What are the most deadliest snakes in the world? There are more than 2,500 snake species around the globe, less than 200 of which are venomous, and among them, we have chosen the 20 most deadliest snakes in the world.
Over 94,000 people die annually as a consequence of snake attack. This is an estimated figure because a certain number of deadly bites is not reported, therefore also not medically treated, especially in Africa. From this number, most of the deaths occur in southern Asia (India at the first place in the world with around 11,000 deaths annually), followed by Africa and the Americas.
The number of deaths caused by snakes is not linked to the snakes’ venom strength, since many of those snakes seldom get in touch with humans because of the different environment they inhabit. Although Australia is the richest in venomous snake species, as you can check out in our article on 20 Most Venomous Snakes in the World, only 30 deaths have been recorded in the last 20 years in Australia from snake bites.
How do we consider snake a deadly one? First of all, by the number of deaths occurring from its bite. Secondly, those are snakes that are most common in areas in people’s vicinity, like urban areas and cultivated lands. Apart from venomous snakes, deaths can also occur by attacks of nonvenomous snakes! The article “Snakebite mortality in the world” we consulted, although being published in the fifties, gives us a detailed overview of dangerous and deadly snake species all over the world. We have also considered African snake bite institute, Reptile Magazine, Africa Geographic. Still the figures are not exact and not always comparable, since some present annual deaths while others show deaths per 100,000 people. Also, many of the bites even if coming from some of the most deadliest snakes, if treated quickly, do not have fatal consequences.
Most of the deaths caused by snake bites throughout the world occur in India, with the rest of South Asia, Africa, and South America, while the rest of the world provides negligible figures, where for example 58 countries do not even have any reported snake bites. Interestingly, the majority of the deadliest snakes in the world are not endangered species, even though some are being killed as they are a threat to humans and the livestock, like the Philippine cobra. Yet, most of the deaths occur in rural areas and places where medical help cannot be immediately given, although the lethal outcome of various snakebites is from 30 minutes to more than 6 hours. Let’s find out which of the most deadliest snakes in the world are on our list.
20. The python (Pythonidae)
Pythonidae ranks 20th in our list of the most deadliest snakes in the world. We have not chosen any specific python species, but it is on our list primarily because of disregard of people who keep these snakes as pets. Namely, many of the python victims are actually their owners. Although not significant, taking in mind the long time period, 10 people were killed by captive pythons from 1990-2012. Occasionally some cases of deaths caused by pythons are recorded in the wilderness. These nonvenomous snakes include some of the longest species in the world, famous for strangling their victims with their muscular bodies and then eating them whole.
19. Inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus)
The inland taipan inhabits deserts and semi-arid areas of Australia. Considered to be the most venomous snake, we have not listed it at the top of our 20 most deadliest snakes in the world because of very rare encounters with people, although the bites are almost always lethal, after 30-45 minutes. It is a long species, of average 1.8 meters, and evenly brownish in color. It is very fast and nervous snake and will gladly return the assault.
18. Black moccasin, cottonmouth, swamp moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
This snake inhabits southeastern part of the Northern American continent. It prefers wetlands including marshes, bays, lakes and areas around creeks, where they get in touch with humans. Cottonmouth is a thick-bodied snake with the average length of around 90 centimeters. They are usually even and dark in color, though some have crossband pattern.
17. Tropical rattlesnake, South American rattlesnake, Yucatan rattlesnake (Crotalus terrificus)
Tropical rattlesnake ranks 17th in our list of the most deadliest snakes in the world. This snake inhabits South American continent except Ecuador and Chile. It inhabits preferably more arid areas, rocky and stony deserts, savannahs and grasslands. It is rather a large and thick species, with an average body length of around 1.5 meters. It is recognizable by the two lighter lines that go from its head, which then turn into a zigzag pattern, which is lighter colored on the dark brownish background. A research has shown that they only represent 6-8% of the snake bites in Brazil, but have the highest mortality rate.
16. Philippine cobra (Naja philippinensis)
This cobra is endemic to the Philippines, where inhabits a variety of habitats, from tropical forests to cultivated lands, and because of that, many cobras end up being killed, and their population is decreasing, while it is still not considered an endangered species. The average length is about 1 meter, and they are usually evenly colored brownish. Since the encounter with this snake is often, there are many snakebites of which some end with death if not shortly after medically treated.
15. Tiger snake (Notechis scutatus)
Notechis scutatus ranks 15th in our list of the most deadliest snakes in the world. The tiger snake inhabits the southern part of Australia and the Tasmanian island. Their lengths vary depending on the region, but are usually around 1.2-1.6 meters long. They are usually colored in lighter and darker bands. They are considered a very dangerous species in Australia, with the mortality rate up to 60% if not medically treated immediately.
14. Bushmaster (Lachesis muta)
This species is indigenous to the South American continent and southern Central America. It is also the second largest venomous species in the world (after the king cobra), being more than 2 meters in length, some specimens exceeding 3 meters! Considering the length, this species produces large portions of deadly venom. This snake is one of the deadliest snakes in Americas concerning the death rate in humans, which is over 80%, if not immediately treated.
13. Death adder (Acnthophis antarcticus)
Death adder inhabits Australian continent, New Guinea and surrounding islands. Average body length usually does not exceed 1 meter. Coloration varies on the habitat they dwell in, ranging from brown, black, yellow, often with thick bands throughout the whole body. This snake has the fastest strike in the world – it only takes 0.15 seconds to bite its victim. Death can occur in about 6 hours, which is relatively long time, and although many deaths have been prevented by antivenom, it is still responsible for a large number of deaths caused by snakes in New Guinea.
12. Egyptian cobra, Asp, banded cobra, Arabian cobra (Naja haje)
Egyptian cobra ranks 12th in our list of the 20 most deadliest snakes in the world. This cobra inhabits Northern Africa and the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. This snake has been worshiped in ancient Egypt, as one of the oldest deities, the goddess Wadjet. It was also used as a symbol of royalty and divine authority, having its special prominent place in the pharaoh’s crown. Its length ranges from 1 to 1.5 meters, and it is usually lightly colored because of the environment it dwells in. It is considered to be very dangerous species in Africa, inflicting large portions (170-300 mg) of venom in a single bite.
11. Cape cobra, yellow cobra, brown cobra, koperkapel (Naja nivea)
The cape cobra inhabits the very southern part of Africa, and even so it can be found in a variety of habitats, from forests, grasslands to bushy and arid areas. Therefore, its coloration varies much, from yellow, brown, to darker hues to black, and so it is known under many names depicting its color, for example, Koperkapel, which translates as “copper cobra” in Afrikaans. The average length goes up to 1.2 meters. Luckily, this cobra is seldom aggressive, but it often confronts people, and is considered to be one of the deadliest snakes in Africa, being highly venomous.
10. Black mamba (Dendropaspis polyepis)
The black mamba inhabits eastern and southern parts of Africa. The length of this snake is impressive 2.5 meters on average, being lightly colored to match the environment. It is very one of the fastest, nervous, easily provoked, and also very venomous snakes. When attacking, it injects large portions of venom, which kills an adult human within an hour. Due to lack of antivenom, deaths from black mamba are still frequent.
9. Western brown snake, gwardar (Pseudonaja nuchalis)
Pseudonaja nuchalis ranks 9th in our list of the most deadliest snakes in the world. Gwardar is a snake species inhabiting the whole Australian continent, but it’s most common in the western Australia, where it is most responsible species for snakebite deaths – around 70% of deaths caused by snakes in this region are from this one. It is a slender species up to 1.5 meters in length, and can be differently colored. It appears evenly colored in brownish hues, or has freckles or bands. Young specimens are usually recognizable by dark brown to black colored head. It is generally nervous and easily provoked snake, and would not hesitate much to attack.
8. Russel’s viper (Vipera russelii)
One of the notorious “Big four” Indian snakes, Russel’s viper is, apart from being responsible for many deaths, also one of the most venomous snakes in the world. It is indigenous to India, and southeastern Asia. It is a rather large snake, with 1.2 meters of average length. Being this large and very poisonous, it also releases a large portion of venom when bites, and often attacks big prey. Russel’s viper is not very patient when being threatened, and often readies for attack by forming S-shaped loops and hissing violently. It is definitely one of the most deadliest snakes in the world.
7. Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja mossambica)
Mozambique spitting cobra ranks 7th in our list of the most deadliest snakes in the world. This snake is a very common species in Africa, first recognized in Mozambique. It inhabits many different habitats, and can often wander around or inside houses in search of food. It is a slender species, with the average length of around 1.2 meters. The snake defends itself by hiding, sometimes even faking death, but can also respond to the attacker by spreading its hood and spitting the venom out of its fangs up to 3 meters! Additionally, every bite contains 80-200 mg of venom, and only 50 mg is fatal for humans.
6. King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
The king cobra is spread throughout the forests and plains of Southeast Asia, and it is a very common species in India. Its color varies from brown, black, olive-green, with yellowish bands across the body. It is the longest venomous snake in the world, reaching up to 5.5 meters, and although shy, it will defend when needed by rising up at the height of a human! When attacking, it also spreads its magnificent hood while hissing loudly. Although their venom is far from the most toxic, a single bite contains around 7 ml of venom, which can easily kill 20 people.
5. Common cobra, Indian cobra (Naja naja)
These cobras are native and very common in India and surrounding countries. They inhabit most various habitats, except very dry areas, and are also common in city and village suburbs and cultivated land. The average body length is around 1.5 meters. Although they vary in coloration, perhaps it is most recognizable by the pattern on its hood – pale in background color with a black mark on the rear side (a dark eye-shaped mark outlined in the white line). Encounters with people are not unusual, and so this snake has also been considered as one of the “Big four” of most dangerous Indian snakes.
4. Common Indian krait, blue krait (Bunguraus caeruleus)
Bunguraus caeruleus ranks 4th in our list of the most deadliest snakes in the world. Common krait inhabits Indian subcontinent, preferring grasslands and forests, as well as cultivated lands. It is a rather slender snake, with an average length of 1 meter. The colors are often dark, black and blue on the dorsal (back) side, with thin yellow or light bands. This snake belongs to the “Big four” of Indian most dangerous snakes, with a very high mortality rate, up to 50%. During the Vietnam War, American soldiers proclaimed this snake a “five-step snake”, since that is how much a person bitten by this snake has time left to live. Luckily, this is a shy snake, which attacks only when being mostly endangered.
3. Puff adder (Bitis arietans)
The puff adder is one of the most common species found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and part of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It inhabits a variety of habitats, mostly savannahs and grasslands, but it is very common in urban and highly populated areas, therefore it is considered as one of the most deadly snakes in Africa, although not being the most venomous one. The coloration of puff adder depends on its environment, because it is nicely camouflaged, but it is recognizable for its U-shaped stripes. It is named puff adder because it hisses and warns the attacker of its intentions. While biting, it releases between 130 and 350 mg of venom, where only 100 mg is enough to kill an adult human.
2. Fer-de-lance, common lancehead, terciopelo, barba amarilla (Bothrops atrox)
Fer-de-lance is native to Mexico and northern South American continent. It inhabits a range of habitats, including tropical forests and cultivated lands where it is very common. Fer-de-lance is a French name which means “lance head” referring to its head shape, and it is also known under many common names like Spanish barba amarilla, which translates as “yellow chin”, or terciopelo meaning “velvet”. It can be up to 2 meters in length, with a broad distinctive head. Interestingly, females can grow as 10 times as the size of males. The background color is gray to brown with darker diamond shape pattern. It is considered as one of the deadliest species because of the usual encounters with humans which cause death.
1. Saw scaled viper, little Indian viper, carpet viper (Echis carinatus)
This tiny snake (that grows around 60 centimeters), is considered to be the number one of the most deadliest snakes in the world, because of frequent encounters with people, that end in serious envenomation and death. Saw-scaled viper inhabits southern Asia, parts of Middle-East and Central Asia. It is named “saw-scaled” because of its characteristic protruding rough scales, which produce hissing noise made by rubbing the scales together while the snake wriggles before the attack. It is brownish colored with lighter patches. It is included in the “Big four” group of snakes whose bites cause most human deaths in India. They are rather aggressive by nature, and will not hesitate to attack if being threatened.