What Are the Different Types of Poisonous Snakes?

The Northern Pacific rattlesnake is venomous.
Cobras are poisonous snakes.
Some cottonmouths, a type of poisonous snake, are found in wetland areas.
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  • Written By: Vicki Hogue-Davies
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 17 April 2014
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There are dozens of species of poisonous snakes throughout the world. Some of the most venomous snakes include the black mamba, king cobra and inland taipan. Other types of poisonous snakes include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, coral snakes, bushmasters, common adders, boomslangs and yellow-bellied sea snakes.

The black mamba, named for the color of the inside of its mouth, is found in southern and eastern Africa and can grow as long as 14 feet (4.5 m). King cobras live in India and Southeast Asia and can deliver enough venom in a bite to kill 20 people, and although they generally avoid contact with humans, they will strike when cornered. Found in Australia, the inland taipan, also called a fierce snake, generally are considered the most toxic snake in the world.

Just a few other types of poisonous snakes include the bushmaster, common adder and boomslang. The bushmaster is found in Central and South America. Common adders live throughout Europe and are the only poisonous snakes in the United Kingdom. The boomslang is a tree snake found in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, there are four species of poisonous snakes. They include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and coral snakes. Among these poisonous snakes, rattlesnakes are the most common. There are multiple species of rattlesnakes throughout the country. The largest is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, which can get up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) in length.


Copperheads, named for the reddish-brown color on the top of their heads, are found in the eastern and central U.S., usually in forested or rocky areas or near water. Cottonmouths, also called water moccasins, are found in or around rivers, lakes, marshes and wetland areas in the southeastern U.S. Coral snakes live in the southern U.S. and can be confused with harmless king snakes because of the colored bands on their bodies; when red and yellow bands touch, it is a coral snake.

Poisonous snakes aren't found only on land. They also can be found at sea. Yellow-bellied sea snakes are the most common of the poisonous sea snakes. Inhabiting a wide range in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, they can grow up to 45 inches (114 cm) in length. There are dozens of other species of sea snakes; most are venomous, and all are found in the Indian or Pacific oceans.

There are many poisonous snakes in the world, but with modern antivenin treatments, human death by snakebite is not common. For example, in the United States, approximately 7,000 to 8,000 people in the country are bitten by venomous snakes each year. Out of those, five die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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