is dark brown or black with pale yellow to orange underbellies.
Initially thought to be only mildly venomous to humans, the records have been re-written after Collett’s Snake proved itself responsible for cases of severe envenomation. Now that more is known of Collett’s Snake and its venom, the same anti-venom used for bites from a Black Snake or Tiger Snake can be administered.
14. Monocled Cobra
Not to be confused with the Spectacled Cobra, the Monocled Cobra has one O-shaped pattern on its hood (hence the relation to a monocle versus spectacles). Its surface skin may be yellow, brown, gray or black, but as it ages the deadly snake becomes paler, to the point of appearing pale olive green or gray.
Most active at dusk, an older Monocled Cobra would be far easier to spot than an antsier adolescent or adult snake. With fixed anterior fangs and a moderate ability to spit venom too, Monocled Cobras will raise the tops of their bodies and spread their hoods, hissing loudly, before striking any potential threat.
15. Eastern Brown Snake
Another day, another Australian snake species to be concerned over. The Eastern Brown Snake, also known as the Common Brown Snake can be found in most habitats, so stay alert. Coming in second place of the world’s most venomous land snakes, the Eastern Brown Snake is responsible for a whopping 60% of all snake-bite fatalities Down Under.
Preferring warm spring days, the Eastern Brown Snake will slink around seeking out prey before retiring for the night. Less fond of cooler weather, this Elapidae species of snake actually hibernates in winter, only coming out occasionally to sunbathe. Honestly its weather preferences are pretty relatable — who doesn’t enjoy summer sun over a cold winter day?
16. Black-Necked Spitting Cobra
Despite how ominous a black snake might seem, the Black-Necked Spitting Cobra isn’t actually responsible for a significant amount of snake-bite related fatalities. Still, don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. The Black-Necked Spitting Cobra ejects venom from its fangs when it feels threatened, and although it may not be fatal, the effects are far from benign.
Should the neurotoxic venom (destructive to nerve tissue) make contact with skin, it can cause extreme irritation, including blisters and inflammation if it’s not immediately washed off. And if the Black-Necked Spitting Cobra should spit into your eye (ew) it can cause blindness.
17. Puff Adder
Responsible for more snake-bite fatalities in Africa than any other snake, the Puff Adder is awfully bad tempered. Relying on camouflage to keep out of harm’s way, if disturbed this venomous viper species will tightly coil and lift the fore part of their body in an S-shape, hissing and puffing at the imposing threat.
Rather aggressive, if a Puff Adder is provoked it will strike suddenly. While younger snakes will immediately recoil after striking, winding up to strike again should they need to, more mature Puff Adders may bite down with such strength that their long fangs might kill just by the physical trauma inflicted.
18. Inland Taipan
Native to central-east Australia, the Inland Taipan is similar to its sibling, the Coastal Taipan, in how venomous it is, but while the Coastal Taipan is pretty aggressive, the Inland is actually quite shy. Preferring to flee from trouble, the Inland Taipan is far more reclusive than many venomous snakes.
That being said, if provoked, the Inland Taipan will of course defend itself. So, while its venom is the most toxic of any snake, sea snakes included, it so rarely comes in contact with people, that the average person shouldn’t panic about a possible encounter. Still, should an Inland Taipan cross your path, it’d be best to let it slither away to safety.
19. Green Anaconda
The first thing that probably comes to mind when picturing anacondas is J.Lo battling a huge one in the Amazon jungle in the film Anaconda. While the movie might give you all those nostalgic feels, steering clear of the green anaconda is probably best. This particular type is the most dangerous and heaviest snake of the anaconda species.
Green anacondas are non-venomous boa species, and therefore not the biggest threat to humans, but when they do coil and constrict, the force is so powerful that the snake’s prey stands no chance of escaping. The species is primarily nocturnal and sends most of its time in or around water.
20. Egyptian Cobra
It shouldn’t be too hard to guess where this deadly snake lives. One of the largest cobra species native to the continent, the Egyptian Cobra has a storied history. Ever-present in Egyptian mythology, the Egyptian Cobra was used to represent the role of the Pharaohs, and was supposedly involved in the story of Cleopatra’s demise.
Like all cobras, the Egyptian Cobra is capable of expanding its cervical ribs to form a hood — an easy indication it’s upset. Although it doesn’t spit like some of its cobra cousins, the Egyptian Cobra’s venom shuts down the nervous system in stages, in addition to a whole slew of severe side-effects.
21. Many-Banded Krait
Most commonly found in humid lowlands and marshy areas, the Many-Banded Krait is native to Taiwan, southern parts of China, northern Vietnam, and sometimes in Thailand too. Preferring the nighttime, this nocturnal snake may be more likely to strike at night, but overall isn’t all that aggressive.
Like the Sea Snake, the Many-Banded Krait is highly venomous, and super sneaky – bite victims may not know how severe their condition will be based on early symptoms. However, within six hours more serious effects from envenomation will occur. Treatable with an anti-venom, the Many-Banded Krait was called the “two-step Charlie” for the mistaken assumption that the venom can kill in two steps.
22. Eyelash Viper
Don’t get lost in those long “lashed” eyes – the Eyelash Viper is definitely venomous. Named for its most distinguishing feature, the Eyelash Viper has modified scales that sit above its eyes, resembling eyelashes and giving the pit viper its misleadingly charming name.
The Eyelash Viper’s fangs sit at the front of the upper jaw, and retract when not being used against prey or an attacker. Classified as an ambush predator, the Eyelash Viper will lie in wait until the perfect opportunity to strike. In some villages in South America there are myths that the viper will wink before striking, although like all snakes, even the Eyelash Viper has no eyelids.
23. Green Jararaca
Found in the Amazons region of South America, the Green Jararaca is a member of the venomous pit viper family. These deadly snakes tend to spend their time in trees, shrubbery and along forest clearings. Given the height at which they’re found, when a Green Jararaca strikes, bites are most often to the hands, arms and face.
Nocturnal by nature, the Green Jararaca spends the daytime hiding in tree hollows, among thick foliage or generally out of sight. Another pit viper that prefers to ambush its prey, the Green Jararaca will wait patiently for an opportune moment to strike instead of actively going after its prey.
24. Tiger Snake
Often banded and colored like its namesake the tiger, the Tiger Snake is a resident of southern Australia and Tasmania – where it turns out the Tasmanian Devil isn’t the only thing to watch out for. Responsible for 17% of snakebite victims in Australia between 2005 and 2015, the Tiger Snake’s venom is thankfully treatable.
The anti-venom, and method of treatment used in the event of a Tiger Snake bite is the same as all Australian poisonous snakes, so identification of the species isn’t necessary. However, should someone kill or injure a Tiger Snake, a protected species across most Australian states, the penalty incurred can be a fine of up to $7,500 and even 18 months of jail time.
In Afrikaans and Dutch “boom” means “tree” and “slang” means “snake” meaning that a Boomslang is quite literally a tree snake, although a highly venomous one. Part of the Colubridae family, most of the Boomslang’s kin aren’t all that dangerous to humans since their venom glands and fangs are actually quite small. The Boomslang however, is an exception.
The Boomslang delivers a highly poisonous venom through large fangs located at the back of its jaw. As far as deadly snakes go, the Boomslang is also pretty sneaky, since its venom is slow-acting. So, if you’ve been bitten by one, don’t let the lack of symptoms fool you!
26. Coastal Taipan
Although it may only be the third most venomous land snake in the world, the Coastal Taipan takes the top spot as the longest venomous snake in Australia. Matured adult Coastal Taipans typically come in at 1.5 – 2 meters, or roughly the equivalent of the average male basketball player (to put it into perspective).
Should you find yourself Down Under, the Coastal Taipan is primarily active in the early to mid-morning – so maybe time any leisurely strolls in the afternoons. Although its not known for being one of the more confrontational deadly snakes, when it does bite, its effects can be felt within 30 minutes.
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