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.
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
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.
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
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…
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
George Bradford, ARKive Media Researcher