Top 10 Most Venomous Snakes

Top 10 most venomous snakes

Like it or not, snakes are beautiful animals; they are one of Mother Nature’s most prolific predators. Snakes have developed and perfected one of Nature’s most terrifying and effective weapons… poisonous fangs. Although most of the World’s snakes are in fact non-venomous, the ladies on the following list center their attack (or defense) around extremely potent toxins. They are so effective it only takes a tiny fraction of what they inject into their prey to kill them.

The following list is based on their killing potential, meaning, how many lab rats they can actually kill in one bite and then translate that to potential human deaths —assuming a 150 pound (70kg) human being and 20 gram mice. This list isn’t about the most dangerous snakes or the most toxic drop for drop venoms; it is based on a simple calculation of the average venom yield per bite and its toxicity when administered to lab rats. Of course the human metabolism is different than that of a rat; therefore take the results in humans with a grain of salt.

10. Bushmaster

Lachesis muta

Bushmaster - Lachesis muta

Certain deaths with one bite: Rats 1650 Humans 1

Avg. Venom per bite: 400mg
Mice LD50: 6mg/kg
Estimated Human LD50: 420mg

The Bushmaster is found in the South American equatorial forests and can easily reach 9 feet (3m) in length, sometimes over 12 feet (4m), making them the biggest vipers in the World. They are known in Brazilian slang as “surucucu”, where legend say it sucks the milk from cows and sleeping women. It kills oxes in the Costa Rica as “matabuey”. It killed entire mule trains, according to reports from early New World explorers.

Bushmasters are from the subfamily of the pit vipers, so named because they have a pit in each side of the head that function as infrared heat sensors, enabling them to trace the body heat of their prey.

The Bushmaster’s venom is a complex cocktail of toxic compounds. Pit viper’s venom is an haemotoxin and it affects the circulatory system, among others. What this venom does is to “digest” the prey from within even before it is even ingested; this is why these snake bites leave behind nasty scars to those fortunate enough to survive. Sometimes, the bitten limb of the victim must be amputated.

Although the Bushmaster’s venom is relatively weak in toxicity when compared to other venomous snakes in this list, she makes up for it with volume with the average bite yielding 400mg. (one of the largest snake venom injections) From the 6mg subcutaneous LD50 in mice we can roughly extrapolate the LD50 in humans to be around 420mg, which is more than the average Bushmaster’s bite. We could therefore conclude that the mortality rate should be at best 50%. However, even with the antivenin the snake’s bite is fatal in 80% of the cases. The reason behind this discrepancy may come from the fact that these snakes don’t do well in captivity and its venom toxicity may be affected by it. All we know for sure is that this snake is nasty and deadly, one you don’t want to be near.

Bushmasters at Cape Fear Serpentarium

9. Beaked Sea Snake

Enhydrina schistosa

Beaked-sea-snake Enhydrina schistosa

Certain deaths with one bite: Rats 1930 Humans 1

Avg. Venom per bite: 8,5mg
Mice LD50: 0,11mg/kg
Estimated Human LD50: 7,7mg

Also known as the hook-nosed sea snake or the common sea snake, this species is found all over the coastline of the Indian Ocean from Madagascar to Australia. It is notoriously aggressive and readily provoked; being responsible for nine out of every ten deaths from sea snake bites.

Like the majority of sea snakes, this species is highly venomous; however, the volume injected in each bite is low and the envenomation symptoms usually seem trivial or non-existent. For this reason, the victims often don’t seek immediate health care until it’s too late. Death is usually from paralysis of the respiratory system or cardiac arrest up to 12 hours after the bite.

8. Carpet Viper

Echis carinatus - Carpet Viper

 

Certain deaths with one bite: Rats 3300 Humans 2

Avg. Venom per bite: 20mg
Mice LD50: 0,15mg/kg
Estimated Human LD50: 10,5mg

The Saw-Scaled or Carpet Viper is relatively small (Up to 30 inches or 75cm) and ill tempered, it is found north of the equator, in Africa and in the Middle East.

When alarmed, carpet vipers will move slowly with the body looped into S-shaped folds, producing a sound with their oblique scales (serrated scales) rubbing against each other. This sound is similar to a hissing sound and is a defensive alarm used to warn potential predators. This sound is called stridulation and you can hear it in the video below. These snakes are quick to strike and mortality rates for those bitten are high, it is believed that carpet vipers are responsible for more human fatalities than all other snake species combined. Their venom is hemotoxic and very virulent. The venom causes spontaneous internal bleeding, sometimes several days after the bite has occurred.

Carpet Viper Stridulation:

7. Russel’s Viper

Daboia russelii

Russels viper - Daboia russelii

Certain deaths with one bite: Rats 6300 Humans 3

Avg. Venom per bite: 190mg
Mice LD50: 0,75mg/kg
Estimated Human LD50: 52,5mg

Found in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, this viper can reach up to 5.5 feet. (180cm) Russell’s vipers tend to avoid dense forests and are usually found in the open, grassy or bushy areas. These snakes are usually calm and sluggish and won’t react to provocation unless pushed beyond a certain limit; at which they become aggressive to a point of striking with such might that they lift their entire bodies off the ground. These vipers are believed to be heat-sensitive like the pit vipers even though they don’t have the characteristic pit of the later.

Their venom isn’t the strongest among vipers but the volume is considerable. Much like the previous vipers, the venom is hemotoxic and will cause massive bleedings. Severe pain in the zone of the bite may last up to a month.

6. Black Mamba

Dendroaspis polylepis

Black Mamba Dendroaspis polylepis

Certain deaths with one bite: Rats 6640 Humans 4

Avg. Venom per bite: 85mg
Mice LD50: 0,32mg/kg
Estimated Human LD50: 22,4mg

Contrary to what the name suggests, the Black Mamba isn’t black, at least not from the outside. The name derives from the black color inside its mouth. This sub equatorial African snake is the record holder for the fastest snake on the planet with speeds up 14mph (23km/h); the size isn’t shy either, this snake can reach up to 13 feet (4.3m) in length.

The Black Mambas are usually found in small groups. The Mambas can elevate their heads about 3 feet (1m) off the ground when under threat. They can strike from up to 6 feet (2m) away and when they do, they will make several quick strikes before escaping to safety.

Before the availability of antivenins, this snake’s bite was a true death sentence; the fatality rate was 100%. Its venom is a dendrotoxin and the cause of death of its victims is usually attributed to the paralysis of the respiratory muscles; leading to suffocation. It can potentially kill one human in less than 20 minutes.

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