Which is More Venomous: Rattlesnake vs Black Mamba?

Banded Rock Rattlesnake
© Glenn McCrea/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Published: April 5, 2022

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The world is filled with deadly snakes. However, not all venomous snakes are made the same. Some of them will leave an animal lingering in pain, and others will completely overwhelm the animal’s system, killing them in minutes. The Mojave rattlesnake is one of the deadliest rattlesnakes in the western hemisphere. The black mamba is a snake from Africa that almost guarantees death when it strikes. Which reptile is more venomous in a rattlesnake vs black mamba comparison? We’re going to show you!

Comparing Rattlesnake and Black Mamba Venom

Rattlesnake and black mamba venoms differ in the type of venom used, potency of the substance, and mortality rate of the venom.
Rattlesnake VenomBlack Mamba Venom
Type of Venom– Hemotoxic venom– Neurotoxic venom
LD50 of venom– 50mg-100mg per bite
– 0.18 mg/kg
– 100-120mg venom injection, but up to 400mg maximum
0.28 mg/kg- 0.32mg/kg
Potential Number of People Killed Per Envenomation– Potentially 10 people with a bite– One bite can kill about 19 people
Mortality Rate– 5%-25% mortality rate if left untreated
– About 1% mortality rate with treatment
– 100% mortality rate untreated – 5%-10% mortality rate with treatment
Envenomation Rate– 65%-75% envenomation rate
– 25%-35% of bites are dry
–  80%-100% or higher
May not deliver any dry bites

The Key Differences Between Rattlesnake vs Black Mamba Venom

The key differences between rattlesnake venom and black mamba venom are the type of venom used, the potency of the substance, and the mortality rate of the venom. Rattlesnake venom is hemotoxic, can kill up to 10 people with a single dose, and has a 5%-25% mortality rate when left untreated, but black mamba venom is neurotoxic, can kill about 19 people with a bite, and has a 100% mortality rate if the envenomated person doesn’t get treatment.

These are some of the most significant differences between the snakes’ venom, but some others exist. Let’s take a closer look at the venoms so we can truly understand their power.

Rattlesnake vs Black Mamba: Type of Venom

Black mambas are rarely black, and they're actually named for the inside of their mouth.

Black mamba venom is one of the deadliest venoms in existence.


Rattlesnakes have hemotoxic venom, a substance that causes the victim to suffer from damage to the red blood cells in the body. As a result, the venom causes humans to suffer from organ damage and tissue degradation. This venom impacts blood clotting and also inflicts terrible pain, nausea, and other problems. Generally speaking, hemotoxic venom works slower than a neurotoxic variety.

Black mambas inject neurotoxic venom into their foes. Neurotoxic venom damages nerve tissue and can cause different medical problems, including respiratory paralysis that begins in about 15 minutes, limb paralysis, loss of consciousness, and cardiovascular distress. Also, black mamba venom is believed to be the fastest-acting venom of all snakes.

Overall, the neurotoxic venom is the worse of the two.

Rattlesnake vs Black Mamba: LD50

The LD50 number refers to the amount of venom that killed over 50 percent of the participating mice. Rattlesnake venom has an LD50 of 0.18mg/kg, meaning that it’s a very potent venom. Considering that the average bite of a rattlesnake can inject upwards of 50mg-100mg, this venom is something to avoid.

Black mambas often inject between 100mg-120mg of venom, but they can inject as much as 400mg! Black mamba venom’s LD50 is 0.28mg/g to 0.32mg/kg. Although this measure may make you think that a rattlesnake’s venom is deadlier, the truth is more complex.

The type of venom and the speed with which it works are two aggravating factors in this case.

Rattlesnake vs Black Mamba: Number of People Killed Per Envenomation

Rattlesnakes While HIking - Timber Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake venom can kill about ten people with a single dose.

©Joe McDonald/Shutterstock.com

A single bite from a black mamba can inject 100mg of venom into a person’s body. That is more than enough venom to kill 19 people or more. When you consider that black mambas can inject up to 400mg per bite and try to bite multiple times, that number can rise a great deal.

Rattlesnakes can issue a bite with enough venom to kill about ten people. That is a significant amount of power for a venomous snake that is not even considered one of the ten deadliest snakes in the world.

Rattlesnake vs Black Mamba: Mortality Rate

Black mamba venom has a much higher mortality rate than rattlesnake venom. Left untreated, black mamba venom will kill its victim every time. This venom has a 100% mortality rate, but that number drops down to 5%-10% when a person receives an antivenom treatment.

Rattlesnake venom has a mortality rate somewhere between 5% and 25% when it is left untreated. Due to the advances in medicine and the slow-acting nature of rattlesnake venom, only about 1% of treated people die. It’s clear that black mamba venom is far deadlier.

Rattlesnake vs Black Mamba: Envenomation Rate

Not every snakebite includes venom. Rattlesnakes will sometimes strike prey to get it to back off instead of going for the kill. They want to save their venom for things they can eat. Rattlesnakes envenomate about 65%-75% of the time. That means you have a decent chance of not being envenomated by these creatures.

Black mambas are estimated to envenomate their prey between 80% and 100% of the time. If they are going to bite, they are going for the kill. Some scientists believe that they do not give dry bites at all.

When you add all these factors together, a black mamba bite is far worse than a rattlesnake bite.

Which is More Venomous: Rattlesnake vs Black Mamba?

Black mamba in a defensive posture

Black mambas are one of the world’s most venomous snakes.

©Cormac Price/Shutterstock.com

Black mambas are more venomous than rattlesnakes. A black mamba can inject more venom, has more powerful venom, and possesses faster-acting venom than a rattlesnake. Some of the measurements that we have reviewed in this article, like the LD50, may make it seem like rattlesnake venom is worse.

However, we have to take a look at several dimensions of the venom to understand why it’s so deadly. When we consider both venoms with all their facets, black mamba venom is far deadlier than venom from even the deadliest rattlesnake. With that understanding in mind, it should be plain to see why black mambas are the world’s most dangerous snake and also one of the most venomous!

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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