10 of the Deadliest Snakes in the World

By: Sharise Cunningham  | 
The cobra is one of the deadliest snakes in the world. What other venomous snakes landed on our list? Roberto 33/Shutterstock

Warning: If you have ophidiophobia — an extreme fear of snakes — you may want to avert your eyes; we're about to talk about the deadliest snakes in the world.

There are more than 3,000 species of snakes on the planet. These cold-blooded reptiles live nearly everywhere except — not surprisingly — in the colder climates of Antarctica, Iceland, Ireland and Greenland. And somewhat surprisingly, New Zealand.


But not all of them are deadly. Only about 15 percent (450) of snakes in the world are venomous snakes, and only about a third of those (150) can kill or seriously injure a human with a single bite.

While our list happens to comprise venomous snakes, let's keep in mind "deadly" doesn't have to mean they use potent venom to kill. Several non-venomous snakes are deadly, too, including the garter snake and the python, which kill by swallowing their prey alive or constricting them to death.

Here are 10 of the deadliest snakes in the world, in no particular order.


1. Saw Scaled Viper

Saw Scaled Viper
The saw-scaled viper isn't the most venomous snake, but it's responsible for the most snake bite deaths in India. NileshShah/Shutterstock

The saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus) is the smallest member of the "big four" in India, which includes the Russell's viper, the common krait (Bungarus caeruleus) and the Indian cobra (Naja naja). The saw-scaled viper is thought to be responsible for the most snake bite deaths in India. A single bite can cause internal bleeding and ultimately acute kidney failure. This snake's warning is described as a "sizzle" rather than a "hiss," which it creates by "sawing" (rubbing) its serrated scales together.


2. Inland Taipan

Inland Taipan Snake
The inland taipan's venom is so potent, it can kill as many as 100 people in a single bite. Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock

Quite possibly the deadliest snake in the world due to its extremely potent venom, Australia's inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) is scientifically touted as the world's most venomous snake. The inland taipan lives tucked away in the clay crevices of Queensland and South Australia's floodplains, where it rarely comes in contact with humans. But if you do stumble upon one, look out for a tight S-shape coil just before it darts out to bite. A unique component among snakes, the venom contains the enzyme hyaluronidase, which (thankfully?) spreads the toxins throughout the victim's body, leading to a quick death.


3. Coastal Taipan

Coastal Taipan Snake
The coastal taipan has nearly identical venom to its inland cousin. Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock

Cousin to the inland taipan, the coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) snake is considered even more dangerous because its habitat is more accessible to unsuspecting human visitors. Coastal taipan snakes live in abandoned animal burrows, hollow logs and in piles of vegetation along the east coast from northeastern New South Wales through Queensland and across the north to north-west Australia. The other subspecies, Oxyuranus scutellatus canni, lives in southern New Guinea.


4. Black Mamba

Black mamba
The fearsome black mamba is large and fast, and has an extremely potent venom that kills most humans it strikes. Craig Cordier/Shutterstock

Africa's black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) gets its name from the black interior of its mouth. Watch out for this dangerous snake on your next safari to the savannahs, hill country, and forests in southern and eastern Sub-Saharan Africa. Black mambas are known for being dangerously quick. Don't expect to outrun one, as the snake is one of the fastest on land, and can slither at speeds up to 12 miles per hour (19 kilometers per hour). But it's the black mamba's venom you need to be most concerned about. Before striking you'll get a warning hiss. If ignored, it will then strike repeatedly in rapid succession. Just two drops of the black mamba's venom can cause paralysis and cardiac arrest.


5. Banded Krait

Banded krait
The banded krait is an extremely venomous relative of the cobra. RealityImages/Shutterstock

Another of India's "big four" dangerous snakes is the banded krait (Bungarus fasciatus). It is one of the largest kraits and can grow up to 6.9 feet (2.1 meters) long. The banded krait is generally shy, and mainly nocturnal, and most likely to hunt at night. If bothered, it usually won't bite, though at night it is much more dangerous. As a relative of the cobra, the krait is extremely venomous and a single bite can paralyze muscles, preventing the diaphragm of its prey from moving, resulting in suffocation.


6. King Cobra

King cobra
The king cobra is the world's longest venomous snake. RealityImages/Shutterstock

The aptly named king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the world's longest venomous snake, measuring up to 18 feet (5.4 meters). King cobras have eagle eyes that can spot prey from nearly 330 feet (100 meters) away. They're considered aggressive, partly because of their long fangs and striking appearance. You're probably familiar with the "hood" around the head these snakes create when they face predators. It's a mechanism they use to make themselves appear larger, though they don't really need it. That's because the king cobra's venom contains high amounts of cytotoxins and neurotoxins. One bite can kill a human in 15 minutes and an adult elephant in just a few hours.


7. Boomslang Snake

The boomslang snake hides among the trees, and is rarely aggressive, though the potent boomslang venom can easily kill its prey. Stu Porter/Shutterstock

This deadly snake with a funny name is no joke. The boomslang snake (Dispholidus typus) is another African resident that lives primarily in Eswatini, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Boomslang snakes are rarely aggressive, but will inflate their necks to appear bigger and more intimidating to predators. Their stealth ability to camouflage allows them to easily lie in wait for passing prey. Then they strike and the highly toxic venom causes their victims to bleed out.


8. Russell's Viper

Russell's Viper Snake
The Russell's viper is considered among the deadliest of the true vipers. Sheril Kannoth/Shutterstock

Russell's viper (Daboia russelii), another of India's "big four," is considered one of the deadliest snakes of the true vipers. They're also found in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, where they're cause for high mortality among paddy farmers where they hide in the paddy fields. The snake's venom can lead to acute kidney failure, severe bleeding and multi-organ damage.


9. Eastern Brown Snake

Eastern Brown Snake
A single bite from an eastern brown snake can cause paralysis to humans and other prey. Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock

The extremely venomous eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis ) is native to eastern and central Australia and southern New Guinea where it's usually found in open spaces like woodlands, grasslands, farmland and even in the outskirts of urban areas. Its venom contains powerful presynaptic neurotoxins, procoagulants, cardiotoxins and nephrotoxins. While a single bite from an eastern brown snake is deceptively painless, the snake's venom can cause progressive paralysis and uncontrollable bleeding, including bleeding into the brain. Even though it's not the most venomous snake, it has the distinction of causing more deaths than any other snake species in Australia.


10. Eastern Tiger Snake

Eastern Tiger Snake
One bite from this venomous snake can kill a human in just 15 minutes. Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock

Native to the mountains and grasslands of southeast Australia, the eastern tiger snake (Notechis scutatus) is named for the yellow and black bands on its body, though not all populations sport that pattern. Its potent venom can cause kill a human if a snake bite is left untreated.