- The king cobra, which is found in Asia, holds the title of the biggest venomous snake in the world.
- The eastern diamondback rattlesnake holds the title of the biggest venomous snake in North America.
- The bushmaster is a pit viper and is recognized as the longest venomous snake in South America.
It’s common knowledge that the earth is divided into 7 continents, each part with its unique people, culture, history, and of course, wildlife. Asia, the largest continent, is famous for its large population of people and culture. Africa follows closely behind Asia in population and size and is famed for its unique history and plentiful natural resources.
South and North America are two parts of the Americas, the former famous for its breathtaking rivers, mountains, and deserts, and the latter for various landmarks. Australia, often referred to as Australinea has worldwide fame and recognition for its wildlife. According to the Nature Conservancy of Australia, 80% of the continent’s plants and wildlife aren’t found anywhere else in the world. Europe, bordered by five oceans, is known for its industrial and agricultural diversity, and Antarctica is the coldest continent on Earth.
While it is common to come across comparisons between some or all of the continents, not many of them focus on wildlife, or in particular, venomous snakes. If you’ve ever wondered how the largest venomous snakes of each continent fare when compared and contrasted, then this article is the perfect one for you, as it has all you need to know.
The largest venomous snake in the North American continent is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are of the pit viper family and are recognized as the most venomous rattlesnakes known to man.
On average, they measure 3.5 to 5.5 feet long but have been reported to attain a length of 8.25 feet. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are heavy snakes, weighing as much as 10 pounds (4.5kg) on average. However, they frequently exceed the 11.3-pound (5.1kg) mark and, on rare occasions, are as heavy as 15 pounds (6.8 kg).
Eastern diamondbacks are also famed for their dangerous hemotoxic venom. On average, they produce 400–450 mg of venom but can produce as much as 858–1,000 mg. Despite their high yield, they need only about 100 to 150 mg to kill a human. Luckily, these snakes stay away from humans and only attack when they feel threatened.
The largest venomous snake in South America is the bushmaster, a pit viper famed for its lengthy body. Bushmasters are the longest vipers and pit vipers in the world, measuring 6.6 to 9.8 feet long on average. The largest bushmaster recorded was about 12 feet long (3.66 meters). On average, they weigh as much as 6.6 to 15.4 pounds (2.9 to 6.9 kg).
Bushmasters are also known for their deadly and multiple-acting neurotoxic venom. Their venom prevents blood from clotting, causes edema, lowers blood pressure, and even causes lung and kidney clots. On average, they emit about 200 to 411 mg of venom but can emit as much as 552 mg. Bushmasters have a lethal venom dosage (LD50) of 0.32 mg per pound. This means that the bushmaster could kill a 180-pound (81.6 kg) prey with about 57.6 mg of venom.
Asia’s largest venomous snake is the king cobra. King cobras are unbelievably long and venomous elapids. On average, they measure 10.4 to 13.1 feet long, but specimens measuring 19.2 feet long have been recorded. Their venom contains neurotoxins, alpha-neurotoxins, cytotoxins, and three-finger toxins.
King cobras have a maximum venom yield of about 400–600 mg but have a lethal venom dose of about 0.58 to 0.77 mg per pound. This means the king cobra can kill 180-pound prey with about 104 to 129 mg of venom. One survey conducted in an Asian country showed that 10 out of 35 patients died after they were bitten by king cobras.
The largest venomous snake in Africa is the black mamba. Black mambas are famed for their length, coffin-shaped heads, and black interior mouths. They usually measure anywhere from 6.58 to 9.8 feet long, and some specimens up to 14 feet have been recorded.
Black mambas are exceedingly venomous snakes with a maximum venom yield of about 280 mg. However, they only need about 15 to 20 mg of venom to kill a human, which is less than 10% of their total venom yield. The black mamba’s venom is made of fast-acting neurotoxins that cause slurred speech, drooping eyelids, respiratory paralysis, blurred vision, a tingling sensation on the skin, an absent gag reflex, muscle twitches, loss of consciousness, and even vertigo.
The largest venomous snake in Europe is the Levantine viper, also known as the blunt-nosed viper. These snakes are not extremely large and are known to reach maximum lengths of 5 feet (1.5 m) and weigh an average of 9 pounds (4 kg).
Levantine vipers have a maximum lethal dosage of 3.54 mg per pound. This means that about 637.2 mg of this viper’s venom is enough to kill a 180-pound prey. However, it is unclear just how much would be fatal in humans and how much venom these snakes actually produce.
The largest venomous snake in Australia is the mulga snake, also known as the king brown snake. These snakes measure up to 6.6 to 8.2 feet long and weigh 6.6 to 13.2 pounds on average. The largest specimen ever recorded was 11 feet (3.4 m).
Mulga snakes can produce up to 1,000 mg of venom and have a lethal venom dose of 0.866 mg per pound. This means that a 180-pound prey could be killed with 155.88 mg of venom. Their venom contains toxic mycotoxins that affect muscles and kidney cells.
If you were looking to discover the largest snake in Antarctica, we’ve got news; the Land of Ice has no snakes. In fact, most animals on this continent are birds, penguins, seals, whales, or other marine life. There are no snakes, venomous or otherwise, in Antarctica.
What is the Largest Venomous Snake in the World?
The largest venomous snake in the world is Asia’s king cobra. However, the largest snake in the world is the nonvenomous Green Anaconda found in South America. The most venomous of the 6 listed snakes is the black mamba found in Africa. North America houses the largest rattlesnake, and Europe is known for its short snakes. The longest snake in Europe is the nonvenomous Caspian whipsnake, and the tallest specimen on record was only 6 feet and 7 inches!
Other Record-Breaking Snakes
Fox snakes usually measure between 36 and 54 inches long, but they can grow up to 60 inches or more. The longest fox snake ever recorded was 70 ½ inches long, which is quite impressive.
To put that into perspective, the largest corn snake ever recorded was about 74 inches long, which is only slightly longer than the biggest fox snake. Another snake that is comparable in size to the largest fox snake is the black racer, which measured around 6 feet in length.
Furthermore, North America is home to two types of fox snakes, each with its own distinct habitat and geographical range. The eastern fox snake can be found east of the Mississippi River, specifically in Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada.
This species is typically found in wetland environments such as swamps and marshes. However, it should be noted that the ranges of the two fox snake species do not overlap, meaning that they do not inhabit the same areas.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © NickEvansKZN/Shutterstock.com
Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda
Every day A-Z Animals sends out some of the most incredible facts in the world from our free newsletter. Want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a "snake island" where you're never more than 3 feet from danger, or a "monster" snake 5X larger than an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you'll start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.