Which are the 11 most poisonous snakes in India, a country with the most deaths caused by snake bites in the world? There are around 270 snake species in India, and 60 of them are venomous.
It is estimated that from around 94,000 deaths caused by snakes that annually occur in the world, 11,000 of them happen in India, or as other resources estimate, the figure goes up to 45,000. People usually encounter snakes during the fieldwork and fishing when the medical help is far away. Most responsible for those figures are snakes known as the “Big four” Indian snakes: saw-skaled viper, Indian cobra, Indian krait and Russel’s viper. But apart from the most deadly, which are most poisonous snakes in India?
As for the 11 Most Venomous Rattlesnakes in the World, we have used the same methodology for ranking the snakes on our list. That is collecting and comparing the data on the toxicity of snake venom. The unit developed for distinguishing the venom strength in animals is called the LD50, for a lethal dose of venom that kills 50% of sample animals (mice in this case) in the laboratory. We used the data on LD50 values from Snakedatabase and UntamedScience. As the referential value we used LD50 values that were injected intravenously, because LD50 values differ from the part of the body and different tissues treated by venom, like intramuscular injection, intraperitoneal injection (when being injected in the abdomen) or subcutaneous injection (injection under the skin).
India is surrounded by tropical waters of Indian Ocean, which is a favorable environment for many snake species both terrestrial and aquatic. That is why aquatic snakes are very common around the Indian shores. Interestingly, aquatic snakes have developed very strong venoms. Most of these snakes are peaceful creatures, attacking only when in crucial need. Of the terrestrial species, most famous of the dangerous and venomous snakes are the “Big four”. Let’s meet the others which might easily be put among them being the most poisonous snakes in India.
11. Banded sea krait, yellow-lipped sea krait (Laticauda colubrina)
This aquatic snake species is present on eastern Indian coast, eastern part of the Indian Ocean, and in western Pacific waters, and it is very common. Apart from the open sea, it inhabits coastal plains, coral reefs, mangroves and shallow waters, and sometimes dwells on the land. Females are slightly larger (56 inches) comparing to males (around 34 inches). They are vividly colored, with blue grayish base color and thin black bands across the whole body.
10. Indian cobra (Naja naja)
The first snake on our list of most poisonous snakes in India that belongs to the notorious group of “Big four” Indian snakes. Indian cobra is perhaps the first species that comes into one’s mind when thinking of cobras because of the recognizable pattern on the back of the hood – spectacle or eye shaped marks. It is a thick species of medium size (from 3-5 feet of length). This cobra is highly venomous and causes many deaths in humans.
9. Viperine sea snake (Hydrophis viperinus)
Viperine sea snake can be found in waters of whole southern Asia, though its occurrence is partial and it is quite rarely seen. Nevertheless, it is highly venomous snake species. It dwells in muddy environments, sometimes even in freshwater, like specimens noticed in Goa river. It is usually lightly colored, being gray on the dorsal (back) side and lighter on the ventral side (belly).
8. Saw-scaled viper, little Indian viper, carpet viper (Echis carinatus)
Echis carinatus ranks 8th in our list of the most poisonous snakes in India. Another snake from the “Big four” group of the most dangerous Indian snakes. It is spread throughout the southern Asian continent, and it is also common in India. It has keeled scales, and it’s vividly colored, with lighter basal color and variously colored spots. Saw-scaled viper is a small snake (average length of 236 inches), but nevertheless very dangerous snake because it is aggressive and easily irritated. Apart from being one of the most venomous Indian snakes, it is considered to be the most aggressive of all snakes in the world.
7. Striped sea snake, slender sea snake (Hydrophis fasciatus)
Striped sea snake ranks 7th in our list of the most poisonous snakes in India. This aquatic snake is spread on the east coast of India. It is a long slender species, with the average length of 40 inches, and small head. The coloration is grayish, yellowish, with light spots or rhomboidal shaped striped pattern.
6. Beaked sea snake hook-nosed sea snake, common sea snake (Enhydrina schistosa)
This is common aquatic snake species found in Asian and Australian warm waters. It inhabits open sea as well as river mouths and estuaries. It is nicely camouflaged for the aquatic environment, being grayish on the dorsal (back) side with lighter and darker bands and lighter on the ventral side (belly). It is highly toxic and will not hesitate in defending itself when feeling threatened. Bites are common in fishermen who catch them in nets and they can be fatal, which makes it one of the most poisonous snakes in India.
5. Black banded seakrait, blue-lipped sea krait, large scaled sea krait (Laticauda laticaudata)
More common in waters of Pacific Ocean, this highly venomous aquatic snake can be found on northastern Indian coasts. It is slender and relatively short (around 27 inches) snake vividly colored in black and blue grayish bands. It rarely encounters humans, because it is not defensible and will attack only if highly necessary.
4. Monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia)
Naja kaouthia ranks 4th in our list of the most poisonous snakes in India. Monocled cobra is a widespread snake in southern Asia, and in India, it is most widely spread in northeastern part of the country. It is highly adaptable, so it can be found in a variety of habitats, including urban areas, but preferring wet areas such as swamps and mangroves. The name comes from the pattern on the back side of its hood, circular monocle-like shape. Average length goes up to 5 feet. Apart from being highly venomous, it is one of the fastest striking cobras, and death can occur in just an hour after envenomation.
3. Indian krait, common krait, blue krait (Bungarus caeruleus)
Indian krait, belonging to the “Big four”, is considered to be one of the deadliest snakes in India, causing death in 50% of cases even if medically treated. It is widely spread throughout India and surrounding countries, inhabiting a wide range of different landscapes and is known under many common names. It dwells in forests, grasslands, cultivated lands, jungles and can be found up to 1600 meters asl. It is a slender snake, of 35 inches average length. Indian krait is recognizable for its dark base color and light thin stripes on the dorsal (back) side.
2. Yellow-bellied sea snake (Hydrophis platurus)
Yellow-bellied snake is perhaps one of the most widespread aquatic snake species. It inhabits waters and coastal belts of warm Indo-Pacific oceans. Although it dwells in the open sea, it is also usually found dwelling near the coast. It is easily recognizable for its yellow and black longitudinal stripes and paddle-like tail that helps it maneuver in the water. Although it is very unlikely to encounter humans, when bitten, the wound must be immediately treated, but luckily this snake’s fangs are relatively short (0.5 inches), and it injects only a tiny portion of venom.
1. Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii)
Apart from being the most venomous of 11 most poisonous snakes in India, this snake is also one of the deadliest snakes in southern Asia. It is also one of the famous snake from the “Big four” group, for it is one of the snakes that inflict deadly bites in humans. It is present throughout the whole continental India apart from islands and Himalayan outskirts. Russel’s viper inhabits a wide range of ecosystems, forests, wetlands, grasslands. It is a recognizable nasty looking snake, with long (of 3,3 feet average length) thick body and keeled scales. The coloration varies from brownish hues to red-orange to gray, but the common feature is that its patterns and color faint with the snake’s age. If feeling threatened, this snake can be very aggressive and attacks by coiling the body and hissing loudly.