Feb 1

Forget about snakes on a plane, we have snakes on a page - a blog page! These fascinating legless carnivorous reptiles have featured as terrible man killers in works of fiction for centuries. More often than not this reputation is unfounded and most snakes will actively avoid human contact. Different species of snake vary dramatically in shape, size and colour and are found in a range of different habitats on 6 out of the 7 continents in the world – from dry deserts to lush jungles and even under the sea.

Unsurprisingly, it is the species of snake that are potentially deadly to human that get the most attention (even if there are no reported cases) and we have no shortage of them on ARKive. Here is ARKive’s Top 10 Deadliest Snakes.

Black mamba

Photo of two black male mambas fighting

A double dose of deadly – two black male mambas fight it out for dominance

The black mamba is a long and extremely venomous snake found in Southern Africa. It gets its name from its distinctive black mouth.  If its neurotoxic venom was not enough for you, the black mamba is also highly aggressive and very fast – not a good mix if you were to stumble into its territory.

Olive-brown sea snake

Photo of an olive-brown sea snake

Danger in the deep -the olive-brown sea snake

The olive-brown sea snake is specially adapted to a life at sea with special glands located in the mouth that allow it to get rid of excess salt. This snake is also somewhat docile making its enzyme-loaded venom (that digests prey from the inside)  slightly less terrifying.

King cobra

King cobra photo

The king cobra rests…for now

The forest dwelling king cobra lives the longest out of all venomous snakes – the same can’t be said about its prey: other snakes! At least it will give you a warning if it feels threatened by your presence - it growls!

Namaqua dwarf adder

Namaqua dwarf adder photo

A hidden danger waiting to strike – the Namaqua dwarf adder

The Namaqua dwarf adder is found in southern Africa and is the smallest venomous snake in the world, but don’t think that means its not afraid to use it long hinged fangs…

Adder

Adder

The adders in the UK have British venom in the land!

As Britain’s only venomous snake, the adder automatically wins the title of Britain’s deadliest snake. Though as it is a somewhat shy and timid species you would have to be quite lucky to see one and very unlucky to get bitten by one.

Horned sea snake

Horned sea snake photo

That look says it all really

Being on the receiving end of a stare from the horned sea snake would be a scary experience indeed. I doubt knowing that it was also one of the most toxic sea snakes would ease your mind but there have actually no recorded cases of bites to humans.

Green anaconda

Green anaconda photo

The green anaconda showing that you don’t need to be venomous to be deadly

You don’t need to be venomous to be deadly and the green anaconda, the world largest snake, relies solely on constricting its prey to suffocate it so it may be swallowed whole. Despite what you may have seen in various films, attacks on humans are very rare – though there are reported cases.

Arabian horned viper

Arabian horned viper in desert habitat

The desert dwelling Arabian horned viper

King of the desert, the Arabian horned viper is an ambush predator that lies and waits to strike, loading its prey with large quantities of powerful venom.

Indian cobra

Indian cobra and mongoose

An Indian cobra locked in mortal combat with a mongoose

Though often seen with snake charmers in India, the Indian cobra is probably not as easy to win over as you may think. Its neurotoxic venom can paralyse prey and in some cases even cause the heart to stop.

Caucasian viper

Caucasian viper photo

Famously venomous – the caucasian viper

The caucasian viper has some of the most potent of all vipers though it is also widely used medicinally to stop heavy bleeding. This snake will often release its prey after it has injected it and track it down later after it has conceded to the venom.

Year of the Snake 2013

In Chinese culture, the 10th February 2013 marks the start of the Year of the Snake. To celebrate, check out our fortune cookies on Facebook and join in with our daily snake hunt on Twitter.

George Bradford, ARKive Media Researcher

  • Nathan (February 3rd, 2013 at 1:09 am):

    Think Australia is a bit neglected here! What about the Fierce Snake (most venomous land snake in the world), Taipan, King Brown, Death Adder?

  • Clement (February 3rd, 2013 at 3:58 am):

    To celebrate te year o the snake, I want to give a shout out to my favorite but little know snake: the african bushviper. these awesome scaly reptiles have looks that kill!

  • Mark Farmer (February 3rd, 2013 at 11:42 am):

    I love snakes and well all reptiles and i don’t mean to disrupt your list of awesome snakes but i think one should’ve been added and that is the world’s number one deadliest which is our (Australia’s) inland Taipan as named in various Ldi venom top ten lists, but your list here is still awesome.

  • Michael (February 10th, 2013 at 2:41 am):

    I agree about Australia. By some estimates we have the clean sweep of the deadliest. Certainly, the Fierce Snake, Eastern Brown and Coastal Taipan should be on any list.

  • Francis Vaz (February 11th, 2013 at 11:25 am):

    Fascinating list but i fear them all,even the least venomous! i

  • tiffany (March 8th, 2013 at 4:32 pm):

    i love snakes

  • Tom (April 12th, 2013 at 11:06 pm):

    I wonder what party these snakes crept out of. half of them are non venomous. The most deadly snakes are in the sea because they have to kill before their pray can swim away. The Taipan is the most venomous but rarely comes into contact with people.

  • Vuyani Keswa (April 23rd, 2013 at 2:34 am):

    I was four years old when I was attacked by a spitting cobra after wandering unsupervised in a remote forest. I was blinded for three days. I’m now 50 but still abnormally snake phobic.

  • Layne Seegmiller (July 6th, 2013 at 7:46 pm):

    Although many of the snakes on your list are deadly if encountered, many of them live in places where this rarely happens while others like the olive brown sea snake are docile making them less dangerous. So while they may be the most deadly when encountered none of them are on my list of deadliest snakes. You need snakes that are in Highly populated areas like the

  • Layne Seegmiller (July 6th, 2013 at 7:47 pm):

    east indian Krait

  • Jim Thorton (July 26th, 2013 at 5:44 pm):

    Your list of “deadliest” snakes isn’t really a list of the most venomous snakes, or actually, the deadliest either (if you consider the number of casualties from snake bites). But, it’s a neat list and interesting reading.

  • scarlet owens (August 11th, 2013 at 6:58 pm):

    All though beautiful they still give me the willies.something I would.rather see through a glass enclosure,

  • scarlet owens (August 11th, 2013 at 7:15 pm):

    Beautyful,deadly, And something to very careful with.

  • Jesse Bowling (August 18th, 2013 at 7:06 pm):

    I Hate posion snakes ,up too 90 thousand people die every year from snake bite .

  • dallas (October 12th, 2013 at 7:39 pm):

    HELLO!!!!!!!! Dangerous eastern diamnd back rattle snake in alabama thousands die every year because of them

  • black mamba man (October 28th, 2013 at 7:52 pm):

    black mambas RULE!!!!!! but it should be numbered SO I KNOW THE DEADLIEST!

  • Anthony (December 13th, 2013 at 3:17 pm):

    what about coral snakes??????

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