Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ: Venom
open triangle Which snake is the world's deadliest?

That depends on what you mean by "deadliest".

Snake with the most toxic venom (when tested on mice)
Inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus).

Snake that causes the most deaths in Australia
Eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis).

Snake that causes the most deaths in the world
Probably the saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus) or the Russell's viper (Daboia russelii).

List of snake venom toxicities
Here is a list of some snake species, ranked by venom toxicity (tested in mice). All snakes are Australian, except the four labelled otherwise.
Tiger snake taxonomy is currently the subject of debate. The scientific names used here are taken from the original research article.
Toxicity is measured as an LD50. The LD50 test is a way of determining the relative toxicity of a venom. Increasing doses of venom are administered to a group of test subjects (normally laboratory mice). The dose at which half of the test subjects die is the LD50 for that venom and route of administration (normally sub-cutaneous). Below is a table of LD50 results for various snake venoms tested on mice. It should be noted that other snakes have since been tested, but are not included here. This table is only here to provide a relative measure of the toxicity of venom. This table is based on data from the following publication:

Broad, A. J., S. K. Sutherland and A. R. Coulter. (1979) The lethality in mice of dangerous Australian and other snake venom. Toxicon 17:661-664.

According to the list, the inland taipan has the most toxic venom of any snake tested. The eastern brown and the coastal taipan come in at numbers two and three respectively. These figures have come from LD50 tests that used rodents, the very prey item these three snakes specialise in eating. As such, it should be remembered that these test results provide only a relative measure of a snake's toxicity to mice.

Note: this is not a list of the top 25 most toxic snakes. Not every snake in the world has been tested. This list is just comparing the venom toxicities of these 25 snakes.

Rank Common name Scientific name LD50 (mg/kg)
1 Inland taipan Oxyuranus microlepidotus 0.025
2 Eastern brown snake Pseudonaja textilis 0.053
3 Coastal taipan Oxyuranus scutellatus 0.099
4 Eastern mainland tiger snake Notechis scutatus scutatus 0.118
5 Reevesby Island tiger snake Notechis ater niger 0.131
6 Beaked sea snake Enhydrina schistosa 0.164
7 Western tiger snake Notechis scutatus occidentalis 0.194
8 Black mamba (African) Dendroaspis polylepis 0.32
9 Chappell Island tiger snake Notechis ater serventyi 0.338
10 Common death adder Acanthophis antarcticus 0.4
11 Gwardar Pseudonaja nuchalis 0.473
12 Copperhead Austrelaps superbus 0.56
13 Indian cobra (Asia) Naja naja 0.565
14 Dugite Pseudonaja affinis affinis 0.66
15 Papuan black snake Pseudechis papuanus 1.09
16 Stephens' banded snake Hoplocephalus stephensii 1.36
17 Rough-scaled snake Tropidechis carinatus 1.36
18 King cobra (Asia) Ophiophagus hannah 1.8
19 Spotted black snake Pseudechis guttatus 2.13
20 Collett's snake Pseudechis colletti 2.38
21 Mulga snake Pseudechis australis 2.38
22 Red-bellied black snake Pseudechis porphyriacus 2.52
23 Eastern small-eyed snake Cryptophis nigrescens 2.67
24 Eastern diamond-backed rattlesnake (America) Crotalus adamanteus 11.4
25 Olive whipsnake Demansia olivacea 714.2
closed triangle Are any lizards venomous?

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