10 Most Venomous Snakes in Africa
The Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is Africa's largest venomous snake, reaching an average 2.5 m in length (8 feet) but can get as long as 4.5 m (14 feet).
It's extremely aggressive, and will not hesitate to strike, very fast and agile, it can reach speeds of up to 12mph (20 km/h). In spite of the name the "black" mamba skin color is not black, it's rather brownish/olive or brown/grey, the name derives from its black mouth, displayed when it feels threatened.
Its venom is an extremely potent neuro and cardio-toxic mix, capable of killing a dozen men within the hour, without proper treatment and anti-venom, the mortality rate is almost 100%. It feeds on moles, rats, mice, birds, squirrels and other small mammals.
Mozambique Spitting Cobra
The Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica) is probably the most common cobra found in tropical and subtropical Africa. It is considered one of the most dangerous African venomous snakes, overshadowed only by the black mamba.
As the name indicates, the Mozambique Spitting Cobra can "spit" it's venom. However "spraying" is probably a more accurate definition. The snake can spit/spray it's neurotoxic venom with great accuracy at distances up to 3 m long.
Their bite can cause severe tissue damage, if the venom hits the eyes it will cause impaired vision or even blindness. When molested, this snake can also elevate as much as two-thirds of its body. This snake species does not necessarily bite it may even simulate death to avoid further molestation.
The Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) is responsible for more human fatalities than any other snake species in Africa. The species accounts for some 60% of all snakebites in the continent.
It's the most common and widespread snake species on the African continent and inhabits the majority of regions, except for desertic regions and rainforests.
Since the species relies on camouflage to hide and will lie still when approached, people tend to step on them and get bitten. They have very long fangs, 12 to 18 mm long, and an average body length of around 40 inches (1 m).
The Puff Adder moves in a similar fashion to the way caterpillars move. They are good swimmers and climbers. When disturbed the species hisses loudly forming a tight coil and then strikes sideways. In a single bite it can inject between 100 and 350 mg of cytotoxic venom, the lethal dose for a human is around 100 mg.
The Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica) blends perfectly in the leaf cover and surrounding vegetation making it the ultimate ambush predator. It ambushes its prey, large birds, and some mammals, by standing still and attacking by surprise.
They are very heavy-bodied snakes that can weigh up to 10 kg and can grow to over 2 m in length. With a large triangular shaped head, the species develops two nostril horns with age. It possesses the longest fangs of any snake in the world, up to 2 inches (record at 50 mm).
Despite what its common name would suggest, Egypt is not the only habitat for the Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje). The species is commonly found in Egypt, but in fact is the most widespread of the African cobras.
Their average size is between 1.5 to 2 m, though some specimens can exceed 2.5 m (8 feet) in length.
The Egyptian Cobra venom is considered the 3rd most toxic venom of any cobra species, just after the Northern Philippine Cobra and Cape Cobra. In fact, its venom is so potent it can kill an adult elephant in just under 3 hours, and a human in 15 minutes.
As the legend goes Cleopatra is believed to have committed suicide using an Egyptian Cobra.
Found north of the African Equator, the Saw-Scaled Vipers (Echis carinatus) are small yet viciously aggressive and easily excitable temperament snakes.
The average adult vipers reach a length of around 20 to 30 inches. There are 5 subspecies currently recognized. It's the smallest member of the Big Four Indian snakes which are responsible for the most snakebites and deaths in India.
The species gets its name from the "sizzling" sound it makes as it rubs its scales, and serves as a warning. The snake's venom is haemotoxic and very potent, according to some researchers, the venom is 5 times more toxic than that of the indian cobra, and 16 times more toxic than the Russell's Viper.
The Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) is found in sub-Saharan Africa and is considered the most venomous rear-fanged snake in the world.
The name "Boomslang" comes from the Afrikaans word "tree snake", it's a "tree-dwelling" snake species. Much like the Gaboon Viper, the Boomslang fangs are very long, and it can open its mouth at a full 180 degrees to bite.
While fatalities caused by the species are rare since it is very timid, this snake venom is haemotoxic and results in internal and external bleeding. The sexual dimorphism is particularly apparent in the Boomslang as females are brown, whereas males are light green with some black highlights.
The Cape Cobra (Naja nivea) highly neurotoxic venom is thought to be the most potent of all African cobras. It's sometimes also called the yellow cobra.
These are beautiful snakes that vary both in color ranging from yellow to copper/mahogany colored and purplish/black and size with an average of 4 feet but can grow to 6 feet.
The mortality rate in humans is more or less around 60% if not treated immediately. Death usually occurs between 2 and 5 hours after the bite and is commonly the result of respiratory failure due to paralysis.
The Green Mamba venom composition is similar to that of its cousin the infamous black mamba. But it's only about one-tenth as toxic. The species as the name implies differs in colour with a glossy grass-green and an average size about 15.9 feet (1.8m).
It is also very shy and much less aggressive than the black mamba, and tends to be more arboreal instead of mainly terrestrial. There are two species of green mamba, the Western Green Mamba (Dendroaspis viridis) which is native to West Africa, and the Eastern Green Mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps) found on the eastern side of southern Africa.
The Bush Viper (Atheris squamigera), is sometimes also called the Leaf Viper or green bush viper, is an arboreal snake that dwells the rain-forests and woodlands habitats of Africa in Congo Basin, Uganda, Kenya.
Is highly venomous but relatively passive even so it will defend itself when molested. Its habits are primarily nocturnal and often comes to the ground to feed on small rodents, frogs, and lizards.
Using its tail to hang from the lower branches of trees and strikes on its unsuspecting prey. Their color is usually green but will adapt to its environment for survival so specimens that are olive brown or rusty brown color are common.
Did You Know?
A recently discovered fossil snake was 49 feet long, longer than a school bus! Meet the Titanoboa.