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Top 10 Most Dangerous Snakes in Africa (2023)

One of the most frequently asked questions about snakes is- which snake is the most dangerous?

Most snakes are only venomous but not poisonous. Some snake venoms can be safely taken without any effect, although this is completely not recommended. The topic of the most venomous snakes is quite a debate as the most venomous snake in Africa is often considered not very dangerous.

In Africa, we can find extremely dangerous snakes that would be discussed subsequently.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Snakes In Africa

1. The Black Mamba

The Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is Africa’s most powerful venomous snake that can reach an average of 2.5 meters in size and can be as large as 4.5 meters. It’s very aggressive and won’t hesitate to strike. It’s very swift as it can achieve speeds as high as twelve miles per hour. However, despite its name the black mamba doesn’t have black skin but rather a brownish olive skin color. 

The name is derived from the black fang which is displayed when it feels at risk. The venom of the snake is a powerful mix of cardio and neurotoxins that can kill more than a dozen people in an hour without proper treatment and anti-venom. The mortality rate is close to 100 percent thus earning it the title of the most dangerous snake in Africa.

2. Mozambique Spitting Cobra

The Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica) is perhaps the most commonly encountered in subtropical and tropical Africa. It is thought to be one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa. As the name implies, it is believed that the Mozambique Spitting Cobra can “spit” its venom. But “spraying” is probably a more precise definition. It is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa.

Snakes can spray or spit out their neurotoxic venom at distances as long as 3 meters. Their bites can cause serious tissue damage and if the poison hits the eyes, it can cause vision impairment as well as blindness. This snake species don’t necessarily bite, but it could make a mockery of death to prevent the possibility of molestation in the future.

3. Puff Adder

The Puff Adder (Bitis arietans) is the main cause of death of humans than any other species of snakes in Africa. It is responsible for about 60% of the snakebites on the continent. It’s one of the most widespread snake species found on the African continent, and it is found in most African regions, except desert areas and rainforests. 

The Puff Adder is a camouflaged snake specie that is prone to lying at a halt when approached, humans tend to walk over them and then get bit. They have long fangs, ranging from 12 to 18 mm in length. The Puff Adder is an excellent swimmer and climber. In the event of a disturbance, the species screams with a roar, creating the shape of a tight spiral. A single bite can inject between 100-350 mg of cytotoxic venom. 

4. Gaboon Viper

The Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica) blends perfectly with the leaf cover and surrounding vegetation, making it the ultimate predator for an ambush. It frightens its prey, including large birds, as well as mammals by standing still, and then launching an attack on its target.

Gaboon vipers are large-bodied snakes, which can weigh as much as 10 kg and reach over 2 meters in length. With its large triangular-shaped head, the species grows two nostril horns when it gets older. It has the largest fang of any snake with a length of up to two inches making it one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa.

5. Egyptian Cobra

As its name suggests, Egypt is not the sole habitat of this species. The Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje) is usually found in Egypt however, it is the most widely distributed of all African cobras. Their size ranges from 1.5 to 2 meters however, some specimens could surpass 2.5 meters in length.

The Egyptian Cobra venom is considered the third most toxic venom in any species of cobra following that of the Northern Philippine Cobra and Cape Cobra. Its poison is so potent that it could kill an elephant adult in less than three hours and a human in just 15 minutes. Legend says Cleopatra was believed to be the one who committed suicide with the help of an Egyptian Cobra.

6. Saw-Scaled Viper

They are usually found in northern Africa. the Saw-Scaled vipers (Echis carinatus) are tiny, yet aggressive and easily excited snakes. Adult vipers have an average length of 20-30 inches. It’s the smallest of the Big Four Indian snakes which are responsible for the majority of snakebite deaths and snake bites in India.

The name of the species comes because of the “sizzling” sound it makes when the scales rub against each other and also serves as a warning. The snake’s venom is hemotoxic and extremely potent making it one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa. According to some scientists, the venom is five times more toxic than the venom of the Indian Cobra which is 16 times as toxic as Russell’s Viper.

7. Boomslang

The Boomslang (Dispholidus Typus) is found in sub-Saharan Africa and is believed to be the most poisonous rear-fanged snake of all. The snake’s name Boomslang comes from the Afrikaans word tree snake. It’s a tree-dwelling snake species. It’s similar to the Gaboon Viper with its long fangs, and it opens its mouth fully 180 degrees for a bite.

While deaths caused by the species are extremely rare as it is extremely timid, the snake venom is hemotoxic and causes external as well as internal bleeding. Sexual dimorphism is especially evident in the Boomslang language as females are brown while males are light green, with some black highlights

8. Cape Cobra

The Cape Cobra (Naja Nivea) is extremely neurotoxic and its venom is believed to have the highest potency among the African cobras. Sometimes, it’s also referred to as the yellow cobra and it is one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa. They are gorgeous snakes that differ in color, ranging between yellow and copper/mahogany and black/purplish.

They also vary in size, with the average being 4 feet, but they can also increase to 6 feet. The rate of mortality in humans is approximately 60% if it is not treated as soon as possible. The death rate is usually in the 2-5 hours following the bite and is usually caused by respiratory failure caused by paralysis.

9. Green Mamba

The Green Mamba’s venom composition is identical to the Black Mamba. It’s just 10% as harmful. The species as its name suggests is different in color with glossy grass green and an average size of 1.8m.

It is extremely timid and is much more gentle than the black mamba. It’s also more woodland-based instead of being primarily terrestrial. There are two kinds of green Mambas, the Western Green Mamba (Dendroaspis Viridis) that is indigenous in West Africa, and the Eastern Green Mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps) located in the Eastern part of southern Africa.

10. Bush Viper

The Bush Viper (Atheris squamigera) is often referred to as the Leaf Viper or green bush viper. It’s an arboreal snake that lives in the forests and rainforests of Africa located in the Congo Basin, Uganda, and Kenya. It is extremely venomous, but inactive, even though it can defend itself if it is attacked. The Bush Viper is one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa.

Its behavior is predominantly at night and is often found on the ground to eat smaller rodents, small frogs, and Lizards. Utilizing its tail, the Bush Viper hangs off the lower branches of the trees and attacks its unaware prey. The color of their fur is typically green, but they can adapt to their surroundings to ensure survival thus specimens with dark brown, or olive are quite common.