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  • The 24-36 inch copperhead is responsible for approx. 35 % of all venomous bites in USA. Read More
  • Cottonmouth snakes forage by ambushing their prey, and will avoid humans at all costs. Read More
  • The average death rate from krait bites in Asia is 7 %. It is highly feared in India. Read More
  • The puff adder can strike with lightning speed and most of its victims are from Africa. Read More
  • Cobra's are the largest and deadliest snakes in the world. Read More
  • Known by its triangular head. The venom from the Russel's viper causes renal failure within hours.
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  • The coral snake is not as dangerous as people think and fatalities are uncommon.
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  • The gaboon is a rather calm snake, but deaths from its venom occur fast.
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  • Lancehead snakes accounts for approx. 90 % of all snake envenomations in South America.
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  • The rattlesnakes rattle is composed of scales. Amputations from its bite are common.
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  • The taipan snake has the lowest LD50-value of all snakes. 0.030 mg/kg can kill 50 people.
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  • Bushmasters are the largest vipers and lengths of 6 feet are common.
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  • The black mamba is largest and deadliest snake of Africa. Most, but not all, survive its bite.
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  • Fangs of sea snakes are mostly to short to penetrate human skin. Related to Cobras!
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  • Tiger snakes are roaming around Australia, including islands such as Tasmania.
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  • The death adder can attract prey by wiggling its tail. Its venom is slow to take effect.
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  • The boomslang is long and slender perfectly camouflaged African snake.
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  • Burrowings asps have the longest fangs relative to their head size of any snakes.
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  • The Moorish viper is the largest viper in Africa. It has a zig-zag pattern on its body.
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  • The horned viper is a typical ambusher. Usually, its bite is not deadly.
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  • The night adder is responsible for most venomous snake bites in Africa - it is not deadly.
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  • The most common types of antivenom and how it is produced and used.
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  • Read about people who has survived snake bites and see how bites affected them.
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  • See annotated videos of venomous snakes from around the world.
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  • See annotated images of venomous snakes from around the world.
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  • How did snakes evolve and how is the geological record of snakes.
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  • See a top 5 list of the most venomous snakes in the world.
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About

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Fatalities, Attacks, Teeth, and Fangs

By Anders Nielsen, Ph.d.

Each year, 8,000 bites from venomous snake species are reported in the USA. On average, only five of these bites lead to death (Gold et al., 2002)1. The total number of snake bites is close to 45,000 (Litovitz et al., 1997)2, which means that around 18 percent of all bites in the U.S. are from venomous species.

Topic: Gaboon
Topic: Coral snake
Topic: Lancehead

According to statistics, the copperhead is responsible for most venomous snake bites in USA.

An overview of facts about venomous snakes around the world

Worldwide, India is the country most affected by venomous snake bites, with around 35,000 to 50,000 yearly fatalities due to snake bites, and Pakistan comes second with approximately 8,200 fatalities (Alirol et al., 2010)3.

Swallowing Prey

Snakes can consume prey significantly wider than their own diameter. The phenomenon that allows them to do so is commonly referred to as jaw-walking.

Snakes’ jaws attach only loosely to their skulls, and unconnected, they can work independently. That is, the two sides can collaborate on pulling the animal inward.

Jaw from a Diamonback Rattlesnake with small teeth

By alternating the two actions, keeping a grip and pulling, swallowing large animals is possible; having elastic skin is a prerequisite.

Topic: Krait
Topic: Copperhead
Topic: Cottonmouth
Topic: Cobra snake
Topic: Puff adder
Topic: Russel's viper

Surviving a Bite

The biggest concern from snake bites, including the non-venomous ones, is infections at the site of the bite. That is also the case with any pets that might have been bitten without you knowing it. You just observe that one of its limbs seem sore. If you take a pet to the veterinarian because of a bite, they will probably only treat it with antibiotics and painkillers. There are only a few venomous snakes that will actually be able to kill an animal as large as a dog: such as the timber rattlesnakes or the diamondback rattlesnakes; not copperhead snakes.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Growling Cobra Snake

As the camera crew repeatedly annoys the cobra, the cobra begins to growl. The cobra was found in a paddy field in India. The cobra snake is large, and the camera men are taking an enormous risk trying to relocate it. The main risk is when they put into the bag. The cobra must be released without giving it the chance to bite.



Snake Fangs

The different species of snakes have their fangs curving in three dissimilar but typical patterns. Ducts inside the fangs connect the fangs to the venom glands, the red areas on the photos, where the production of venom takes place.

The number of snakebites in India and Pakistan are astonishing
Skull from a typical Elapid snake

Skull from an elapid snake.
E.g.,cobra and sea snake

Skull from a typical Elapid snake

Skull from a viperid snake.
These are pit-vipers.

Skull from a typical Rear-fanged snake

Skull from a rear-fanged snake.
Often not very venomous.

Lightning Kills More People Than Venomous Snakes

Injuries caused by venomous snakes are rare. When compared to the number of people killed by lightning, which in 1959-1994 was 0.42 people per million (Curran et al., 1994)4, snake envenomations suddenly seem insignificant.

Australia's Venomous Snakes

Sutherland (1992)5 studied Australian snake bite fatalities over a ten-year period. Only 18 snake bites had a deadly outcome in that period. The author acknowledged that all fatalities may not be included in the available set of data.

Africa's Venomous Snakes

Puff adders, as one reader noted, are the snakes responsible for most fatalities in Africa. Add the cape cobra to that list too. This site also describes the boomslang (a very Afrikaans word), the gaboon viper, and the black mamba.

South and Central America and Their Venomous Snakes

In South and Central America, bites from venomous snakes are more common than in the U.S. In Costa Rica, the annual number of hospital admissions due to snake envenomations is 22.4 per 100,000 inhabitants (Rojas et al., 1997)6.

Snakes’Teeth

Swallowing animals would be difficult without teeth. Snakes’ teeth are curved, and they help to pull the animal farther into the mouth. The image shows a jaw from a diamondback rattlesnake, and it is taken from an exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History. Larger snakes have longer teeth as they often have to penetrate feathers to kill prey their own size. The diamondback rattlesnake on the photo from the museum has rather short teeth.

Diamondback Rattlesnake

This story is a good illustration on why you have to be careful even when just taking a photo of a venomous snake. This guy took photo of a diamondback rattlesnake and tries to pin its head with a stick that is too short. It lashes out and bites him. To begin with, the pain is nothing, but soon the venom is about to paralyze him. Twenty minutes later he is barely able to get out of his kayak. He manages to get into his car, and eventually he reaches a hospital where he gets 26 doses of antivenom.

Snake Pictures

The most dangerous snakes in the world are from Australia
A cobra snake can kill a man in 10 minutes
Most venomous bites in the US are from copperhead snakes
Most bites from copperhead snakes are not treated with antivenom
Snake dens are filled with snakes from many snake species
India and Pakistan are the two countries where most snake bites occur
The spitting cobras toxic saliva can cause permanent blindness in its victims
Each year, 5-6 americans die from venomous snake bites

Snakes in Ecosystems

Snakes serve an important role as predators in ecosystems, and healthy ecosystems are often abundant in a variety of predators, such as snakes, that maintain populations of rodents and other animals at acceptable levels. Just think of farmers and the problems they have with rodents. Snakes are actually responsible for keeping crop yields high and for preventing the spreading of diseases.

News

December 25, 2012: Holding 13 rattlesnakes in his mouth without a single bite

Jackie Bibby beat his old world record by holding 13 rattlesnakes in his mouth at the same time without being bitten. Mr. Bibby already has the world record in sleeping with most rattlesnakes at the same time in a sleeping back (109) and being in a bathtub with most rattlesnakes at the same time (195). Congratulations.

October 28, 2012: Sharp increase in snake bite fatalities in India

In the Thrane district of India (West Bengal) a sharp increase in fatalities from snake bites has been reported. However, the true number of deaths is much larger than official numbers imply as many people are not even registered as snake bite victims. Also, many people don't even make it to the hospital before they die.

September 15, 2012: Asexual reproduction in copperheads and cottonmouths

Recently, a group of scientists from North Carolina (NCSU) found that female copperheads and cottonmouth snakes are capable of reproducing asexually. That is, no male is needed for fertilizing an egg. From a litter of copperhead they found one parthenogenic snake from a litter of 22 copperheads. From a litter of 37 cottonmouth snakes they also found that one was parthenogenic. Although parthenogenesis has been seen before in snakes held in captivity, the finding is important to our understanding of vertebrate evolution. Read more about the study at www.venomoussnakes.net

References

1 Gold, BS et al. ("Bites of Venomous Snakes". New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 347, No. 5 pp. 347-356 (2002)
2 Litovitz TL et al. ("Annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Exposure Surveillance System" Am J. Emerg Medicine 15, pp. 447-501 (1997)
3 Alirol et al."Snake Bite in South Asia: A Review", PLOS NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES, Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-7 (2010)
4 Curran EB. et al. "Lightning injuries and Damage Reports in the United States from 1959-1994" (1997), NOAA Technical Memo-randum
5 Sutherland SK "Fatalities from Snake Bite in Australia, 1981-1991", MED. JOURNAL OF AUSTRALIA 157 Vol. 11-12. pp. 740-746 (1992)
6 Rojas G et al. "Snakebite mortality in Costa Rica", Toxicon, Vol. 35 pp. 1639-43 (1997)

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