10 Snakes with Hemotoxic Venom

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Updated: January 21, 2023
© reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points:
  • Snakes with hemotoxic venom include copperheads, boomslang, and rattlesnakes.
  • According to the World Health Organization there are between 81,410 and 137,880 deaths each year from venomous snake bites.
  • The boomslang is a hemotoxic snake that can open its mouth 170 degrees to use its back fangs to deliver a nasty bite.

There are two primary kinds of snake venom, neurotoxic and hemotoxic. Some snakes have a cocktail of venom including both, and some snakes have cytotoxic venom that affects cells. Hemotoxic refers to venom that destroys red blood cells specifically, which affects tissues and internal organs. It can lead to heart attacks, limb loss and internal bleeding. On the other hand neurotoxic venom affects the nervous system and can cause muscle paralysis and unconsciousness. Both types of venom can be deadly.

Deadliest Animals in America
Rattlesnakes are one kind of snake that has hemotoxic venom. It destroys red blood cells and can cause internal bleeding and organ failure.

©Maria Dryfhout/Shutterstock.com

How Deadly are Venomous Snakes?

While deaths from snakebites are very low in the United States, worldwide it is an enormous health issue. According to the World Health Organization there are between 81,410 and 137,880 deaths each year from venomous snake bites. Knowing what kind of snakes are hemotoxic and neurotoxic can help medical officials work quickly to administer the right antivenom when available.

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What Kind of Snakes are Hemotoxic vs Neurotoxic?

  • Hemotoxic: Vipers (copperheads, boomslangs, rattlesnakes)
  • Neurotoxic: Elapids (cobras, mambas, kraits, sea snakes, coral snakes)

What are 10 Snakes with Hemotoxic Venom?

1. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

eastern diamondback rattlesnake curled up in grass
The Eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest venomous snake in the U.S.

©iStock.com/NajaShots

The Eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest venomous snake in the U.S. The largest ones can get to be 8 feet long and weigh close to 10 pounds. Eastern diamondbacks do live in the U.S. and they are responsible for the most deaths in the country. There are only an average of 5 snakebite related deaths in the U.S. each year. The Western diamondback is another hemotoxic snake that is also responsible for deaths in the U.S.

2. Timber Rattlesnake

A Timber Rattlesnake striking prey
One of the most common venomous snakes in the U.S. is the timber rattlesnake.

©Joe McDonald/Shutterstock.com

The timber rattlesnake is the most common venomous snake in the U.S. Timber rattlers (also called canebrakes) are 3-7 feet long and a thick bodied snake. As a rattlesnake, they have a rattle at the end of their tail that they will rattle to warn a predator. They can raise their bodies up and strike quickly with their venomous fangs, injecting their victim with hemotoxic venom that takes effect immediately. Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible if you are bitten by any venomous snake.

3. Massasauga

One of the smaller rattlesnakes is the Massasauga which can be found in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

©DnDavis/Shutterstock.com

Massasauga is another type of rattlesnake that can be found in the United States, southern Canada and Mexico. They are smaller than timber and diamondback rattlesnakes and less aggressive. They prefer to remain hidden if approached by a predator and to rely on their camouflage. If they are provoked though, they will strike quickly and have a venomous bite.

3. Boomslang

boomslang slithering on branch
Male boomslangs have a brown tint to their green bodies with black or blue outlines.

©iStock.com/FroeMic

Boomslang are an arboreal snake found in sub-Saharan Africa. The males are green with sometimes black outlined scales helping them blend in with the trees. They grow to about 3-5 feet in length but are a skinnier snake, especially when compared to a boa. The females typically have a brownish or olive color which also helps them stay camouflaged in their arboreal habitat. Boomslang are not overly aggressive but if they are threatened they will strike. They have the ability to open their mouths 170° so they get eject a fair amount of venom!

4. Copperhead

Northern Copperhead (agkistrodon contortrix mokasen) on leaf litter - taken in New Jersey. Its ground color is pale brown to pinkish-brown, and it has darker, hour-glass shaped bands down its body.
The snake that is recorded to deliver the most snake bites in the U.S. is the copperhead.

©iStock.com/David Kenny

Copperheads are pit vipers that have a rusty-copper colored head, thus their name. They are a smaller snake at 2-3 feet and medium-thick. Although they deliver the most venomous bites of any snake in the U.S. they are not the deadliest because their venom is just not that strong. They live in a band across the southeastern U.S. but not as far south as Florida.

5. Sidewinder

Amazing Desert Animals: Sidewinder
If the sand seems to be moving on its own, look twice, there might be a camouflaged sidewinder in the sand. Look for the horns on their heads.

©Roger de Montfort/Shutterstock.com

These unique looking snakes are sometimes called “horned rattlesnakes” due to the two horns on the top of their head. They are called sidewinders because they move sideways through the sand in an “S” shape. These desert snakes can be found in the southwestern U. S. in states like California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. They are a smaller snake with an average length of 1 ½ – 2 ½ feet. As a rattlesnake they are one of the snakes with hemotoxic venom.

6. Bushmaster

bushmaster snake on limb
You want to steer clear of the Bushmaster, they strike fast and multiple times injecting a lot of hemotoxic venom each bite.

©iStock.com/madov

The Bushmaster is not native to the United States. It lives in Central and South America in the tropical rainforests. The biggest problem with Bushmasters is they strike multiple times and inject a lot of venom with each bite. Their fangs are some of the longest of all venomous snakes with some being not quite as long as the gaboon vipers of 2 inches. They are also a large snake that can get to be nearly 8 feet long.

7. Fer-de-lance

Most Venomous Snakes - Fer-de-lance Snake
Watch out for the aggressive fer-de-lance snake. They can be found in Mexico, Central and South America.

©Mark_Kostich/Shutterstock.com

The fer-de-lance has venom that is very similar to the bushmaster. They also have a pretty impressive set of fangs. Fer-de-lance means “spear head” in French, which describes the snakes head that comes to a point at the nose. They live in Mexico, Central America and South America. The problem with fer-de-lance is they have a reputation of being an aggressive snake that is not afraid to bite. It is more deadly than the Eastern diamondback, making it the deadliest snake in the Americas.

8. Puff Adder

puff adder with tongue out
One of the most dangerous snakes in Africa is the puff adder They can puff their heads up to make themselves look bigger.

©iStock.com/S_Lew

Puff adders are one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa. They can puff up their bodies and especially their heads to make themselves look bigger. For a snake that is already 3-5 feet it can look quite intimidating. They are tan with dark brown markings and cat-like eyes with vertical slits. One of the issues with Puff adders is they like to hang out next to common walking paths used by barefoot villagers. This is a recipe for snake bites.

9. Russel’s Viper

Most Venomous Snakes in the World - Russel’s Viper
Look at the unique pattern on the Russel’s viper. Now be sure to stay away from any snake that looks like that. They have enough venom to kill 22 humans!

©jaroslava V/Shutterstock.com

One of the problematic snakes that have hemotoxic venom in India is the Russel’s viper. It is said to have “enough venom to kill 22 humans”! One statistic puts 40 mg of venom the lethal limit for humans, but the Russel’s viper is capable of injecting 275 mg! Another disturbing characteristic is they will sometimes bite and hold on vs. delivery a quick bite and getting away. Definitely a dangerous snake.

10. Saw-Scaled Viper

Deadliest Snakes - Indian Saw Scaled Viper
One of the deadliest snakes in the world is the saw-scaled viper. They live in India where access to medical facilities and antivenom can be limited.

©reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

The saw-scaled viper is considered one of the deadliest snakes in the world. It is responsible for the most deaths in the world. Considering that it’s a common snake in India, where there can be limited access to medical facilities and large population of people living in rural areas, the numbers add up. The saw-scaled viper is also an aggressive snake that strikes fast and multiple times. Despite the frequency of bites, it is only fatal in about 10% of the cases. By far one of the most dangerous snakes that has hemotoxic venom!

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The Featured Image

Saw-scaled viper / Echis omanensis
Saw-scaled viper / Echis omanensis
© reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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