The 5 Most Venomous Snakes

These species can inject a toxic substance through their hollow fangs; they use it to immobilize prey or defend themselves.
The 5 Most Venomous Snakes

Last update: 30 April, 2021

To defend themselves from predators or to capture prey, certain animals use a substance that prevents other beings from moving or attacking. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the most venomous snakes in existence. You wouldn’t want to run into any of them!

What are the most venomous snakes?

Venomous snakes are those that can inject a certain amount of modified saliva, known as venom, through hollow fangs. The purpose of this liquid is to immobilize prey or to defend against predators. Unlike constrictors, these snakes don’t kill by ‘hugging’ their victims.

The world’s most venomous snakes are grouped into five families, and in most cases scientists have found an antidote to the substance they secrete. However, when left untreated or when the venom is very potent, a bite from one of these snakes can kill a human being.

1. The Philippine cobra

This isn’t only one of the most venomous snakes in existence… but also one of the scariest! Its appearance and demeanor are truly frightening, as are the rest of its family, the Naja Naja, which are native to Asia.

The Philippine cobra – like the one in the image at the top of this article – is very aggressive. It lives both in the jungle and in open fields, and feeds on frogs, birds, lizards and small mammals. Its venom is deadly and it injects it when it feels threatened. When it raises its head and neck off the ground this means it’s on guard.

2. The black mamba

This scaly reptile is the most venomous African snake; it lives in the center and southeast of the continent. It can grow to more than thirteen feet long and its body is metallic gray or yellowish green. Interestingly, it’s known as ‘black’ because that’s the color of the inside of its mouth.

A curled up black mamba.

In addition, the mamba is very quick: it can move faster than 12 mph. When it becomes aggressive, it raises its head and looks directly into the eyes of the creature that’s threatening it. As for its venom, one bite can inject 100 mg of dendrotoxin: only 15 mg is enough to kill an adult human.

3. The taipan snake

This snake, whose scientific name is Oxyuranus, is native to Australia and the family is composed of three (known) species which live in different areas of the continent: coastal, inland, and central.

The taipan is one of the most venomous snakes in the world.

Taipan snakes feed on small mammals and their venom clots the blood and blocks the arteries and veins of their victims. This fluid can kill a mouse in a matter of minutes. A human victim needs urgent treatment and several days of intensive care.

4. Russell’s viper

Also called a chain snake or scissors viper, this is one of the most venomous and, at the same time, most intriguing snakes in existence. Native to Asia, specifically China, India and Taiwan, it’s one of the main causes of deaths from animal bites worldwide.

A Russel's viper on a branch.

Symptoms of poisoning after a bite by this species include swelling, bloody urine or bleeding gums, a drop in blood pressure, blistering, necrosis, vomiting, kidney failure and a drop in heart rate.

Russell’s vipers – named after a Scottish herpetologist who researched them – are more than three feet long and slimmer than other viperids. Their scales are irregular and of contrasting colors, in shades of brown, orange and gray.

5. The most venomous snakes: the king cobra

This snake, which lives in Southeast Asia, is the largest venomous snake in existence: some specimens are more than sixteen feet long and their bodies are brown or olive, with bronze eyes.

A king cobra with flared hood.

King cobras feed on other ophidians, are diurnal, and their venom is highly toxic due to its extremely potent neurotoxins. When bitten, the victim experiences damage to the central nervous system, followed by blurred vision, vertigo, drowsiness, paralysis and cardiovascular collapse. Death results from respiratory failure.

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