During a trip to Costa Rica, Michael Lovatt began to experience excruciating pain. His eyes and gums began to bleed and his kidneys started to fail. He hadn’t noticed that one of the world’s deadliest snakes had bitten him, and he was on the brink of death.
but what snake was it that bit Lovatt? Hold on, my friend. Not all snake venom is the same. Some have the ability to destroy your circulatory system, making you bleed from every pore in your body. Others attack your brain, kill your tissues and shut down your organs. What they do have in common is they can cause a painful death. That’s why we prepared a second batch of these terrible cold-blooded killers. What snake can make your eyes bleed? Are only snakes with front fangs venomous? What land snake can kill you while you’re swimming?
Number 5: Forest cobra
This extremely skilled snake lives in West and Central Africa. It’s able to swim, kill fish and climb trees to hunt rodents and lizards. It’s infamous for slithering silently, so it’s easy to unknowingly cross its path. Like other cobras, they have a potent neurotoxic venom that can cause drowsiness, disorientation, shock and death in just 30 minutes. Because of their diet, they are often close to water. Use extreme caution when walking near rivers and lakes. If you hear hissing or see one widening its hood, back away slowly and leave them alone.
Number 4: Boomslang
Don’t be fooled by its beautiful green color and slender body. This killer could be the end of you before you even realize you’ve been bitten. They live in the savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa. Since they camouflage themselves in trees to hunt chameleons and birds, it’s easy for you to miss them on a hike. They are among the few deadly snakes that don’t have front fangs but inject their venom through fangs in the back of their mouth. The Boomslang’s hemotoxic venom is considered the most potent in Africa. It will destroy your red blood cells, preventing clotting while killing your organs and making you bleed from every orifice in your body. If you have an encounter that results in a bite, seek medical attention immediately. The bleeding is on the way.
Number 3: Coastal taipan
This 2 m (7 ft) assassin has no fear of humans and is considered the most dangerous snake on Australia’s east coast. And you know, almost anything can kill you Down Under. Their venom acts immediately, causing paralysis, convulsions, internal bleeding, kidney damage and muscle tissue degradation. Unfortunately, your only chance of survival is to get the antivenom right away. Never venture into coastal taipan territory without a bottle of it in your pocket.
Number 2: Eastern brown snake
Allow me to introduce you to the second most venomous snake in the world. And guess what, it also lives in Australia. Sorry, mate. Since there are several species of brown snakes, the eastern brown can easily be confused with its less dangerous cousins. The best way to survive is to know how to identify them. Its mouth has a pinkish appearance, and its back will have a spotted pattern on top. Play it safe. Just avoid any brown snake, Australian or not.
Number 1: Fer-de-lance
Remember our friend Michael? During a walk in Costa Rica, the Canadian man was bitten by a fer-de-lance, considered the most dangerous snake in Central America. Its name literally means spearhead in French, but it can cause even more damage. No reptile in the Americas kills more people than this 2 m (7 ft) snake. It bites quickly, so Michael thought it was an ant and paid no attention to it. But a few hours later, his gums and eyes started to bleed. His kidneys began to fail, leaving him in agony. Since he couldn’t speak Spanish he was unable to tell medical professionals exactly what was wrong, so he flew back to Canada. There, doctors were able to identify that it was a fer-de-lance bite from the symptoms but couldn’t believe the 61-year-old survived the trip back home. Respect your surroundings and never walk barefoot on Central American beaches at night. If you feel a sharp sting, don’t ignore it. Find help as soon as you can.
- B.C. man survives Costa Rican snake bite (2022). CBC News.
- ‘That’s not a tree snake’: Woman bitten by deadly eastern brown snake while trying to save her Jack Russell dog. Bolton, M. (2022). ABC News.
- WATCH: Why the Coastal Taipan is such a deadly snake. Sunshine Coast Daily (2016). The Courier Mail.
- How to: Treat a Snakebite. Tilton, B. (2009). Backpacker.
- Fatal Boomslang bite in the Northern Cape. Kruger, H. J. and Lemke, F. G. (2019). National Library of Medicine.