The Most Venomous Snake in the World

Inland Taipan

There are over 3,000 species of snakes, and only 375 of those are venomous. Out of those 375, I wanted to know which one was the most venomous, so I did some research and found out all about the snake with the deadliest poison. 

So, which snake is the most venomous snake in the world? The Inland Taipan is the most venomous snake of all the species. It carries a blend of several different toxins that leaves the victim paralyzed and dying. There is an 80% mortality rate in humans if they are left untreated. 

Throughout the rest of the article, I will delve into more information about the Inland Taipan, snake venom, and other venomous snakes you might come across, as well as plenty of venomous snakes you will likely never come across.

About the Inland Taipan

The Inland Taipan, also known as the Western Taipan or Fierce Snake, is a dark tan snake that roams central east Australia. It enjoys the semi-arid climate and preys on warm-blooded animals.

However, the location where the Inland Taipan is typically found is rather secluded from humans, so it doesn’t come in contact with many. Some people don’t consider the Inland Taipan to be the most deadly snake for this reason, although this snake still has the deadliest venom even if it never bites a human.

History

The recorded history of the Inland Taipan dates back to 1879 when it was first described by Fredrick McCoy. McCoy was an Irish palentologist and zoologist who also worked as a professor at the University of Melbourne. McCoy described 16 species of animals in Prodromus of Paleontology. To learn more about Fredrick McCoy and the other species he documented, you can visit this link.

However, even with McCoy and a few other scholars’ notes on the species, it remained an elusive mystery snake to the scientific community until 1972 when more information on the deadly snake was gathered.

The Inland Taipan is endangered, and in some places is even presumed extinct.

All over Australia, the snake is protected by law. Several zoos, especially those located in Australia, house the snake for public display.

Appearance

One of the first things to know about a snake is what it looks like so you can identify it. The Inland Taipan is typically dark tan in color but can range from pale tan to reddish or even dark gray. Their bellies are usually yellow, but again, can range lighter or darker, depending on the snake. The pattern of the Inland Taipan is a kind of herringbone pattern across the back.

Another thing to note with their color that is actually pretty cool is that they change colors with the seasons. It isn’t anything drastic like turning green, but they do get darker in winter and lighter in summer. Pay attention to this because it might make it easier to mix it up with another snake. 

Inland Taipans average about 6.5 feet in length. Not only are they long, but they are also pretty thick and muscular. Though not as big as something like a reticulated python, the Inland Taipan is still a big snake and should not be underestimated. Their size doesn’t slow or hinder them at all, so be ready for a speedy serpent if you come across one of these. 

Some other identifying features that are a little harder to see unless you are close to the snake include a large rectangular head and dark eyes with round pupils. I recommend not getting close enough to one of these snakes to be able to see these features clearly, but it might come in handy for differentiating between it and another snake if needed. 

Some other snakes that are commonly confused with the Inland Taipan include: 

  • Eastern Brown Snake – These snakes have very similar coloring and eyes to the Inland Taipan. One big difference is the size. You could expect an Eastern Brown snake to be 6-12 inches shorter than the Inland Taipan. These are also venomous snakes, so I have more information on them later in the article.
  • Western Brown Snake – The coloring of these snakes is also pretty similar to the Inland Taipan, however, the color is also one of the most obvious differences. That may seem strange, but let me explain. Most of the body of the Western Brown Snake is similar to the Inland Taipan. The color difference just on the head. Western Brown Snakes have darker heads, sometimes even black colored heads. These snakes are also highly venomous.

Basically, if you run into any of these snakes, realize that they are all venomous and highly dangerous. Identification is important, but it is less important than you avoiding a venomous bite.

Personality

As well as being secluded in location, the Inland Taipan also tends to shy away from humans it does come in contact with. Their shy nature makes them flee from potential danger, unlike other species of snakes who prefer to lash out and deliver the potential threat with a wicked bite. The Inland Taipan only strikes out if it feels trapped.

You may then be wondering why it got the title “Fierce Snake.” The Inland Taipan gets that name from its venom. If a human were bitten, they would die within 30 to 45 minutes if they were unable to receive treatment. The average estimate based on the poison found in the snake is that an Indian Taipan can kill 100 human men with the poison from a single bite.

Also, the Inland Taipan is a quick snake. It is able to strike fast, leaving it a chance to strike multiple times. If one bite is fatal, can you imagine how deadly a few bites can be? The snake is able to deliver poison even with multiple bites in a row, making it a terrifying opponent. 

Even though the Inland Taipan is a relatively shy snake, its cousin the Coastal Taipan is aggressive and dangerous as well. Though the Coastal Taipan is known to be more aggressive, it is only ranked third by most toxicology studies.

Habitat

You will usually find the Inland Taipan in dry, arid desert areas. They like places with cracked earth and lots of holes and nooks. They also appreciate rocky areas as well. In general, they live where there is little to no foliage. Their coloring matches better with the dirt than it does plants after all.

As mentioned before, these snakes are shy. They prefer hiding underground and in those deserty nooks. They are more active in the winter and early in the morning and will be seen above ground more often as a result. Otherwise, just keep an eye on those little hidey holes they like so much, and you should be able to avoid them decently.

Diet

The Inland Taipan’s diet consists of warm-blooded mammals, mostly rats and mice. When it attacks, the Inland Taipan will rapidly bite its prey multiple times. Its bites are extremely accurate and deliver poison with each blow.

On some of its prey, it has been known to strike with poison injection up to eight times. Most venomous snakes, however, simply strike their prey and move away till the prey dies.

Ironically, the Inland Taipan’s venom is ineffective to the Mulga snake, who preys on young Inland Taipan snakes. The Mulga snake, and occasionally a large monitor lizard, will prey on the Inland Taipan, especially young ones, but other than those two, the Inland Taipan doesn’t have many other threats.

Venom

Okay, so you know pretty much everything about the Inland Taipan’s life, history, and habitat, but this article is mainly about its venom. A lot of the information was complex and included a lot of toxicology jargon, but I can give you a pretty clear summary of what its venom will do. 

There are a number of components that all do different things in an Inland Taipan’s venom:

  • Neurotoxin: As the name suggests, a neurotoxin affects the nervous system causing paralysis and other negative effects, such as slurred speech. It can damage both developing and mature nervous tissue. If treated quickly, the symptoms may be temporary, but if not, the issues can be difficult and long-lasting. 
  • Myotoxin: This toxin (protein) attacks the muscles, rendering them useless and causing damage to the heart and lungs in some cases. It won’t destroy entire muscles, but it will make them necrotic within a few days if untreated. The exact function of this toxin is not known at this time, but research continues on.
  • Hemotoxin: A hemotoxin affects the blood system, clogs arteries, and increases clotting up to stop blood flow by damaging the red blood cells. It can also prevent clotting so a person can’t stop bleeding or injure the lining of arteries which can lead to circulatory collapse. 
  • Hyaluronidase: This toxin is doubly vicious because its job as a catalyst is to increase the absorption rate of the Inland Taipan’s toxins. It is made of enzymes that help speed reactions. In the case of venom, this is definitely undesirable. This is likely the reason a bite from an Inland Taipan can be so fatal so quickly.

Yep, the Inland Taipan has all of these in its venom. Outside of these four, there are a couple of other potential toxins in the venom that might affect blood vessels and the kidneys, but it hasn’t been proven yet.

On the bright side, there is an antivenom that has been created to combat the negative effects of the poison. If it is administered fast enough, the victim can make a full recovery with few repercussions. However, if the venom spreads quickly through the body, the victim can be left with permanent heart damage and other side effects.

Though there haven’t been many victims of this deadly snakes bite over the last few years, the venom has not changed. The Inland Taipan is still the most venomous snake in the world. 

World-Wide Venomous Snakes

Besides the Inland Taipan, there are several other deadly snakes: over 300! So, what are some of these snakes, and where are they located? I broke the most deadly snakes up by continent to give you an idea of where each of these deadly snakes live.

Africa:

Black Mamba: This famous snake is known to be highly aggressive. Its body can grow to be over 14 feet in length, making it a terrifying sight to behold, and if that weren’t enough, it carries a highly potent toxin that will kill its victims 100% of the time unless an antivenom is given. There is an antivenom available, but because of the Black Mamba’s rural location, many still die from its poison.

The black mamba actually has brown skin. This can be confusing, considering the name. But if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to see one open its mouth, you will see that the inside is pitch black. This is unique in the snake world as many snakes have pinkish mouths like ours. Another unique quality of this snake is that it can move faster than a person can run. To learn more about this snake, click here or here.

Puff Adder: This venomous snake is known to cause the most deaths in Africa. Though they are not very large. These Adders are often found in highly populated areas. On top of that, they are known to be pretty aggressive, though not as aggressive as the Black Mamba. 

This snake will hide for most of its life. It isn’t a fast mover like the the black mamba. Instead, it hunts through ambushing its prey as it passes. It’s an extremely patient snake too, sometimes waiting weeks or even months in one place for prey to come along so it can eat. 

Boomslang: This deadly snake’s venom attacks the victim’s blood, destroying the clotting system and causing external and internal bleeding. What makes this snake even more deadly is that the venom takes several hours to take effect, but this can also work in a victim’s favor if they seek help quickly.

Boomslangs are shy snakes, but they are one of the most feared in places like Botswana. They do like to climb trees, but mostly climb isolated ones and avoid forests. The most obvious physical identifier for a boomslang is their eyes. The eyes of the boomslang are huge compared to most snakes and seem almost disproportionate to their heads and bodies.

North America:

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake: The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is the most venomous snake in the United States. It is known for its aggressive nature and large fangs that deliver the potent venom to its victims. You can identify it by its brown colors, diamond patterns along its back, and, of course, the rattle at the end of its tail. These rattlesnakes are also medium-sized snakes, coming in around 5.5 feet on average. 

They also really don’t like people. Not in a way that makes them hunt people down, but in a way that makes them avoid human contact as much as possible. Basically, humans are to rattlesnakes as rattlesnakes are to Indiana Jones. For more about the venom and behavior of the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, read this Snake Owner article.

Copperhead Snake: Though this snake isn’t as deadly as some of its worldwide brothers and sisters, the venom from one bite of a Copperhead can cause severe swelling, vomiting, fever, hemorrhaging, and other terrible symptoms. Copperheads are pit vipers, so they can hunt prey with the help of built in heat sensors near their eyes.

These snakes are named for their reddish coloring. When young, they can have yellow tails but this fades as they age. Check out more about the copperhead snake here.

South America:

Fer-de-lance: This pit viper is commonly known as one of the most deadly snakes in the western hemisphere. It has an aggressive temperament and often lives in close proximity to humans, making bites more common. On top of being a fast-moving snake, it can also eject venom from the tips of its fangs. Fatality rates for this particular snake have also begun to decline in the last several years. 

Europe: 

Horned Viper: With a blend of toxins, this snake lashes out at its victims and leaves them with painful swelling, dizziness, and pain. However, these are just the immediate effects. Other nasty effects can work their way through a human system if the bite isn’t treated quickly. Also, this snake’s venom is highly potent to warm-blooded species (probably due to their diet being composed mostly of mice). 

Common European Viper: Bites from this species have become more common in recent years due to the human population spreading into the snake’s natural habitat. Although, this species is definitely not one of the most fatal out there. If let untreated, a bite could become deadly, but the antivenom is widely spread across Europe, making fatalities uncommon.

Asia:

King Cobra: This widely known snake can deliver a large amount of venom to its victim with a single bite. Along with all of the terrible side effects, this snake’s venom requires a large dose of anti-venom to treat the spread of venom throughout the body. A King Cobra’s venom is known to cause respiratory failure, which leads to death, in 30 minutes. For everything you need to know about King Cobras and their venom, read here and here.

Indian Cobra: This deadly snake likes to hunt around residential areas, bringing it in constant contact with humans. Also, its venom contains a blend of neurotoxins and hemotoxins, causing severe pain and tissue damage to its victim.

Saw-scaled Viper: The Saw-scaled Viper in India is responsible for the most human deaths per year. Though its venom is not as strong as some of the more deadly snakes, it is commonly found in densely populated areas. 

Australia:

Inland Taipan: As I mentioned above, this snake carries a potent concoction of toxins that can kill over 100 men with a single bite. However, you aren’t likely to come across this snake as it tends to avoid human contact.

Coastal Taipan: Similar to its inland cousin, the Coastal Taipan has a deadly blend of venom. However, it is known to be quite aggressive and lash out at anyone that comes close to it, delivering a painful blow and dose of venom.

Eastern Brown Snake: This is a highly vicious snake with a deadly venom. They live in highly populated rural areas (especially areas where the mice population is high) and attack without mercy.

Treating Snake Venom

There are a couple of basic procedures that one can do to help slow the spread of a snake’s venom after a victim is bitten. They are as follows: 

  1. Get the victim out of range of the snake. This may sound like basic advice, but making sure the victim doesn’t get bitten again is very important.
  2. Locate where the person was bitten. This is very important for the next part of instructions.
  3. Make sure to keep the wound below the heart. This will stop an increase in blood flow which will cause the venom to spread faster.
  4. Keep the victim calm while placing a clean, loose bandage over the wound. 
  5. Since the wound might swell, remove any jewelry to avoid later circulation problems.
  6. Seek medical treatment.

Seeking medical treatment is probably the most important thing on the list, though the other steps are not things to ignore. Venomous snake bites can be scary for everyone involved, especially the victim, but the whole situation is best when you have the help and care that you need. For more help on what to do when bitten by a snake, read this article.

Related Questions

What is the deadliest snake in Australia? According to Australian Geographic, the deadliest snake in Australia is the Eastern Brown Snake. It is known for its ill temper and is ranked number two on the list of most venomous snakes. Furthermore, they can be found in rural areas with large populations of mice, bringing them in frequent contact with humans.

What snake kills the most humans? The Saw-scaled Viper in India is responsible for the most human deaths per year. Though its venom is not as strong as some of the more deadly snakes, it is commonly found in densely populated areas.

What is the most venomous snake in the U.S.? The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is the most venomous snake in the United States. It is known for its aggressive nature and large fangs that deliver the potent venom to its victims. However, the Yellow-bellied sea snake is also high on the list, though it is less commonly seen near people as it lives most of its life in the water.

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