East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Guest Post – The World’s Most Lethal Snakes (2)

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Here’s the second part of Ferruccio Gianola‘s top ten article about killer snakes.

The first part was marred by my horrid translation mistake – using poison/poisonous for the italian veleno/velenoso, instead of the correct expression, venom/venomous.
My apologies.
The mistakes have been corrected, and I thank again the surfers for their prompt correction, and their patience.

My apologies also to Ferruccio – who was not responsible for my mistake.

And now, the second part.


5 – Bitis arietans

The Puff Adder – Viperid of the viperinid subfamily – is te responsible of the highest number of deaths by snakebite in Africa. Normally about one meter long, can reach the 190 cms in extreme cases, and weight up to seven kgs. Its venom is chiefly cytotoxic causing hemorrage, bleeding and swelling, often associated with nausea and weakness. Kills every year a few thousand people.
4 – Naja naja

The Indian Cobra – elapid of the bungarinid subfamily – is the least dangerous of the so called “big four” infesting India. The average legth is one meter and a half. Its venom’s effects are both neurotoxic and cardiotoxic, causing a paralisys similar to the one caused by curare, together with a strong fall in blood pressure. Sometimes can show emotoxic effects.
3 – Bungarus caeruleus

Krait or common bungarus – elapid of the bungarinid subfamily – is teorethically the most venomous snake in Asia, as its bite is painless and once one realizes he’s been poisoned it’s usually too late to intervene. Another trait is the behavior of the reptile, which is docile in the day, but terribly aggressive and bite-ready by night. The indian krait venom consists chiefly of potent neurotixines, inducing muscular paralisys. It is about 120 cms long.
In Asia the saying goes “Krait never bites, but if it does, you’re dead.”

2 – Daboia russelii

Russell’s Viper – Viperid of the viperinid subfamily – the most dangerous snake in India and the major responsible for deaths in the subcontinent. This is a large viper, 120 cms in length, rather lazy but because of this particularly dangerous, as it’s liable to react if touched. The venom has both hemotoxic and cytotoxic effects. It causes acute pain immediately in the area of the bite, followed in about 20 minutes by bleeding of the mouth and gums. In serious cases, the bite can cause systemic hemorrhages, trombosys, renal, cardiac or breathing failure. death can come in 1 to 14 days or more.

1 – Echis carinatus

Saw-Scaled Viper – Viperid of the viperinid subfamily – is the snake causing more deaths in the world. In India it competes with Russel’s Viper for the title, but this small (rarely longer than 60 cms) aggressive snake is also widespread inother areas of Asia. Its bite is not very painful, and is often overlooked by the victim, that does not realize she’s been bitten, but in case of intoxication, effects are almost immediate. The wound starts swelling in a few minutes, and withthe swelling comes the pain. A pain that has been described as impossible to resist. An unlucky victim might die in a few minutes due to anaphilaptic shock; otherwise, without treatment, death comes in 2 or 3 days for the 20% of the victims. Epistaxys, hemathemesys, reptumragy, blood in urines and offall might also cause death by hypovolemic shock in a few days.

Scary, eh?

And now a few links to learn a little more…


Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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