Image: Jinto Paul T
Given the way they slither along the ground – silent predators seeking out their prey – snakes are creepy enough under the best of circumstances. Their unblinking stare sets many people’s nerves jangling, and that’s without even considering how dangerous they can be. While some snakes may be harmless, here we take a look at the snakes we really do have reason to be frightened of due to their highly toxic venom.
Image: Günter Leitenbauer
There are numerous lists on this subject by different experts who have different ways of measuring the toxicity of snake venom, and who therefore offer differing results. The most common, and probably easiest, way to measure quantities of venom is using the median lethal dose, or LD50 – the amount of venom it takes to kill half the mice tested on in a lab. The lower the number, the more venomous the snake! However, depending on the type of bite inflicted – for example, subcutaneous or intravenous – different results are produced. To complicate matters further, even among those lists of the most venomous snakes that seem to measure in the same way, there is little consistency. We’re basing this article on a list compiled by Ernst and Zug (1996). Enjoy!
Image: Jamie Osburn
12. Puff Adder
The puff adder isn’t the most venomous snake in Africa but it is considered to be the snake that causes the most human deaths there. This is due to the venomous viper’s common occurrence in heavily populated areas and its habit of sunbathing on or near footpaths. Then of course there’s its highly toxic venom, which has an LD50 of 0.14 and is delivered in large doses through long fangs.