They are found everywhere except on the continent of Antarctica. Over 3,400 species thrive on land and in the seas. These slithering, slimy serpents ruined Adam and Eve. They poison, swallow or constrict their prey. Here are some interesting facts about the deadliest of them.
Inland Taipan: Most experts consider the venom of the inland taipan as the world’s deadliest and most toxic venom. One bite, delivering 110mg of venom is enough to kill about 250,000 mice! It is 50 times more poisonous than the venom of a common cobra. Its venom can kill as many as hundred people. If untreated, death happens within an hour. The snakes are native to Australia and usually avoid human contact. The venom paralyzes muscles, damaging them extensively, breathing becomes very difficult and clots block the circulation of blood. Even with timely treatment, the victim usually has a long stay in the hospital.
Dubois Sea Snake: This sea snake is considered the most venomous among sea snakes. It ranks in the Top Three of the most venomous snakes in the world. It is found in Papua New Guinea, Western Australia and the Indian Ocean and grows to about 7 cm in length. It gives birth to live young and does not lay eggs like some other snakes. Though the fangs are just 1.8 mm long, they pack a lot of punch because of their venom yield of 0.43 mg!
Eastern Brown Snake: It’s deadly because it lives close to populated areas and because nature has made it very aggressive. It actually chases and bites people out of its territory when it perceives a threat. It is a native of Australia and together with the western brown snake; it is responsible for the maximum deaths in Australia. Bites produce pain, swelling of the lymph nodes and bleeding. The blood does not clot. Typical symptoms are neurotoxic and hemotoxic with death occurring from respiratory failure.
The Saw-scaled Viper: It is believed that this snake causes more human deaths than all the other snakes combined! It is found in the Middle East and in the Far East. The venom is slow acting with death occurring over two to four weeks. Victims make the mistake of delaying treatment because of the slow acting nature of the venom and this proves fatal.
Black Mamba: This native of Africa gets its name from the black color inside its mouth. It is grey or dark brown in color and grows to a length of about ten feet. It is also incredibly fast and at 20 km/h is one of the fastest moving snakes in the world. It strikes repeatedly and can strike up to twelve times in an attack. The venom in a full bite is enough to kill ten to twenty five adult humans. The venom causes paralysis of muscles, coma and then the victim stops breathing. A bite, if left untreated, always results in certain death. The mortality rate is 100% -among the highest among poisonous snakes. A bite usually delivers around 120 mg of venom.
Death Adder: The death adder is appropriately named. It is one of the deadliest snakes and has one of the fastest strikes. It can take up a striking position, strike its victim and take up the next striking position in all of 0.13 seconds. It is found in Australia and New Guinea, although it is said Queen Cleopatra used a death adder to kill herself. Without treatment about half the bites are lethal. Paralysis, respiratory failure and death happen in six hours because of neurotoxins in the venom.
Blue Krait: It is estimated that the venom of this snake is sixteen times more powerful than that of the cobra. It induces muscle spasms and cramps leading up to muscle paralysis. It is common in South East Asia and is also known as the Malayan Krait. Because of the non-availability of good antivenins in the past, nearly half the bites were fatal. This Krait is nocturnal and gets more aggressive in the dark. It shows the strange behavior of cannibalizing other Kraits.
The King Cobra: This snake packs enough venom to kill an elephant in a few hours. Untreated bites can result in nearly 60% of humans losing their lives. The venom is a neurotoxin and a cobra can deliver between 200 to 500 mg of venom. Large volumes of antivenin are required to halt the effects of the venom. It is famous as the longest poisonous snake in the world and can grow up to a length of nearly 18 to 19 feet. The king cobra is found in India, Burma, Cambodia and other countries of South Asia. There are many legends and stories associated with Hindu gods and Indian culture. It is said that the hiss of the king cobra sounds more like a growl because it has a much lower pitch compared to other snakes.
Rattlesnake: This snake is from the Americas. It is well known because of the rattle and the rattling sound it makes to warn others. What is less known is the fact that it can strike at up to two third its body length. Baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adults as they cannot control the volume of venom injected in an attack. The venom is hemotoxic and destroys tissue leading to scarring in victims. Sometimes limbs may have to be amputated.
Tiger Snake: The Tiger snake is found in Australia. It has powerful neurotoxic venom that also contains coagulants, haemolysins and myotoxins. It strikes with great accuracy. After the brown snake, it is this snake that causes the most deaths in Australia. Before antivenins were developed, the fatality rate was 60-70%. However, in a few Australian states, the snake is protected. Killing it invites a heavy fine and a jail sentence.