Snakes are beautiful, shy creatures that live in various environments such as forests, swamps, grasslands, deserts, freshwater, and saltwater. Snakes are predators that eat rodents, insects, birds, eggs, and young birds, among other things. They are cold-blooded reptiles whose survival is dependent on a suitable surrounding environment that allows them to maintain a constant body temperature. They can only withstand extreme heat for 10-20 minutes and are rarely seen in the open. They hibernate during the winter and may become inactive at times during the hot summer months.
Some are more active at night, while others are more active during the day. You may come across various snakes, but not all of them are venomous. In fact, out of over 3,000 snake species on the planet, only 600 are venomous, and only about 200 are capable of killing or seriously injuring humans. However, some of the 200 venomous species capable of killing or injuring humans are considered extremely venomous and deadly.
Puff adder (Bitis arietans)
The puff adder (Bitis arietans), which is responsible for the majority of snakebite deaths in Africa, is a venomous viper that can be found in rocky savannahs and grasslands throughout Morocco, the southwest region of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and other parts of Africa except for deserts and rainforests regions. It has a stout body with a total length of about 1.0 m (39.3 in) and a skin color that serves as effective camouflage for protection. It’s a slow-moving snake with a lightning-quick strike. It can strike within 0.25 of a second of being threatened, according to Perry’s Bridge Reptile Park.
The puff adder has a large, flattened triangular head with large, vertically upward-pointing nostrils. It comes out during the day but is more active at night and feeds mainly on small mammals, birds, and lizards. It has hinged fangs for injecting a cytotoxic venom that causes necrosis or the destruction of body tissues. The puff adder doesn’t appear to be a friendly snake. According to research, humans can unintentionally step on the puff adder because it is slow and heavily camouflaged. It doesn’t move out of the way like other snakes but instead gives a warning sign by inflating its body and giving a loud hiss. It is primarily a terrestrial creature, though it can also climb trees and swim. If you find yourself in the puff adder’s territory, make sure to watch your steps and surroundings.
Barba Amarilla or Fer-de-Lance
Fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper), also known as Barba Amarilla in Spanish, is a dangerous venomous pit viper found in tropical regions across North and South America. It is one of the world’s deadliest snakes and the most dangerous in Central and South America. The fer-de-lance is the leading cause of fatal snakebite incidents in America. It has a broad, flattened triangular head and is about 1.2 to 1.8 meters (4 to 6 feet) long. It has a skin color of Gray or brown, with a series of black-edged diamond stripes, and can weigh up to 6kg (13 lb).
A single bite from the Fer De Lance long fangs is capable of killing at least 32 people. On average, it can inject 124mg of venom in a single bite, although an average venom yield of 458mg and a maximum of 1530mg has been recorded. Its venom contains an anticoagulant, which causes hemorrhaging and enzymes that cause tissues to die and turn black very quickly. A venom dose as high as 800mg from the Fer-de-lance can cause gangrene, resulting in the amputation of the affected part. If you are bitten by a Fer-de-lance, your chances of survival are determined by where you have bitten and the severity of the bite.
The Fer-de-lance is large, gets easily agitated, and can move quickly. When disturbed or threatened, it is unpredictable and can become aggressive. It will frequently move quickly to avoid danger, but it can also abruptly reverse course to defend itself vigorously. So make sure to stare clear of its path and pit.
Coastal Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus)
Coastal Taipan, also known as eastern taipan, is the most dangerous snake in Australia and ranks number 3 on the world’s deadliest list. The king of the Australian coast is found in tropical dry and wet open forest, grassy woodlands, and sugarcane fields along the east coast of Queensland, from northern New South Wales to Brisbane and northern Western Australia. The Coastal taipan has a long head with an angular brow and a 21-25-row midbody scale. Its snout and face are generally paler than its body color, and its upper body can be a uniform color ranging from light brown to almost black. It has a total length of about 2 meters, and a rare 3 meters of full length have been recorded.
The Coastal Taipan has the longest fangs of any Australian snake, measuring 13mm, as well as the third most toxic venom of all land snakes – a venom so toxic that a single dose will affect the nervous system and the blood, causing nausea, convulsions, internal bleeding, muscle destruction, and kidney damage. Death can happen in as little as 30 minutes in severe cases. The Coastal Taipan is mostly active during the day, especially warm and hot mornings. Records also show activities on roads at night. They put up a ferocious defence when surprised or cornered, freezing before launching their lightweight body forward to inflict a series of fast snapping bites. However, they are rarely aggressive and would prefer to avoid any danger. If you see one or find yourself in its path, don’t panic or run, and don’t stay in its way for too long. Slowly move away and maintain a long distance.
King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
The king cobra is one of the most venomous and deadliest snakes on the planet, and it is the longest venomous snake with a body length that can reach up to 18 feet. It can literally “stand up” and look a full-grown adult in the eye, and when confronted, it can lift to a third of its body off the ground and still move forward. It is a shy snake and will avoid humans at all costs. The King cobra is found primarily in India’s rain forests, plains, and southern China and Southeast Asia, and its coloration varies significantly by region. It thrives in a wide range of habitats, including forests, bamboo thickets, mangrove swamps, high-altitude grasslands, and rivers.
Though the king cobra venom is not the most toxic among other snakes, it is powerful enough to kill 20 people or an elephant. A single bite will deliver neurotoxin up to two-tenths of a fluid ounce, affecting the brain’s respiratory centers, causing respiratory arrest and cardiac failure. It primarily eats venomous and nonvenomous snakes. Lizards, eggs, and small mammals are also on its menu. Seems like the king cobra is a “mind your business” snake. Go your way, don’t block its path, and you won’t get attacked.
Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii)
Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii) is yet another enormous snake. It is one of India’s big four venomous snakes and one of the world’s deadliest snakes. The length of the russelii averages about 120 cm (4 ft) and can grow to a maximum length (body to tail) of 166 cm (5.5 ft). It is a smaller viper that is native to the Indian subcontinent. It has a flattened, triangular head distinct from the neck and a blunt, rounded, and raised snout. The body is stout, with a rounded to a circular cross-section. It has a deep yellow, tan, or brown background color with three rows of dark brown spots running the length of its body. The russelii is mostly found in open, grassy, or bushy areas in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. However, it is also found in scrub jungles, forested plantations, and farmland. It is the leading cause of snakebite incidents and deaths in India. The Indian venomous viper is best known for its widespread distribution, aggressiveness, and occurrence in densely populated areas. It is drawn to rodents (rodents serve as food for Russell’s viper).
The Russell’s viper, with fangs measuring about 16.5 mm (0.65 in), can inject 130mg of venom into its victim, causing symptoms such as pain at the site of the bite, blistering, necrosis, swelling of the affected area, bleeding disorder, and kidney failure. However, the severity of the symptoms is determined by the victim’s age and size. According to a report, venom yields for an adult Russell’s viper can be as high as 130–250 mg, 150–250 mg, and 21–268 mg (a lethal dose for most humans is around 40–70 mg). If you leave in India or other Russell’s viper regions, then you should probably check and clean up your home and surroundings to avoid rodents. Remember, less/no rodents means less/no visit from Russell’s viper.
Snakes can be found in various regions all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica, Iceland, Ireland, Greenland, and New Zealand. So in case, you find yourself in a new area or region, perhaps you moved to another country. Make sure to ask or research about that country and familiarize yourself with possible snakes there. Of course, if you take your time to go through this article, that shouldn’t be a problem. Remember, not all snakes are venomous!