Venomous Snakes: Who is No. 1?

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Taipan Snake
The Taipan Snake: Is this No. 1? Photo: Matthijs Kuipers

Every week here at Cobras.org, we receive dozens of inquiries regarding Venomous Snakes, “Is this snake dangerous?”, “Is this snake Poisonous?”, and of course, “What is the most venomous snake of all?”

Well, first all let me clarify one important misunderstanding: There is a big difference between Poison and Venom. Poison is effective only if absorbed or ingested orally, while Venom is injected. So Snakes cannot be poisonous. However, some of them are Venomous.

The major families of Venomous Snakes are the Elapidae, the Viperidae, the Atractaspididae and the Colubridae. It may sound to you like a list of the most dangerous Mob Families, but these Snake Families’ weapons are much more sophisticated than the Mobs’. These venomous snakes use their unique teeth, the fangs, to “shoot” the venom right into their prey. After the venom cripples the prey, they either devour it whole, or disappear.

On the other side of the Snake Families, the Non-Venomous snakes usually overpower their prey using their jaws, or by coiling around it and suffocating the prey to death. It is actually believed that venom was once present in the old ancestors of all snakes, and somehow along the last thousands of years, some snakes lost their ability to produce venom and became Non-Venomous. Sadly, these are usually less “exciting” or “intriguing” to many readers, who are always fascinated by the search for the most dangerous or venomous snake out there.

So who is the most dangerous or venomous Snake? Again, it’s as if we’re talking about a grand contest between the most Professional Assassins of all Mob Families. If that was the case we would probably need to measure several factors such as: How many victims did each Assassin eliminate during his entire Mob career? What weapons did he use? How much ammunition was used? How fast and clean did he complete each “operation”? What was the average number of victims in each operation? and so forth. Well, in our case of snakes, many scientists and snake enthusiasts have performed various researches on this matter. I’d like to mention one of these organizations, namely the Australian Venom Research Unit, or AVRU – an internationally recognized interdisciplinary research unit focused on the problem of venomous injury in Australia and Asia-Pacific.

The Most Venomous Snakes

No. 2 on the List: Eastern Brown Snake. Photo by Justin Otto
No. 2 on the List: Eastern Brown Snake. Photo by Justin Otto

Taking the most significant factors into account, AVRU created a unique and more relevant list of the “World’s Most Venomous Snakes”. Their list was compiled using their International Danger Quotient Method, which is based on six critical factors: Average size of an adult snake of this species, Average venom yield in a bite, Toxicity of venom, Length of Fangs, Typical defensive disposition, and the number of deaths per year from each species.

According to AVRU’s research, the most venomous snake in the world is the Inland Taipan, followed by the Eastern Brown snake (2) and the Coastal Taipan (3). The mighty Cobra reached only the 12th place. Based on the median value of lethal dose in mice, the venom of the Inland Taipan is indisputably the most toxic and dangerous of any snake in the world. One drop can kill 100 men. However, despite this awe-inspiring fact, the Inland Taipan seldom comes in contact with human beings, so we need to take that into account as well.

You can view the entire list of AVRU’s Most Venomous Snake here.