There are more than 3,400 species of snakes in the world, but only about 20% of them are venomous. Most of us don’t encounter snakes, but these reptiles strike immense fear in people. According to an estimate, snakes kill between 50,000 and 100,000 people every year. Did you know that there is a snake that delivers enough venom in one bite to kill 100 adult humans? Here we take a look at the top 10 most dangerous snakes in the world.
The most dangerous snakes in the world
To determine how dangerous a snake is, experts look at mortality, the efficiency of venom delivery, the toxicity of venom, and the snake’s behavior when it encounters humans. The origin of venomous snakes can be traced back to 25 million years ago. Snakes evolved their saliva into venom to protect themselves from attackers and to immobilize their prey.
10-Belcher’s sea snake
The Belcher’s sea snake (Hydrophis belcheri) is found near coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and off the coasts of Thailand. It’s one of the world’s most dangerous snakes. Though it rarely bites humans, its bite could kill an adult human in less than 30 minutes. It bites only when subjected to severe mistreatment.
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The boomslang (Dispholidus typus) is a relatively shy but highly venomous snake. Found mostly in South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia, it doesn’t usually attack humans. They have inefficient fangs and small venom glands. But their venom is highly potent. The venom contains an anti-coagulant, which causes the victim to die due to internal and external bleeding. Its venom also causes hemorrhage into brain and muscle tissues.
8- Indian krait
The Indian krait (Bungarus caeruleus) is also known as common krait or blue krait. It could measure up to 7 feet in length. It is one of the most dangerous snakes in India. Its venom consists of neurotoxins that cause muscle paralysis. Once bitten by the common krait, victims don’t respond to antivenom because paralysis is irreversible. In one bite, the krait delivers enough venom to kill up to four adults. The mortality rate is as high as 70-80% when left untreated. It is responsible for about 10,000 deaths in India every year.
7- Eastern brown snake
The eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis) is found mostly in Australia. It is protected by law, so you can’t capture or kill it. This snake is incredibly aggressive and is found in populated areas like cities and towns, which makes it one of the most dangerous snakes in the world. It has the habit of biting several times in a single attack. When threatened, the eastern brown snakes could chase you, giving you little chance to escape.
6- Russel’s viper
Russel’s viper (Daboia russelii) is predominantly found in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, China, and Taiwan. This snake kills about 20,000 people every year in India alone. Its venom is a hemotoxin that destroys the body’s tissues. While its venom is not as potent as many other snakes in this list, it delivers enough quantity in a single bite to kill about 20 adult humans. Its bite is not only deadly but also painful. The victim experiences intense pain and swelling at the bitten site.
5- Tiger snake
Tiger snakes (Notechis scutatus) vary in color and pattern but they have patches like a tiger. They are found in southern Australia. Their venom consists of potent neurotoxins, myotoxins, hemolysins, and coagulants. It has a mortality rate of 40-60% if left untreated. According to an estimate, about 17% snakebite victims in Australia between 2005 and 2015 were bitten by Tiger snakes.
4- Black mamba
The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is an extremely aggressive and fast-moving predator. It can move at a speed of up to 12.5 miles per hour. Found in sub-Saharan Africa, they can grow up to 14 feet long. They also possess an extremely potent venom that could kill their human victims in less than 20 minutes. A single bite contains enough neurotoxin to kill up to 10 people. Despite being aggressive, they don’t attack humans unless provoked.
3- King cobra
King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the longest venomous snake in the world, growing up to 17 feet long. It’s found mostly in India and Southeast Asia. Its venom consists of neurotoxins. The venom is so potent that it could kill even an adult elephant in just a few hours. About 50-60% humans attacked by king cobra die a painful death. Most of its victims are snake handlers. In India, king cobras are protected by law because of their declining population.
2- Saw-scaled viper
There are as many as eight different species of saw-scaled vipers and all eight of them have deadly toxins. According to scientists, the saw-scaled vipers are responsible for more human deaths than all other snake species combined. Its venom consists of hemotoxins and cytotoxins. The venom acts slowly and causes organ failure if left untreated. The saw-scaled vipers are found in India, the Middle East, the Far East, and some African countries.
1- Inland taipan
The inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) is the most dangerous snake in the world. Its venom is a mix of neurotoxins, hemotoxins, myotoxins, and nephrotoxins. According to various estimates, the inland taipan delivers enough venom in each bite to kill more than 100 adult humans. It is found mostly in remote, semi-arid areas of central Australia. Since they live far away from the human population, there have been few documented human fatalities.