Many people consider venomous snakes to be poisonous, but venom and poison are not the same things. Poisons are toxins that need to be ingested, absorbed, or inhaled. It’s a bit unusual, but there are snakes out there that are actually poisonous.
Just to clarify, the venom toxicity of a snake is what makes it poisonous when ingested or absorbed into the body, rather than it being injected via the fangs.
Since snakes store their venom in glands around the head or neck, eating the head of a highly venomous snake will poison you. There are also snakes who secrete the venomous poison of other animals, making them poisonous.
Poisonous snakes rely on venom being present to take their prey down, but not all snake venom is alike, making certain types of snake significantly more poisonous.
It is believed that 25% of the snake species are considered to be poisonous and this ranges across individual species found in each family of snakes. Let’s take a look at the snakes which are considered to be the most poisonous.
The Jararacussu is found in the viper family and is native to Paraguay, Eastern Brazil, South-eastern Bolivia, and North-eastern Argentina.
Like many other snakes, the Jararacussu has an underbelly that is lighter in color than the rest of its body. It feeds off of small rodents it finds in its habitat, which is land that is near rivers and lakes.
The reason this snakes’ venom is considered to be poisonous is down to its ability to inject close to 800mg of its venom in just one bite, enough venom to kill close to 35 people.
This snake is part of the Elapidae family, a large group of snakes that are categorized as poisonous. This group includes snakes like the Egyptian cobra.
Tiger snakes are native to Australia’s temperate and subtropical areas. Their bodies have orange, yellow, orange-brown, and black coloring with darker bands and a lighter colored underbelly.
The venom of the Tiger snake is highly poisonous to humans and it can inject up to 180mg in just a single bite, and it can be highly dangerous if ingested or absorbed through the skin.
The common krait is part of the Elapidae family of snakes and is known as one of India’s 4 most poisonous. It is native to Sri Lanka and South India and can inhabit a large variety of locations, such as jungles, fields, rat holes, termite mounds, and people’s homes.
The krait has a dark blue/black or pale blue/grey coloring and white crossbands. They are highly nocturnal and tend to feed on other snakes, frogs, lizards, and small mammals.
The Krait is considered poisonous due to the amount of venom it can inject and the toxicity, which gives it a high mortality rate and makes it highly poisonous should it be ingested.
Also, a member of the Elapidae family, the Philippine cobra is a snake that spits venom. Young cobras have a dark coloring and this turns into a mid-brown coloring once they are fully grown.
They are native to several of the Philippine islands, which includes Eastern Samar, Masbate, Samar, Luzon, Southern Leyte, Catanduanes, and Mindoro. They tend to habitat in human settlements, open fields, and dense jungles.
It is the sheer potency of this snakes’ venom that makes it highly poisonous and is very fast acting, killing a human within minutes of coming into contact with this toxic poison. This cobra can spit its venom up to 10 feet.
Also, part of the Elapidae family, the king cobra is native throughout East, South, and South-eastern Asia. Its habitats areas that are close to bodies of water and dense forests.
Because it can grow up to 18 feet, can weigh up to 13 pounds, and has the agility to launch itself at its victims, it considered the most dangerous snake in Asiatic territories.
Its coloring can be black, olive-green, or tan with bands of light yellow, a hood on its head that can expand, and two occipital scales on its head. It feeds on other venomous snakes, such as cobras, pythons, and kraits.
It can secrete venom from its victims and its own venom is highly toxic with a high mortality rate, making it a very poisonous snake.
Chain (Russell’s) Viper
This species of viper is native to Asia, Southern China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. It prefers to live in open areas and is known as one of the 4 most poisonous snakes to be found in India, causing the most deaths worldwide.
It has a flat raised nose with a triangular shaped head and its colorings tend to be brown, tan, or dark yellow, with spots of deep brown.
The chain viper is considered poisonous due to the sheer amount of venom it can inject in just one bite, with a toxicity level of 268mg. It only takes 40 to 70 mg of this poison to kill an adult human.
The keelback, also known as a freshwater snake is native to coastal areas of Northern Australia. Its coloring is an olive brown with dark irregular crossbands.
The keeled scales along its body give it a ridged look. Its habitat is areas that have a lot of water, such as swamps, and creeks. But they can also be found in parks, pastures, and suburban gardens.
This is a non-venomous snake, meaning it doesn’t create its own venom. However, they have glands that can secrete a poison that they have ingested and like to eat poisonous toads. So, this makes eating or handling the keelback dangerous.
Garter snakes are native to North America and their coloring is varied depending on what species they are. They all share the same 3 stripes of color down their bodies though.
They tend to live near water and eat snails, tadpoles, leeches, and small rodents. They were long believed to be non-venomous snakes; however, they do produce venom that is mild.
So, what makes this snake poisonous? Some garter snakes can be poisonous due to the fact that they eat poisonous newts. They can store this poison in the liver for weeks, which makes them poisonous should they be ingested.
In summary, what labels a snake as poisonous is the potency of its venom. Milder venoms may not do much harm if ingested, but these particular venoms will.