There are more than 3,000 species of snakes on earth today and they are found everywhere. And yet of those only around 600 species are venomous and only around 200 (or 7%) have the ability to kill or significantly wound a human - the vast majority are completely harmless. Australia is famously home to many of the most venomous snakes on earth - but is it worthy of that reputation?
The only significant landmasses that they are absent from are Antarctica, Iceland, Ireland, Greenland, and New Zealand (no New Zealand and Australia are not "close" or "similar" countries - they are completely different countries!).
Humanity's Dislike Of Snakes
Snakes and humans have long since not gotten along. So much so that that according to the snake detection theory (or snake detection hypothesis) snakes have contributed to the evolution of primates' (including humans) visual system so that our ancestors could better detect and avoid the lethal serpents.
Ophidiophobia (phobia of snakes) is one of the most common and intense phobias in the general population. For sure there are many readers of this article shuddering and reading out of a mixture of fear and fascination. It seems that the fear of snakes is baked into our DNA and to be scared of them is "only natural".
To make the ophidiophobics reading this feel better (sic), five species of snake can sort of "fly".
About The Serpents
Around 70 species of snake living in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These are some of the most venomous snakes on the planet, but they are of little danger to humans as they are shy, gentle, and their fangs are too short to do much damage to humans.
But a snake doesn't have to be venomous to be dangerous - large pythons are able to constrict and swallow a human whole, but this is rare.
- Taste: One of The Main Ways Snakes Sense Their Environments Is By Tasting The Air With Their Forked Tongues
- Pit Holes: Can Sense The Heat Given off By Warm-Blooded Prey
The common venomous snakes include the families of Elapidae, Viperidae, Atractaspididea, as well as some Colubridae.
Snakebites And Deaths
Snakes do not prey on humans (except for large constrictors on occasion). Documented deaths from snake bites are actually surprisingly uncommon. There are as many as 250,000 recorded snakebites in India every year with around 50,000 dying from them every year. The WHO estimates around 100,000 people die of snake bites every year with many more permanent disabilities.
- India Snake Fatalities: ≈ 50,000
- Australia Snake Fatalities: ≈ 1 (4 - 6 By Other Sources)
- Snake Venom: Is Actually Modified Saliva
But despite Australia's fearsome reputation for venomous snakes, it only averages around one death a year from snake bites. Both deaths and bites are very very rare in the land down under.
In fact in Australia, it is normally not the snake's fault someone got bitten. It's normally people being stupid and handling or scaring the snake. Most people get bitten trying to kill the serpent or to just show off (if a guy is trying to chop it up with a shovel, it will fight back).
The Snakes Of Australia
When one considers Australia's reputation for snakes and that there are some 3,000ish snake species in the world, it may also come as a surprise to know that there are only around 140 species of land snakes in Australia.
However, it is also true that Australia's snakes are venomous - around 100 of them or 70% are venomous (of which only 12 are likely to inflict a wound that could kill a human). But...... these are some of the most venomous snakes in the world. So these are some of the snakes one should be ready for when traveling.
The most dangerous snakes in Australia include the tiger snake, brown snake, death adder, mulga or king brown snake, and taipan. Remember the most venomous snake may not be the most dangerous. Other factors are how aggressive they are, how long their fangs are, where they live, how much venom they inject, and other factors.
Common Brown Snake:
- Found: Throughout The Eastern Half of Australia
- Attributes: Fast-Moving Aggressive, and Known For its Bad Temper
- Deaths: Responsible for More Deaths Every Year In Australia than Other Snakes
- Venom: Ranked Second Most Toxic And Thrive In Populated Areas Looking for Mice
Western Brown Snake:
- Found: Widespread Over Most Over Mainland Australia
- Attributes: Said To Be Less Aggressive Than the Common Brown
- Vemon: Less Toxic but Deliver 3x as Much
- Found: South-Eastern Coast of Australia
- Deaths: Responsible for the Second-Highest Number of Bites In Australia
- Inhabits: Highly Populated Areas (for Mice)
- Venom: Fatal if Untreated
- Found: In Cracks and Crevices In Remote Australia
- Vemon: Most Toxic In the World - Takes Down An Adult Human in 45 Minutes
- Injects: 40,000x More Vemon Than Needed to Kill its Prey Quickly
- Note: Only a Handful Of People Have Been Bitten and No one is Known to have Died
- Found: On the East Coast and Loves Sugarcane Fields
- Attributes: A Very Nervous Snake
- Longest: They Have The Longest Fangs In Australia (13 mm)
- Venom: Third Most Toxic (Death Can Occur In just 30 Minutes)