The World Of Snakes

Abhidyu Ajila
6 min readApr 30, 2022


Picture Credit: Pinterest

Our planet is an interesting place, from the past to the present there has been a plethora of changes in species evolution and diversity with various animals evolving or going extinct. Certain species of animals, however, survived and evolved, distributing throughout the continents. Snakes are a unique set of animals that are found on almost all continents except Antarctica and the Arctic.

Picture Credit: Wikimedia

They come in a variety of colours and patterns that allow them to blend with their surroundings. Today I’ll be taking you through some snake families that are quite simply amazing and also talk about the types of venom they posses and what to do when you’re bit by a snake. Without any further ado, let’s get on with it.


The largest family of snakes in the world with 249 genera, they are found on all continents except in Antarctica. These snakes are rear-fanged with some of them being dangerous to humans otherwise in general don’t pose a threat to humans. The most commonly found Colubridae in India is the Oriental Rat Snake (ptyas mucosa) or commonly known as dhaman in parts of India. They are non-venomous snakes that measure about 1.5 to 1.9 m long (4ft 11 inches to 6ft 5 inches) though some may exceed 2 metres. They are semi-arboreal, diurnal and agile snakes, colour patterns vary depending on the type of area they reside in, pale brown in dry regions and almost black in wet regions.

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While most of these snakes come under mildly venomous as they possess venom but in general aren’t that effective towards humans, there are some exceptions as the Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) which are highly venomous snakes of this family. Measuring around (3 to 5.3 ft) long, with males being light green with black and blue scales and females being brown. They possess highly hemotoxic venom that stops coagulation of blood causing external bleeding to the victim along with bleeding from the eyes as a symptom. The slow acting venom although gives enough time for the victim to get antivenin treatment but also gives false hope to the victim.

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This family has one of the most venomous and fastest snakes in the world. These include cobras, kraits and other deadly snakes. They are slender snakes with front proteroglyphus fangs that they use to inject venom into their prey. They are found in Africa, South and South-East Asia, America and the Pacific. These snakes possess highly neurotoxic venom that affects the victims nervous system. The most venomous snake of this family is the Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) one of the most deadliest snake in the African continent.

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Also known as the kiss of death, these snakes are found in dry savannahs, desert areas and lowland forests. Adults usually measure around 2 to 3 m ( 6.5 to 9.7ft) in length, they are found in various colours like olive, khaki, yellowish-brown and gunmetal coloured but are rarely black. They are the second-longest venomous snake in the world the first being the one and only King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), this snake is the longest venomous snake in the world measuring 3.18 to 4m long (10.4 to 13.5ft) with some individuals measuring 5.58 m (19.2 ft) long. Both the snake species possess highly potent venom that can kill an individual before 30 minutes if antivenom treatment is not administered. That’s why their offspring are also considered dangerous.

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Picture Credit: Wikimedia

As the name suggests this family of snakes include vipers eg Malabar Pit Viper (Trimerusurus malabaricus) in the picture above. These snakes possess hinged fangs allowing their fangs to go deep and inject more venom. These snakes are commonly found in the forests of Africa, Asia and the Americas. One of the most deadliest snake of this family would be the Saw scaled viper (Echis carinatus), they are known for their agressive nature and would bite repeatedly along with a dangerous hemotoxic and cytotoxic venom that not only destroy cells but also tissues inside that causes internal bleeding.

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The title for the longest in vipers goes to the South American Bushmaster (Lachesis muta) they are the longest venomous viper species and the third longest venomous snakes in the world measuring around 2.5 metres but can grow upto 3 metres (10ft).

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Boas and Pythons

Picture Credit: National Geographic Kids

Now let’s get to the heavyweights shall we?, these snakes are the heaviest and largest in the world but they are 2 separate families with the Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulans) and Anaconda Boa (Eunectes mirunus) representing the largest snakes in the world measuring 9 metres (30ft)- Green Anacondas and 7.3 metres (23ft) according to some reports. They are constrictors that coil around their prey and squeeze the life out of them. Pretty gruesome I know!!

Picture Credit: Wikipedia

Types Of Venom and Precautions

Now, I’ll be taking about the types of venom and what to do if you’re bitten by one.

There are 2 types of venom found in snakes, that also is divided in different families that are Viperidae and Elapidae.

  1. Neurotoxic Venom
    This type of venom is primarily found in elapids( Cobras, Kraits and Taipans). As the name suggests this venom contains potent neurotoxins which attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms found in a victim from a Spectacled Cobra bite are muscle paralysis in the skeletal muscles, ptosis, frothy saliva and respiratory failure.
  2. Hemotoxic Venom
    This type of venom is found in the family Viperidae. This type of venom causes disruption of blood clotting, destruction of red blood cells, organ tissue damage . Symptoms found in a victim bitten by a Russell’s pit viper are bleeding in gums and urine, kidney failure and fall in blood pressure and heart rate.

Precautions and Safety Measures

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In case of a snake bite, one must try to remain as calm with little to no movement by their side to reduce the spread of venom in the blood stream which will pass throughout the body.

Here are some useful and time efficient steps to save the victim:

  1. Try to relax the person and make them lie down if the bite was below chest level, make sure they don’t move at all so that there’s less spread of venom throughout the body.
  2. Cover the wound with a loose and sterile bandage on the wound.
  3. Call emergency services immediately.

So these are some of the snake families, the venom they possess, some interesting facts on them and some precautions and dos and don’ts on snakes. Snakes are an important part of the ecosystem that help monitor the population of small animals. If you love animals and anything related to animals, then this article page is the one for you. If you like what I write, then feel free to share it with your fellow animal lovers and enthusiasts. As always stay safe and take it easy👻.

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Abhidyu Ajila

A zoology student who talks animals, conservation, evolution and geography