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


Drawings are ©

Puff Adders: Africa's Deadliest Snake

By Anders Nielsen, Ph.d.

Puff adders are the snakes responsible for most snake bite deaths in Africa.

As antivenom is not as accessible in Africa as in America and Asia, and a lot of people live far away from hospitals in Africa, the number of fatalities from puff adders can be greatly reduced if and when the infrastructure is improved in parts of Africa.

A coiled Puff adder

Links: Gaboon

Coral snake


Despite all of this, fatalities from the puff adder are relatively rare, and definitely less than approximately 5% of all bites, as most surveys indicate that the overall death rate of snake bites in Africa is well below 2%. Amputations and other surgeries are common to mitigate the effect of bites though.

The puff adder is not the most difficult snake to identify, as it is very large and heavy bodied.

Several studies indicate that people hospitalized due to a venomous snake bite knew when it was a puff adder. In the United States, puff adder bites only occur from puff adders held in captivity by reptile enthusiasts and zoo employees.

Links: Krait



In a South African study (Blaylock, 2003) the consequences of a number of snake bites were reported. Among the venomous snake bites, five bites were proven puff adder bites.

One patient of the five bitten by the puff adder died. The patient, an 11-year–old boy, did not receive antivenom, as it was not considered appropriate in his particular case.

The boy had abnormally high blood pressure at the time of admission to the hospital and died four days after the bite despite several blood transfusions.

Striking With Lightning Speed

The puff adder is a large and strong snake, but despite its size, it is capable of striking with lightning speed. A study by Bruce A. Young from 2009 showed that the puff adder is much faster than smaller snakes.

Links: Cobra

Puff adder

Russel's viper

The puff adder is a typical ambusher.

It sits and waits until a prey animal is close enough and then strikes. Like all other snakes, the puff adder cannot hear, but its jaw can feel vibrations, and it's Jacobsen’s organ can analyze inputs from its tongue. When a prey gets too close, the puff adder has to be fast. When it bites, it releases the prey immediately and lets the prey escape. This way it won't get hurt itself. It then tracks the prey down that is gradually weakened because of the venom.

In fact, the aforementioned study indicates that the puff adder is approximately twice as fast as the diamondback rattlesnake, another large venomous snake;although not living in the same places as puff adders.


Blaylock, R. "Epidemiology of snakebite in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa" Toxicon 43 pp. 159-166 (2004) YOUNG, B. A. "How a heavy-bodied snake strikes quickly: high-power axial musculature in the puff adder (Bitis arietans)" J Exp Zool A Ecol Genet Physiol. 313(2) pp. 114-121 (2010).

Privacy Policy

Read about the privacy policy of this website

Copyright © All rights reserved.