The 4 Most Aggressive Snakes In The World

Written by Kristen Holder
Updated: April 27, 2023
© reptiles4all/
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Key Points

  • It’s important to remember that no matter how aggressive a snake is, it almost always won’t attack unprovoked.
  • When a snake is shedding its skin, it’s common that it’s more aggressive than it normally is.
  • Another common trigger is when it’s full from a large meal. It can’t get away fast, so it tends to lash out quicker.

While not every snake that gets aggressive is deadly, venomous snakes can be some of the most aggressive. It’s important to remember that no matter how aggressive a snake is, it almost always won’t attack unprovoked. Some have a shorter fuse than others.

When a snake is shedding its skin, it’s common that it’s more aggressive than it normally is. That’s because the scales over its eyes are clouded during this process. Another common trigger is when it’s full from a large meal. It can’t get away fast, so it tends to lash out quicker.

Other things can try a snake’s patience, and each snake is a little different. Every snake attack is a matter of last resort, but which ones reach the end of their ropes first? What are the most aggressive snakes in the world?

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Infographic showing the four most aggressive snakes in the world.
The Black Mamba is not only one of the most aggressive snakes in the world, but one of the fastest.

1. Black Mamba

Most Venomous Snakes in the World - Black Mamba
The black mamba is fearless when cornered.

©Cormac Price/

The black mamba is the fastest land snake in the world and is the second-longest venomous snake in the world. It can move up to 12 mph, and its home is in South and East Africa.

This snake is fearless when cornered and will not hesitate to defend itself. It also doesn’t reduce venom amounts in defensive attacks, so its highly toxic venom is always delivered with every bite.

Anyone that is not treated for a black mamba bite will die, and 14% of treated victims will also die. It only takes a little bit of their venom to kill a human, and when they strike, they inject much more than is needed into the victim.

They also bite numerous times in one attack, often up to 12 times, and each time, they deliver the same amount of venom. Symptoms become severe very quickly, but there is an antivenom available.

The black mamba gets its name from its black mouth, which it shows when it’s upset. It opens its mouth and hisses while spreading out its neck when it feels threatened. It tries this first before using venom.

Black mambas mainly eat galagos, bats, chickens, birds, and rats. They enjoy taking over termite mounds in forests and savannahs.

2. Saw-Scaled Viper

10 Most Venomous Animals - The Roman's Saw scaled Viper is the most dangerous snake in Africa and Asia
The saw-scaled viper is so aggressive that it’s responsible for the most snakebite deaths on earth.

©Luis Montero de Espinosa/

The carpet viper, also called the saw-scaled viper, is one of the most aggressive snakes on the planet while also packing a venomous punch.

This snake is so aggressive that it’s responsible for the most human deaths, while only 10 percent of untreated victims die. The saw-scaled viper is responsible for more human deaths than the combined deaths from all other snake species. It injects three times as much venom as needed to kill a person.

When the saw-scaled viper attacks, it springs from a coil. It’s hard to spot because it blends into its surroundings so well, and it also populates human spaces, so encounters happen frequently. There is an antivenom available, so deaths are supposed to be rare.

Their frequency makes them deadly, and it’s how the saw-scaled viper ended up on our list of the most aggressive snakes in the world.

The saw-scaled viper is found in central Asia and the Middle East and is centered on the Indian subcontinent. These snakes can be as long as 2.5 feet, but they usually are around 2 feet long. They are also nocturnal, though they are sometimes up during the day. They like the burrows of other animals, and they’ll also hide in the sand, leaving just their heads poking out.

3. Coastal Taipan

Most Venomous Snakes - Coastal Taipan
The coastal taipan is aggressive and alert.

©Ken Griffiths/

The coastal taipan is like the black mamba in venom potency, color, shape, and size. It attacks its prey in much of the same way as the black mamba, allowing the prey to walk around and die to avoid damage to themselves.

These snakes are found on part of the east and north coast of Australia, as well as New Guinea. They are very alert for snakes, and anything that is disturbing near them will provoke an attack. They bite multiple times per strike and inject an extremely toxic venom deep into the tissue.

This land snake is the third most venomous of its kind. It’s most active about midmorning, though it may be fully nocturnal in the heat of the summer. It likes to eat bandicoots, rats, mice, and birds when it gets the chance.

The coastal taipan likes to cruise around with its head held up until it finds prey, then it holds still before it bounces toward the target and strikes. When it decides to bite, it inflicts multiple quick bites.

At an average length of 6.5 feet, the coastal taipan is second in line for the title of longest venomous snake in Australia. It will hang out in human-planted sugarcane fields, open woodlands, and forests.

Coastal taipans have really venomous bites. One study showed that 35% of patients had spontaneous bleeding from the gums. Usually, with the assistance of ventilation, antivenom keeps the death toll around 4.3% of victims.

4. Bushmaster Snake

bushmaster snake on limb
The bushmaster snake hides well and is aggressive if disturbed.


The bushmaster snake is one of the most aggressive snakes on the planet when it feels threatened. It is also extremely venomous. It is the largest pit viper in the world, reaching up to 12 feet, though it averages at about 6.5 feet. In the Americas, this is the longest venomous snake that you can find.

This snake lives in rural Central and South America, and it can sit in the same camouflaged place for days waiting for a good opportunity to strike at prey. It likes heavy cool forests below 3,000 feet.

If disturbed, bushmaster snakes will strike out repeatedly and halfheartedly chase you when you run away. That isn’t to say that the snake puts up a chase. It just vehemently stands its ground. It’s nocturnal and lives outside cities, so human encounters are rare.

Mother bushmasters lay eggs and incubate them. They don’t leave to feed and will be extremely aggressive if disturbed.

Summary Of The Most Aggressive Snakes In The World

1Black MambaSouth and East Africa
2Saw-Scaled ViperCentral Asia and the Middle East
3Coastal TaipanEast and north coast of Australia and New Guinea
4Bushmaster SnakeCentral and South America

Other Aggressive Animals In The World

The honey badger has earned the reputation of being the most aggressive and having such a ferocious disposition that it has earned the title of being the most fearless animal in the world. Known for being fearless because it will never hesitate to attack animals larger than itself, like crocodiles and lions, and will rush towards its enemies with a loud rattling roar. This mammal has incredibly thick skin and is not bothered by snake or dog bites, or bee stings.

Animals That Stay Up All Night - Tasmanian devil
The Tasmanian devil


The world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial was exclusive to the Australian state of Tasmania but has recently been reintroduced to New South Wales on the mainland of Australia. The Tasmanian devil is the size of a small dog and has a bite force that can not only chew through metal wires but can crush bones. These temperamental critters give off a crazed howling sound that earned them their name and have been known to hunt prey as large as a kangaroo.

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The Featured Image

Deadliest Snakes - Indian Saw Scaled Viper
The saw-scaled viper kills 4,000-5,000 people annually in India alone.
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About the Author

I'm a fact-driven creative with a love of history and an eye for detail. I graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2009 with a BA in Art History after a STEM-focused high school career. Telling a complex story with real information in a manner that's easy to digest is my talent. When I'm not writing for A-Z Animals, I'm doting on my 3 cats while I watch documentaries and listen to music in Romance languages.

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