10. Belcher's Sea Snake
Unlike some of the highly aggressive entries featured on this list, Belcher's Sea Snake, or the faint-banded sea snake as it's also called, is much more docile. A mistake in a 1996 first edition of a Smithsonian guide to snakes started the rumor that this was actually the most poisonous snake in the world. In reality, it's venom is much less dangerous than ones belonging to the majority of snakes on this list, and even then it will refrain from injecting venom in most of its bites.
Venom is measured by the amount of toxin required to prove lethal for half of a sample group of animals. This is called an LD50 test. This is a relatively crude, barbaric experiment for testing venom lethality, as well as rife with outstanding variables such as how the toxin is administered with varieties ranging from muscle to vein to fat injections, or even forced inhalation or feeding. But despite this, it remains the main route by which the world measures the deadliness of venom. The true danger of the snake's venom is uncertain as data surrounding its LD50 results are scarce and difficult to compare to other venoms, while rumors continue to run rampant regarding its danger. Many online sources still frame the Belcher's sea snake as the deadliest, but in reality, it has nowhere near the most lethal of snakebites in the world.
9. Green Mamba
Not quite as nasty as it's notorious onyx-colored cousin, the brilliant Green Mamba is still quite dangerous. Armed with a mix of neurotoxins and cardiotoxins , the green mamba's bite targets the body's organ functions, first causing disorientation through dizziness and nausea before graduating to a swollen throat, a shift in heartbeat patterns, and eventually convulsions and respiratory paralysis.
Fatal results aren't always guaranteed once bitten, however untreated bites are thought to have a high mortality rate. Thankfully, the afflicted area bit by a green mamba tends to swell, making the danger associated with its venom a bit easier to identify and hopefully allow for the application of an antidote. Still, this species has very long front fangs that the snake actually has some control over, making more severe envenoming strikes a likely occurrence. In this case, more often than not the effects set in rapidly, and the bitten victim may perish in as little time as 30 minutes.
Hanging from the trees of Sub-Saharan Africa is a green and black serpent with a subtle yet treacherous bite. Known as the Boomslang, this species of snake is the only one of its family to prove harmful to humans. Normally found to have a set of inept fangs and a compact venom gland, the boomslang is the outlier among the Colubridae family with massive syringe-like injectors that protrude from the back of its mouth. The venom it produces takes time to process, but the symptoms are severe and can consist of headaches, sleepiness, and even mental disorders.
Mostly a hemotoxin , the boomslang's volatile injection can also stall the coagulation of wounds, leading to a lethal end by external or internal bleeding. It can also cause hemorrhaging of the brain and other muscles. Due to the hours it takes for the symptoms to set in, victims are often lulled into a false sense of safety, thinking it to be a venomless strike called a dry bite. As a result, those struck by a boomslang's venom sometimes fail to receive the antivenom they need in time. Luckily for the public, though, this snake remains relatively tepid, not too territorial, and will only strike if handled or threatened directly.
Often referred to as the western brown snake, the Australian colloquially named Gwardar was christened as such after the Aboriginal advice given to those who would run into such a snake, translating to: "go the long way around." While it may be typically shy, this would still serve as great advice given this snake's penchant for speed. Quick to take the defensive, and even quicker to strike, this highly alert species doesn't need much to get nervous. The gwardar comes in a small variety of looks, but will on average grow close to six feet in length.
Its scales feature an orange-brown hue and the head will either feature a small black V shape on the back or be covered entirely by a coat of black scales. Found all across the continent of Australia, these deadly reptiles are found in forests, grasslands, and urban areas alike. It doesn't have the most deadly venom around, but the gwardar delivers it in high doses through its tiny fangs. This can turn fatal as bleeding complications, abdominal pain, and even kidney damage will occur with severity dependant on the amount of venom injected. But instead of risking it and hoping for a low dosage, next time you're in the outback, just follow the advice and gwardar !
Infamous for its namesake noisy appendage, the Rattlesnake is actually a type of pit viper, and a highly venomous one at that. Populating forests and deserts from Alberta down to Argentina, all 36 species of the rattlesnake are endemic to the Americas. Unlike other snakes who may take time and maturity to develop their complex venoms, adolescents of this species are born with functioning fangs and venom able to execute at birth.
The venom, like others, results in decaying tissue and blood clotting impediments. But some species of rattlesnake have even been known to cause paralysis with their penetrating strike. Rattlesnake venom is very complex in general, usually containing a mixture of up to 15 different enzymes. The toxins contain immobilizing and digestive components as well, making sure to not only injure their prey but also to slow down and tenderize it as well. But even with all their neat tricks, many species of rattlesnake are endangered today as a majority of their native habitat has been invaded for the past century by what may be their greatest threat: the automobile.
5. Black Mamba
This snake is considered to be the most dangerous and fear-inducing snake in Africa. But their seclusion and timidness keep Black Mamba snakebite rates low, luckily for the public. These snakes are often identified by their coffin-esque heads and long slender bodies which average at around 8 feet in length and max out at almost 15 feet! One feature you can't rely on to recognize a black mamba, though, is its color. Somewhat of a misnomer, black mamba's are rarely black, often appearing in olive, brown, khaki or grey shades. Adolescents can be found wearing lighter hues of these colors with adults darkening as they age.
If you can't spot a black mamba from its look, though, hope you never have to try to identify by its venom. Before the advent of antivenom for this species, its bite was 100% lethal. Without treatment, its victims will typically pass within seven to fifteen hours of being bitten, and some reports as recent as 2008 tell of victims having a heart attack within one hour of envenomation. Those struck by a black mamba's bite will experience abnormal skin sensations like pins pricking them or a limb falling asleep. They'll then often begin to lose motor functions until an erratic heart rate will set in, often leading to cardiac or respiratory failure.
4. Tiger Snake
Usually sporting a thick, blunt head and even thicker, yellowish-striped body, the Tiger Snake of Australia also has numerous variations in physical appearance depending on its inhabited region. Tasmanian tiger snakes, for example, are typically dark brown or black with faint banding stripes. Meanwhile the Western tiger snake is a much deeper black with bright yellow bands and a yellow stomach.
But no matter the look, these snakes at least share one thing in common: their terrifying venom. The mortality rate of untreated tiger snake bites is about 40 to 60 percent, though given their common occurrence in Australia, fatalities are few and far between. This wasn't always the case, but since the introduction of a specific Tasmanian antivenom used to treat all Tasmanian snakebites, tiger snake casualties have lessened considerably in the 21st century.
3. King Cobra
As the longest venomous snake at a maximum length of more than 19 feet, armed with a grizzled, growling hiss and its iconic hood, the King Cobra is truly majestic. And in proper fashion, its venomous bite is a royal pain in the keister . Sometimes only taking a matter of 30 minutes to set in, the symptoms induced from the venom of India's national reptile can send a victim from feeling a bit tired and dizzy to paralysis and into a coma in no time. Some antivenoms exist, but they are luckily rarely needed as very few envenomed snakebites occur with this breed. In fact, king cobras are mainly interested in eating other snakes like rat snakes, pythons and pit vipers. Still, snake charmers are commonly found throughout India and they make up a good portion of all reported king cobra bites.
2. Saw-Scaled Viper
While relatively small in size, this snake is at the top of the big four of India and one of the deadliest in the world, contributing to more snakebite mortalities than any other serpent. Found often in populated areas, the Saw-Scaled Viper crawls low and deliberate with acute alertness, giving inspiration to its other name: the carpet viper. These creatures sidewind to make there way around, keeping part of their body ever still in case of a potential predator...or prey.
At a maximum of length of just under three feet and brown, gray, or olive patterned skin flecked with white, the saw-scaled viper lurks unseen near cities throughout Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East. Another unique trait of this species comes from one of its primary defense mechanisms. Living up to its namesake, these vipers will grind their scales together like a rigid saw when threatened, creating a coarse, foreboding warning sound towards the aggressors.
Though they still won't give you time to react as they prove notoriously easy to agitate. Victims that suffer a bite from the saw-scaled viper experience profuse bleeding as chemicals in the venom block blood from clotting. These bites can result in permanent damage or loss of an organ, necrosis, extreme pain and swelling, and even a cerebral hemorrhage , making this tiny snake's bite as violent as it is lethal.
1. Inland Taipan
Commonly called the fierce snake, this Australian native is definitively the most venomous snake in the world. Based on venom measurements, it only requires two and a half hundredths of a milligram per kilogram of the target's weight to cause ones demise, and in some tests only one hundredth of a milligram was needed. That means an average 75 kilogram, or about 165 pound, person would only require, at most, about a 1.875 milligrams of venom to meet their end. To make matters even more frightening, the Inland Taipan can administer an average of 44 milligrams per bite, and has a maximum recorded dose of 110 milligrams!
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