Australian Snakes and Death: Continued

by BobinOz on July 15, 2009

in Australia's Bad Things

In my first post about snakes I explained that the Brisbane area has eight snakes that can kill. Nationwide though, Australia has around 140 different species of snake of which 12 can kill. We have another 30 or so sea snakes. So, it’s worse than you thought right?


According to my research, as at the time of writing there have been 41 snakebite deaths since 1980 in Australia. The brown snake is believed to have been involved in 24 of those deaths.

Eastern Brown

The Eastern Brown Snake

The Tiger Snake is responsible for 8 and the Death Adder, Rough Scaled Snake and Taipan are responsible for the rest.

Some facts:

  • Australian snakes are very shy and timid. They would rather move away from a human, not towards one.
  • Australia’s snakes rarely envenom when biting defensively. Envenomation occurs in less than 1 in 10 bites. They prefer to hit you with a warning.
  • There are no documented fatalities in Australia from sea snake bite.


It has been pointed out to me that my statement above saying ‘Envenomation occurs in less than 1 in 10 bites’ is not reliable where browns are concerned. So I did a little more research.

First, some background about my original claim. I found a couple of websites making this statement and referencing the quote to ‘Sutherland & King, 1991: 1’. So I felt it was good to publish. But, since Gordon questioned it below in the comments, somewhere around comment 84, I took another look online.

I found an interesting site about toxicity. Some pretty smart people from Adelaide are behind it, including folk from the Women’s and Childrens Hospital and Adelaide University.

Here’s a selection of snakes and their envenomation rates according to them:

Eastern Brown Snake , Common Brown Snake

Rate of Envenoming: 20-40%

Mulga Snake , King Brown Snake

Rate of Envenoming: 40-60%

Inland Taipan , Fierce Snake

Rate of Envenoming: >80%

Common Death Adder

Rate of Envenoming: 40-60%

Mainland Tiger Snake, Eastern Tiger Snake

Rate of Envenoming: 40-60%

Red-bellied Black Snake

Rate of Envenoming: 40-60%

Golden Crowned Snake

Rate of Envenoming: Unknown but likely to be low.

You can read more information about snakes and other venomous creatures at

So 10% seems a little hopeful to us mortals, not just for browns but for almost all snakes. Don’t know how Sutherland & King came to their conclusions but, at best, it seems highly optimistic. Although in fairness, I don’t know who is right and who is wrong here or how they got to their conclusions?. If anyone can throw some light on this, please do comment below.

Again, my thanks to Gordon for pointing this out and apologies for publishing this information which now appears may be flawed. I’ll end this update as Gordon ended his comment “It is a rare event and a low risk overall though , that is true. So, no need to panic!

On with the original post……

More scary than snakes.

  • More than 20 people die each year in Australia from horse riding related accidents. Less than 2 a year die from a snakebite.
  • The deadliest of all Australian creatures, responsible for an average of 10 deaths per year, is the European Honey Bee, which can induce anaphylactic shock in some people.
  • The same happens in the UK, where there are an estimated 10 deaths a year attributed to wasp or bee stings.
  • About 30-60 people are struck by lightning each year in Britain and, on average, 3 of those may die.
  • Scuba diving causes 8 deaths a year here in Australia.
  • Don’t even get me started on road traffic deaths!

So, you are statistically more likely to die going horse riding or scuba-diving, by being struck by lightning or stung by a bee or wasp or by simply getting about in a car.


Of those 41 deaths, it is estimated that over half of them occurred because the victim accidentally trod on the snake. Ways to prevent that from happening include wearing proper footwear when walking in the grass, using a torch at night, being a noisy walker and of course, watching where you tread.

About another eight of those deaths occurred because the victim was handling the snake. They either picked it up thinking it was harmless, or they work with snakes. Prevention: Don’t pick up snakes, but I’m sure you didn’t need me to work that out for you.

Probably another five deaths were due to the victims attempt to kill the snake. Prevention: Running away is always the better option. If it’s in the house, which would be rare, simply close the door to the room it is in or close all the doors and leave the house. Then phone a snake catcher.

That only leaves about five or six deaths which were probably unavoidable. And unpreventable.

It is also worth mentioning that alcohol consumption plays a big part in your chances of being killed by a snake. A high percentage of those killed had been drinking. Prevention: I can’t think of one.

Yes, Australia is home to some of the world’s most deadly snakes. But they are also some of the world’s most timid snakes. The worst countries in the world for snake deaths are Sri Lanka and India, followed by South Africa, Africa and then the USA. Yes, the USA has a higher death rate from snake bites per year than Australia. If you have ever travelled to America, has anyone ever said to you “oh my God! What about the snakes?”

I don’t think so.

I think we have been born to be scared of snakes. It has somehow been built into our collective conscious. But the facts don’t back it up. I have been watching an interesting programme called “The Snake Crusader with Bruce George”. He rides around on his Harley Davidson catching snakes and returning them to their natural environment. He loves them, and I’m beginning to like them too. They are beautiful creatures.

The thing is, he can go and capture a snake, pick it up (skilfully of course), place it in a cloth bag and eventually take it into the wild to be released. One would have thought the snake had been through a traumatic time and may well be feeling quite angry and aggressive.

But no!

When he takes them out off the cloth bag and places them on the ground, they just slowly glide away from him heading straight back into the bush. He swears some of them turn back to look at him as if to say “thanks mate” for being returned back home. They show no aggression at all.

There was an interesting quote on the show from Bruce himself. He said “Snakes don’t bite – people get bitten.”

By and large, he’s probably right.

Thinking of moving to Australia but scared of snakes?

Check out this link:

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{ 293 comments… read them below or add one }

BobinOz December 13, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Hey AussieMitch – I smile a heck of a lot more since I moved here, hard to be miserable with so much sunshine around. Cheers mate!


AussieMitch December 10, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Gotta say YES I was actually grinning Ear 2 Ear. 😉 as I should ave been..Merry Xmas to you and your family my friend.


AussieMitch December 10, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Bob. I do my Best to keep the smiling gear sure makes life easier.
cheers Mate.


BobinOz December 10, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Hi Col – bet none of the Aussie snakes make Matts top ten, from either the old list or the new one. We shall see.

AussieMitch – Brodie a role model to Matt? Were you grinning when you typed that?


AussieMitch December 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Hi Ya young Matty,

Hope your Finals are going well, 2010 schoolies are nearly finished till 2011. Bet your looking forward to relaxing and catching up with your group of friends and life in the real world after a big study year. : )
Your exuberance about drop by drop venom stats and snake facts are commendable.
Are you sure you aren’t that Snake boy/man from a show on TV the other night? He was so into snakes that he even looked like one, had the full dental and face work to ensure it.
Quite amazing what people will do for their obsessions.

Thats really putting your money where your fangs are Aye? 😉

Haven’t seen or heard from Brodie for a while but last I heard he was busy working hard with field research and has probably not had time to grace us with his fascinating work.
Its great to read how he has definitely been a great Role Model and Mentor for you.
Am sure that when he publishes, which we hope he does, that you will be enjoy the read.

Merry Xmas to you and everyone on the Blog.



Matt December 9, 2010 at 7:39 am

I have finals this week lol… Hence the long wait for the post.. I promise its coming soon through.. and yes it is ridiculously … I think I may have to edit some stuff out.. And unlike brodie and all the other Australian snake fan boys I am actullay going to provide evidence.. ie studies on bites from different types of snakes compared to Australian snakes and articles saying that different animals react way differently to different venoms hence why testing venoms on mice and then declaring those toxicity rating to be accurate in anything other than a mouse is just flat out wrong. So we know that australia has 6 of the top ten drop for drop toxic snakes to MICE but after I post their will be some doubt as to whether these values are significant and mean anything to humans. I clearly dont think they are but you will have to decide for yourself after I post my evidence.

On a totally unrelated note.. australian snakes also tend to have very small fangs and venom yields[ with the taipan and death adder being the exception] compared to snakes from elsewhere[ Asia/Africa/North America}. This of course has nothing to do with drop for drop potency but it should be nooted none the less


COL B. December 9, 2010 at 5:58 am

… And Yeppon? I think Colleen meant ‘Yeppoon’. It’s a big town on the Qld coast near Rockhampton.


COL B. December 9, 2010 at 5:21 am

Hello Bob! Well it seems the top ten most venomous Snakes list l posted above is as out of date as to the book it came from was published in America in the year 2000 when technology/ research on this subject was then somewhat primitive. The list itself is now out of place.
After l spent months scouring the web, the majority of researchers and experts from many sites (l put it on an average scale) say that they concludes that Belcher’s Sea Snake carries the honor as the world’s most venomous, but not dangerous to Man due to sparse human populated areas; With the Fierce Snake and Eastern Brown carrying the honor as the world’s 1st and 2nd most venomous LAND Snakes respectively. Six of the top ten most venomous Snakes in the World are Australians.
The aggressive Eastern Brown has bitten more people in Australia than any other native Snake species due to close proximity to human populated areas, making it the most dangerous native Snake specie in the nation.
The Fierce Snake itself is not at all aggressive and are not dangerous to Man due to sparse human populated areas.


Mike April 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I agree. You’d be hard pressed to find any 2 sites with the same ranking of “deadliness” where snakes are concerned. From my understanding the Eastern Brown, as you say, is the cause of the most serious bites. The snake in Austraila most likely to give a lethal bite on one on one encounters is the Coastal Taipan. The King Brown(technically in the black snake family) can deliver a large amount of venom per bite and some Tiger snakes and the Death Adder can be quite dangerous.


BobinOz April 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Yes, the Eastern Brown is certainly responsible for the most deaths here in Australia. It’s not the most venomous here, I think that honour goes to the inland Taipan. It’s just that the Eastern Brown is more common in the most populated areas.


Mike April 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Yes. The LD50 tests put the Inland Taipan as the land snake with the most toxic venom in the world.


BobinOz April 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm

And they still have mice in the red centre. Just not as many as they probably would have had :-)


AussieMitch December 7, 2010 at 8:33 am

GDay Bob, and all interested with “Snake Spotting’.

Was just thinking, as I write this, that in Australia “Snake Spotting” could possibly be easier than other searches. Ranging high up with Kangaroos ,Goanna’s, Wombats, Koalas right down to more obscure individuals’s such as “UFO’s” ?? Which I would have to put right down the bottom of the proverbial list? ; )
Without regressing anymore, I guess its all about timing and location, with the magnificent snake much more certain to be found sunning on a ledge, up a tree, floating past when in a boat or around long grass. Floods tend to bring out snakes also, as they are washed out of their home sweet home, just like the poor people being effected right now in flash flooding areas in Oz.
Lets hope that the SES is coping well with keeping these people safe, and as Aussies do, support those most in need.

ps. Bob the “eyeball, slow, backwards cossack step” SKILL is there always for any visits from my neighbourhood wild red belly black in the future. lol. ; )
All lawns and fence lines are mowed short for child, adult and domestic pet safety.



BobinOz December 8, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Well I’ve been here three years and this is what I’ve spotted so far, in the wild of course. Top of the list is kangaroos, I reckon I’ve seen a dozen or more.

Second is snakes, I’ve seen six. Two were pointed out to me, otherwise I would have missed them. Two were in the road as I drove past. Then there was what I believed to be a green tree snake (harmless) that crossed my path in someone’s garden, and finally that small eastern brown (there is a link to it above in one of the earlier comments) which I took a video of.

Koalas, just one, and that was on Stradbroke Island. I got that on video too, you can see my koala sighting here.

No goanna’s, wombats or UFOs I’m afraid.

As for “eyeball, slow, backwards cossack step” – I tried to find out more about this skill by googling it. Top of the list was….. This post!

We really are the only people who know about it :-)


russell coight February 25, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Interesting about your order of spotting list. I grew up in nsw and in the 27yrs I been here ive only seen 8 snakes in the wild, 2 within the hr in tazzy, a little red belly chasing a grass hopper and a few in south coast and blue mountains. Ive seen liturally 1000s of roos. 100 or so goannas on the south coast, 30 or so wombats. 2 koalas, 1 on the great ocean rd, and 20 or so sharks in western oz circling our 13ft tinny. I hope to see more snakes in the future


BobinOz February 25, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Hi Russell

Well, it’s been three years since I wrote this, what can I add? Saw plenty of wombats in Tassie, and here in Brisbane a few more snakes, lots more roos but no more koalas and, unfortunately, still no goannas.

And I’ve just realised I forgot to mention that when I went to Uluru in May 2010, I saw camels and dingoes. I’m sure there is more, and maybe in three more years time remember those as well.

Cheers, Bob


BobinOz December 6, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Hi AussieMitch

Good to have you around and thank you for your compliments about my blog. Very interested to hear about your encounter with that red bellied black, we get them around here too although I’ve not yet seen one myself.

Which is a surprise, because where I live in western suburbs of Brisbane, snakes are currently rampant (according to reports), just like you say. And I spend a lot of time on acreage (not mine) and in the “long grass” and even for me, snake sightings are very rare. Although, having said that, I’ve seen two in the last couple of months.

I am quite interested in learning more about your “eyeball slow backwards cossack step” as this sounds like the sort of survival tip we all need to know. hehe!

cheers mate!



BobinOz December 6, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Hi Colleen

Yes, I’m quite enjoying this debate too, and I don’t think it over yet. And it looks like most of us are batting for Brodie, but Matt is currently writing a book. We are all waiting with baited breath.

As for you worrying about coming across a snake on every corner, this is what I think. If you stay out of the long grass, you probably won’t see any snakes and that goes for Yeppon too. But I’ve never been there, perhaps someone who knows more can help? Anyone know about Yeppon?

As for how you are most likely to meet your maker, on average only a couple of people a year die in Australia from a snake bite. In Queensland alone, in 2008, 327 people died in car accidents. So all up you are about 1000 times more likely to die in a car crash than by being bitten by a snake.

As for your kids, same as above, don’t let them go running off into the bush (or long grass) on their own. If you’re going to go for a country walk, keep your eyes peeled and your children close by. The bottom line is, snake deaths in Australia are extremely rare. Just stay alert when you are away from built up areas.


AussieMitch December 4, 2010 at 12:51 am

Well GDay Bob,

Am loving your Blog and your community that have landed here and socialising your space.
Not meaning to be “A Snake in the Grass” (pun intended)
by just hanging here after reading this interesting discussion on snakes.
So just a quick comment to spread the word that snakes are very active at the moment in Oz.
I had a quick “Eyeball” encounter with a lovely shiny, healthy, fully grown (2mtr) Red Belly Black snake only last week.
This magnificent specimen was hanging out mid afternoon under the cover I use at night for my pet Cockatoo.
His shiny bright red belly was Awesome, and he deserved the respect which he got, and he slowly slithered away without any fuss.

He definitely made me do the eyeball slow backwards cossack step to end our quick date.

My snake handler who rescues and relocates snakes, told me that this venomous snake was not aggressive and was probably just after possible mice attracted to the cocky seed.
Another quick tip was that if you have red bellies around they keep the more venomous Browns away.

That sure makes me feel better every morning as I slowly and cautiously uncover my lil buddy’s (Cockatoo) cage. lol.

Thanks Brodie for such Great content and “real world”
Expert advice and info on snakes.OUTSTANDING.
Cheers All


Colleen December 3, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Wow. I know very little about snakes until NOW! That was an entertaining debate, I’m with Team Brodie! Have come across your site looking for snakes in Yeppon. Have been thinking about moving up there and after accidently stumbling across a caravanning blog which tells me they are breeding like….er….rabbits up there I’m terrified that I’ll come across a snake on every other corner. I live on the Gold Coast at the moment in my own little snake-free sanctuary, where I know I am more likely to be killed in my car than by a snake, but if we narrow that down to local statistics is there a place where I am more likely to be killed by snake than my car? (and lets be honest here, my car doesn’t scare me quite the way a snake does). Also I have three small kids, how do I prevent them coming into contact with snake by accidentally treading on one? I don’t want to be scared of snakes I just am :-)


Matt December 3, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Srry brodie… My post is coming soon. I have finals this week so I haven’t had much time to make the long post that I want to. i am about 2/3 done with the post[ its pretty long!] and will try to finish it tm or the next day. Hope your enjoying iron range… I’ve heard its a beautiful and awesome park and chilli beach is awesome.


BobinOz December 2, 2010 at 12:58 am

Okay everybody, you heard what Matt said. If you are going to make long comments, break them down into small little bite-size pieces otherwise it really does get quite confusing. That’s what Matt’s doing now.

He’s written a few words and now he’s gone for a lie down. When he comes back, he’s going to write a few more words. In the meantime, if we can all be patient and not add any more comments in case it breaks up his flow, that’d be good.

Is that okay Matt?


Matt November 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Brody if your going to write a really long post can you please next time separate it into either 2 or 3 posts… the really long posts can sometimes be a bit confusing to read.

I am glad that you replied and am looking forward to debating you. I quickly glanced over your post[ its 2 in the morning] and noticed some things that I agree with and others that I dont. I am not some annoying troll who doesn’t know what he is talking about… I do know what I am talking about and do have experience and most importantly I have extensively done research on snakes.and have read countless studies on snakebites from various types of snakes. I also know people who have done molecular studies on snake venoms and their proteins. The snakebite studies that I have read strongly indicate to me that asian snakebites cause the most severe symptoms[ of course their are many factors that contributed to this etc]. When I first got into snakes/herpetology I to was fascinated with Australian snakes and how they are the so called “deadliest in the world/have the most potent venoms etc.” Then when I started to read studies/accounts of bites etc I started to question this and eventually came to the conclusion that the ld50 for mice is irrelevant to humans[ and irrelevant to any other animal but a mouse]. Not to mention the ld50 test hasn’t been tested on numerous snakes. Many snakes are missing from it and who knows how toxic their venoms would be[to mice that is] Also snakes from different geographic locations can have very different venoms and toxicity can vary alot even if it is the same type of snake. A naja naja from east India may very well have more/less toxic venom[ to mice] than a naja naja from west India, or south India or Sri Lanka or Pakistan or Nepal etc. Their is not a set ld50 value for a given snake because their is a huge amount of variation in a venom of a particular snake across its geographic range. I just read something the other day that stated that Eastern Browns from Queensland were found to possess a considerably more potent venom than Eastern Browns from South Australia. The ones form Queensland also had a large yield etc and the venom potency from both the Queensland and SA eastern browns varied slightly by season[ more toxic in early spring I believe, through I dont remember]

As for the rest of your post I will have to address it either tomorrow or the next day[ its 2 in the morning in America right now] I would appreciate it if you would let me respond to your post before replying or making another post. I also want to make it clear that I do believe that the taipan family[ Coastal/Papuan, Inland] is top 2 in the world for drop for drop potency to humans[ Land Kraits and Taipans being top 2 and I am not sure on who is number 1] My qualm is with people stating that the eastern brown is the number 2 drop for drop to humans and that the various tiger snakes are top 1-10 and the commonly stated “myth”[ well atleast in my opinion] that Australian snakes are either the deadliest or have the most drop for drop potent venoms. I am also very sorry for your friends aswell… That is a very sad and tragic thing but at least they died doing something that they loved to do.


Brodie November 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Hi Matt,

Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. But, as I am a herpetologist, I spend most of my time in the field, studying these animals. NOT arguing on a computer screen. I have just come back from a 5 week field trip to Vietnam.

I am off to Iron Range tomorrow, and really don’t have the energy to argue with someone who obviously has a limited knowledge of snakes. I suppose you feel smart because you googled snakes and found some latin names? Perhaps you should start keeping a personal diary? You seem to rant a fair bit. Helps to get those feelings out…..

Yes, LD50 is tested on mice. Do you know why? Venom components such as 3ftx and some other nasty neurotoxins generally work the same way on the cells of most mammals.

You are right however, no credible herpetologists rely on the LD50 alone. This is because modern venom researchers test venom components on REAL human cells. Have you bothered to contact any Universities and ask for toxicology literature? Or, do you merely keep a few pet snakes and believe all of what you have read on the internet? sad! The LD50 leaves us wanting, but, the fact remains that it gives us a relatively accurate indication of toxicity.
The fact is, the more dangerous Aussie snakes (most Pseudonaja, some Pseudechis, all Acanthophis, and Oxyuranus can kill you very quickly, and, if you survive, sometimes you never fully recover. Even Hoplocephalus spp, some Cryptohpis and even some Suta have recently been found to pack a very powerful punch! There is a good chance you will die from the bite of a 60cm Suta Suta if you dot seek medical attention! Go and find some modern literature, and you will learn just how dangerous these animals can be!

The Banded Krait of India can kill up to two dozen men in one bite., the Inland Taipan however, can kill over 100 people with one bite. Please provided a credible reference for your statement that is drop for drop the most venomous snake to humans.

In regards, Yes, there are great hospitals in some of the developed areas. However, almost ALL snake bite victims in Asia, are generally very poor and live in remote farming areas. Making modern medical treatment almost impossible. Ever tried driving through Vietnam during the monsoon season? It tooks us 6 days to travel from our base camp, through farming country and small villages before we got to the first decent sized town that actually had a small medical clinic (no antivenin, or respirators) and fuel available. We only had to travel 200km…. The majority of people living in Asia, have no idea about the basics of snake bite first aid, and subsequently, the victims often die before they reach hospital. This is not an indication of the toxicity of said animals, but enforces the point that these people do NOT have access to Medical Facilities. Even then, to find one with an adequate stockpile of antivenin is rare.

I Have spent a lot of my life throughout Asia and PNG. I have spent HUNDREDS of hours in Asian/PNG hospitals, watching people die from snakebite. A Decent bottle of antivenin legally obtained is as much as $5000 per vial.($15000-20000 on the black market) When you need 3-4 vials of this for just one patient, do you really think Hospitals have enough to treat all snakebite victims? Many remote hospitals treat hundreds (yes literally) of snake bite victims per day. Even the large hospitals can afford very few vials of antivenin. On one November day in PNG, we managed to obtain 6vials of CSL antivenin, kindly donated by the Australian reptile park.. All of it was used within 8minutes of arrival, on four victims. There were 86 confirmed bites that day.. These people haven’t got a hope in hell. It is unbearable watching people die, knowing that all you can do is hold their hand, to provide at least some level of comfort.

I have watched two very close friends die within minutes of being bitten by snakes in Australia. Hartley was bitten by a 3ft (very small) Eastern Brown, and he died in two minutes. I applied his pressure bandage, and ran to the car about 500m to come and pick him up. BY the time I got back, he was dead. My best mate, Tom, died in 26 minutes after being bitten by a large Coastal Taipan. I wont tell the story because it brings back terrible memories. The uni had to scrap that car, it was covered in vomit and bloody diarrhoea which we could not remove.. Suprisngly, such quick deaths are more common than you think. Venom composition changes dramatically within the SAME species, varying on age, season and geographical location. Get bitten by the wrong snake, on the wrong day.. Not pretty. Thankfully, Australian snakes generally inject minute amounts of venom for defensive purposes. Everyone in Australia knows how to apply a broad pressure bandage, and most have easy access to world class hospitals. (at the most, 8 hours away, if you apply appropriate first aid when bitten, you can go as long as 24 hours before irreversible damage occurs) Our taxes pay for HUGE stocks of antivenin. Not so in 3rd world asia mate.

Perhaps you should actually travel to the countires I am talking about, and see what life is really like there? Speak to some venom researchers, speak to the poor Drs who have to watch thousands of these poor people die every year, simply because they cannot provided adequate treatment. Venom in Asian snakes is largely myotoxic and cytotoxic, which a respirator is completely useless for. The best they can do for these people is offer strong, opiate based pain killers to make them more comfortable
Here is some further reading for you

When I come back, I will put some effort into a decent argument, and will provide pdf. Access to thousands of research papers on venomous snakes.,

Please provided references for this statement?
“Snakes from say India simply have much more potent and nastier venoms to humans than do Australian snakes. Studies of bites clearly show this”

Also, I know Brian Bush very well. He however has no formal training. He is the first to admit he is not highly regarded amongst professional herpetologists. He is simply doing his bit in the hope that he can get people to respect and admire snakes. Most still have an irrational fear!

Its important to realize that just because we have the most venomous snakes in the world, that they are not the mostly likely to kill. They are generally very shy and rarely bite!

Sorry my post is ill constructed and I am sure it is full of bad grammar and spelling errors, I haven’t slept in a couple of days!

Keep up the great work Bob :)


BobinOz November 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm

This is a tough one! Two people discussing snakes, which one do I trust? Matt or Brodie? Brodie or Matt? Errrrr……

Brodie, of course!

Thank you for the insights into your world Brodie, sounds fascinating, a little scary at times and often heartbreaking. And talking of scary, I think you have managed to scare the pants off a few people thinking of moving to Australia, and me a bit. My first real wild snake encounter was with a 3 foot brown, I took a video of it, you can see it by clicking to my post Snakes in Australia: My First Real Live Encounter.

Maybe I shouldn’t have chased him with my camera after all?


Mike August 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Hi. I know I’m coming late to the discussion but I would like your opion on a couple of things. I personally prefer clinical studies on snake bite victims to determine deadlines rather than LD50. LD50 values can change in the same species due to age/locality/health/etc. and may or may not be applicable to humans. From what I researched, the Black Mamba and Coastal Taipan have the highest untreated mortality rate at near 100%. In comparison, the Eastern Brown has a 10-20% untreated mortality rate but is considered the #2 toxic land snake. I’ve never heard of a snake causing a death in 2 minutes unless an allergic reaction to venom came into play? As far as I know the fastest recorded death time is around 15 minutes by a King Cobra. Of course when it comes down to it a good dose of venom from an Eastern Brown, Black Mamba, King Cobra or any toxic elapid and some of the more toxic vipers will most likely cause death if left untreated. I would like your thoughts. Deadliness is subjective and it is quite controversial to say which is the deadliest snake on a one on one encounter.


BobinOz August 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm

From the point of view of a human, rather than a mouse, the untreated mortality rate is a much more useful statistic than the LD50 values. But as science hasn’t yet plumbed the depths of enforcing snakebites on humans and timing how long it takes before they pop their clogs, we have to rely on anecdotal evidence.

So I can see why LD50 is used, although I’m sure many mice see it differently. But it is also because LD50 is used that we have this quite passionate debate over which snakes are and which aren’t the most venomous.

And no, it’s never too late to join the discussion. Cheers Mike!


Mike August 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Thank you. I see the main debate is Asia vs. Australia for deadliest snake title so I thought I’d throw in a heavy weight contender from Africa(Black Mamba). There are different ways I’ve seen used to determine “deadly”.
1 Toxicity alone based on LD50(mice).
2 Mortality rates-toxicity+venom yield+fang length+temperment(willingness to bite and envenomate)+venom composition(fast acting vs. slow acting)
3 Sheer number of deaths-factors mentioned in #2+range+proximity to people+local health care/antivenom supplies.
At the end of the day, no venomous snake should be underestimated as some snakes considered to be non lethal like the North American Copperhead have caused a few fatalities in healty adults. Some other African snakes to consider are the Cape Cobra, Puff Adder(causes the most serious/lethal bites across africa) and the Saw-Scaled Viper(has a smaller range in Africa but they are also found in the Middle East and Asia. They are thought to cause the most snake bite deaths world wide).


BobinOz August 31, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Asia vs. Australia for deadliest snake is not the main debate, it was mainly a crusade of Matt who has seemed to have lost interest.

Out of your list of three, I think number one is least useful to us humans. Number three was, by and large, Matts main argument as to why Asia was more dangerous than Australia.

But according to the LD50 theory, Australia has something like seven or 8/10 of the world’s most venomous snakes, but not the death rate to go with it. That’s because we have antivenom and helicopters.

But you are right, no venomous snake should be taken lightly. Fortunately for us, they tend to keep themselves to themselves, especially in this country.


Mike September 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Very true. I’m hoping Matt comes back. I would like him to shed some light as to why he puts Kraits at the top venomous to people. Clinical studies puts the Indian Common Kraits untreated mortaly rate as high as 77%. This is extremely high but still falls short compared the the Black Mamba/Coastal Taipan near 100% untreated mortality rate and krait venom typically takes longer to kick in. There have been no recorded deaths caused by the Inland Taipan but I’m sure their bites would be extremely serious. There is a theory that the Black Mamba and Coastal Taipan may be related by convergent evolution. Black Tapian?, Coastal Mamba? I like the untreated mortality rates to judge deadliness myself as they are based on one on one encounters and without treatment shows the natural effect of the venom on a human and gives an indication of what snake is more likely to inflict a lethal bite. Thank you for your feed back.


BobinOz September 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm

My pleasure. For me, the only problem with the untreated mortality rate method is that the injected venom is unmeasured and the size and weight of the human is probably not taken into account. So results aren’t strictly accurate, but probably still more meaningful than the mice test.


Mike September 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm

That is true. It also doesn’t consider the type of bite(subcutaneous, intramuscular, intravenous), where the bite or bites occurred(was it a minor bite to a finger or a solid bite to a thigh) so it does have it’s limitations. But for me it does give a general indication of “deadly”.


BobinOz November 24, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Matt, I just can’t see the point of your crusade. You’re obsessed! And the rest of us are bored.


Matt November 24, 2010 at 8:03 am

Its more of the fact that I am passionate against people who push bullcrap and incorrect information. Since Australians do this like no other… then I guess I am passionate against them lol. Pretty much every australian venomous animal is highly overrated and overhyped and doesnt even come close to comparing to venomous animals of south asia. Australian snakes are nowhere near as toxic nor dangerous as Asian snakes and yet you constantly hear incorrect info being said about them being the most venomous and most dangerous., It is garbage and factually incredibly wrong.


BobinOz November 14, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Have you finished Matt?

You seem to be getting a little hot under the collar, I get the sense that you are quite passionate about this subject. But I’m not sure whether you’re passionate about people understanding snakes or passionate about bashing Australians. Here are five of your quotes that I find insulting:

….but I dont like the fact that Australians stupidly over-hype all their animals as if it makes them cool or tough or something

No bob Australians are clearly the ones who put forth this false crap about their snakes and animals being the most dangerous

Then I have to go on and explain to them how stupid they (Australians) are

…..if any of those sensational Australians would actually read studies on snake bites from Australia, Africa, Asia… they would actually be knowledgeable on snakes and not sound stupid.

Australians seem to love bragging about their so called “dangerous animals”

So if you want to talk about snakes and toxicity, then fine. If you want to bash Australians, go somewhere else. You nailed it when you said “….but I came across as an ass.

You still are coming across that way. It is possible to debate this subject without being so objectionable. Try it! Or do you think being this aggressive makes YOU “cool or tough or something”?


Matt November 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm

As for me being a tosser lol. I probably know 100x more about venomous snakes that you do..No credible herpetologist believes that the mice ld50 test has anything to do with how toxic a snake is to humans. Its just Australians trying to overhype and overrate their snakes so that they sound tough and cool to the rest of the world.. The truth is that Australian snakes have far less toxic venoms than do say Asian snakes and they are also far less aggressive and shyer. So stop putting out the Australian bs out about their snakes being the most toxic drop for drop because they aren’t and modern studies on bites from venomous snakes show that Australian snakes may be the most venomous to mice but they are NOT the most venomous to humans…. not even close Asian snakes are.


Matt November 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm

And here is the full ld50 chart[ rank of venom toxicity to mice] if anyone wants to see.. Of course you have to factor in venom yield and fang length and venom yield[ vipers almost always have larger fangs and higher venom yields than elapids] and the fact that it is tested in MICE which are not humans!!! Some of the info is incorrect aswell. For instance bungarus caeruleus gets a .365 under the subcutaneous score but a recent study just showed that it actually has an ld50 of .22 meaning that the venom sample in the first test was probably diluted and less powerful then it really is. The lower the score the more toxic[ to mice]

Here is for subcutaneous injection[ under the skin]

And here is for Intravenous injection[ Iv injection which is possible in a snakebite through generally rare]


Matt November 13, 2010 at 8:32 pm

“The reason Asian and some African snakes, such as the infamous Russells Viper (Viper russelli) and the Saw-Scaled Vipers (Echis spp.) kill so many people (Upwards of 5,000 deaths per year have been recorded), is because of the high population density, extreme poverty and lack of modern or any Medical Treatment.”

Yes those are definitely reasons that explain the high death rate… But still the majority of hospitals in Asia[ not sure about Africa] are equipped with anti venom and modern treatment like respirators[ machines for dialysis incase the patients kidney’s fail etc] and yet they still have the huge death tolls. Snakes from say India simply have much more potent and nastier venoms to humans than do Australian snakes. Studies of bites clearly show this and no credible herpetologist puts any credibility and faith into those stupid ld50 mice tests at all.. Why is that you may ask? Well simply because ever different animal has a different ld50 for snake venoms. The ld50 rankings of snake venoms to mice is… only applicable to mice… Saying that a taipan has the msot toxic venom to mice… so it automatically has the most toxic venom to all other animals and humans is absolutely idiotic and completely ridiculous.. All animals have different ld50 ratings for snake venom’s and the only accurate way to find out which snakes are the most toxic to humans would be to either test snake venom’s on humans or on chimps[ obviously impossible] So the only thing you can do to get a fair gauge as to which are the most toxic is to read studies on bites and the so called most venomous Australian snakes dont even come close to comparing to deadly Asian snakes.


Mike August 28, 2011 at 11:58 pm

I agree that the LD50 test may not be applicable to people and even if it is it does not take in the overall affect of a bite(fang length, venom yield, temperment,etc.) and often contradicts mortality rates because of this. I’d like to know how you think a Black Mamba compares to Asian snakes on a one on one encounter. As far as I know it along with the Coastal Taipan have the highest untreated mortality rates in the world. Let me know how you came to the conclusion that Asia has the most toxic snakes to people. I don’t see how this can be said as tests are not done on people so we don’t know with absolute certainty what the most toxic snake is or where it comes from.


Matt November 13, 2010 at 8:25 pm

“Matt – Complete T*sser! Drop for Drop, Australian Snakes are much deadly than those of anywhere else in the world. However, because of our huge country and tiny population, bites are very rare. With modern and easily accessible medical treatment, deaths are even rarer!

Completely untrue… Australian snakes are not the most venomous to humans its a myth and a joke when you actullay read studies on snake bite on humans. Australian snakes occupy 6 of the top 10 most venomous snake to mice… but mice are NOT humans and humans react way differently to toxins than mice do… The only way to figure out which snakes are the most toxic to humans is either to test it on humans[ obviously impossible] or to read studies of snake bites and then evaulate the severity of the bite from the particular snake[ considering antivenom medical treatment etc] and then guestimate based on what you have read. I have read numerous studies on snake bites from australian snakes and asian snakes bites and the australian snakes werent even comparable.

Heres a good article from an actual credible Australian herpetologist[ and most Australian herpetologists are fools] explaining the myth of Australia’s so called most venomous snakes.

The snake with the most drop for drop toxic venom to humans are the Kraits..


BobinOz November 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Hi Brodie

Well I’m glad you have stumbled upon my blog, it’s good to have someone in here who does know what they’re talking about when it comes to snakes. Which leads me to a small confession.

Yes, I did suspect that the King Brown or Mulga Snake was in some way different from the Eastern/Common Brown Snake, but I wasn’t really sure how. I had somehow formed the opinion in my head that perhaps a Mulga Snake was just a much bigger Common Brown Snake.

On that then, I am obviously wrong. And to be perfectly honest, the reason I have not attempted to explain the difference clearly to my readers is because I really didn’t know what the difference was. So I thank you for pointing it out.

And your explanation for why Asian and some African snakes claim so many more lives compared to our Australian snakes makes perfect sense. More sense than Matt made with any of his rants, so thanks for clearing that up too.

And I think that’s great, “the worlds deadliest snake is the one that just bit you!”

hehe! That’s very true.


Brodie November 4, 2010 at 12:04 am

Hi mate,

Just stumbled on your blog. I have been involved in professional herpetology all of my adult life. I have walked into many pubs to ask about snakes. Usually, this question is met with a lot of negativity, irrational fear and outright lies (Taipans breeding with Carpets, creating a super venomous, 10m snake, etc). It’s great to see someone with your attitude and dedication to education.

I am sure you are aware that the King Brown or Mulga Snake (Pseudechis australis) and the Eastern/Common Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textillis) are very different animals. The paraphrasing you use gives the reader the impression that they are the same animal! Just thought I would clear this up for some of your readers! This does not detract from the quality of your blog at all, however!

Pseudechis are the black snakes. For example: Red Bellied blacks (P. porphyriacus), Collets Snake (P. colleti). the Spotted/Blue bellied black snake (P. guttatus) and the recently described Pygmy Mulga Snake (P. weigeli). There is a lot of ongoing debate about the current taxonomy of Pseudechis spp. (particularily P. australis and P. weigeli) so we will no doubt see a few more species named in the near future.

Pseudonaja are the brown snakes. Like the famous Eastern/Common Brown (P. textillis), the Western Brown or Gwardar (P. nuchalis) and a few more!

Matt – Complete T*sser! Drop for Drop, Australian Snakes are much deadly than those of anywhere else in the world. However, because of our huge country and tiny population, bites are very rare. With modern and easily accessible medical treatment, deaths are even rarer!

The reason Asian and some African snakes, such as the infamous Russells Viper (Viper russelli) and the Saw-Scaled Vipers (Echis spp.) kill so many people (Upwards of 5,000 deaths per year have been recorded), is because of the high population density, extreme poverty and lack of modern or any Medical Treatment.

Having said that however, the worlds deadliest snake is the one that just bit you!


Mike April 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Hi Brodie! Hope you are doing well. I’d like yours and others thoughts on how you view the accuracy of LD50 tests. I’ve been doing some more research on Dendroaspsis Polylepis and found some interesting tidbits. In 2006 a 7,500lb adult Afriacn elephant named Eleanor was fataly bitten by a Black Mamba in a national reserve in Kenya. It is the only scientifically verified case of an adult elephant dying of snake bite. Well, that got me crunching the numbers based on its LD50(mice). The Black Mamba has an average venom yield of 100 to 120mg per bite and 10 to 15mg is considered lethal to an average size man. So say the LD is 12mg and the average man weighs 175lbs. Multiply that times 10 to get the venom yield of 120mg so the Black Mamba should only be capable of killing 1,750lbs in a bite. The elephant weighed 7,500lbs!!!!! By the way I like how you pointed out that population and medical facilities are factors in regards to the snakes that cause the most deaths. Before major farming started in Swaziland, It was estimated that Black Mambas killed around 11 people per year. In a recent study(published in Swaziland news 2010) due to the increased population and poor medical facilities, there are now an average of 30 deaths per year caused by the Black Mamba in Swaziland alone!!! This goes a long way to prove your point.


Col B. April 6, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Hi Mike. Just need to throw in a point regarding your post. The Elephant that died from a Black Mamba snake may have had a weak ailment of some kind. Based on a lot of these largest living land creatures versus a miniscule type of poison. It is a tad hard to believe that the latter would always kill every Elephants bitten with the same amount. To make an example of this, a lot of Humans have different allergies, that a certain miniscule of poison would kill one of the sufferers who is allergic to it. Another point is that a specie, say, the Black Mamba, can be among 1 or 2 per cent of Black Mambas that may have an extreme stronger poison in its venom than its fellow members of the same breed, each on a scale that is not the same. All living forms of life have some degree of allergies of differing kinds. Each living lifeform of the same breed or specie have different eyesights, deafness or hearing, smells or, my twin brother always, yes, always gives off a smellier ‘deadly’ fart than l do!. Each in the same specie has something that differ on a scale from extreme weak to extreme strong, regardless of any sensory or any inner/outer organ’s state or even the state of the immune system. Nothing of the same is the same. All this has to be considered in sense.


Mike April 7, 2012 at 6:02 am

Thank you for your thoughts. I like how you say no 2 of the same species are exactly the same. This is another reason I believe the LD50 tests are limited. As far as Eleanor is concerned, she was reported to be in good health before the snake bite happened. There have been other “reports” of Black Mambas killing elephants, cape buffalo, rhinos and cows but this is the first “verified” case where scientists went out and documented the event.


BobinOz October 31, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Hi Melanie

Sounds like your first snake encounter, not so bad was it? Shiny brown is probably an eastern brown snake, which could potentially kill you. But generally speaking, they prefer to just slither away as you have seen for yourself.

The biggest danger is when you accidentally tread on a snake that you haven’t seen it and it will just flick round and give you a bite. So the important thing is to keep your eyes peeled, watch where you’re walking and tread heavily. The snake will feel the vibration as you approach and move away, generally speaking. Protective clothing obviously helps too.

And welcome to Australia, I like your attitude and hope you love it here as much as I do.


Melanie October 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I have found this very informative and reassuring. We have recently purchased 80 acres of land in the Adelaide Hills and are attempting to encourage natural revegetation and plant the appropriate trees. Last weekend whilst walking around checking my seedlings I noticed a shiny brown snake about 4 feet away from me out in the open sunning itself. I went “erk” and walked quickly the other way and he went “erk” and slithered off in the opposite direction. I was wearing thick jeans and knee high boots but I think I will add thick gloves to that ensemble when checking my trees. I’m not unduly worried, especially after reading your statistics, but will nevertheless be “alert but not alarmed” and would never want to harm a snake in any way.


BobinOz October 21, 2010 at 4:04 pm


YOU are the idiot. If you need proof, just read your last comment, it doesn’t even make sense. Sounds to me like the only conversations you’ve had with Australians about snakes is in your own head.

You are also clearly a troublemaker and probably racist. Go away, you’re not welcome here.


Matt October 21, 2010 at 6:57 am

No bob Australians are clearly the ones who put forth this false crap about their snakes and animals being the most dangerous. I dont know how many times I’ve been reading something about snakes when this idiot from Oz comes on and says “well Australia has by far the most dangerous snakes and 6, 7, 8, sometimes even 10 of the top 10 most venomous snakes are from oz” Then I have to go on and explain to them how stupid they are and how australian snakes are not even close to being the most venomous snakes and that venom toxicity to mice is completely useless to humans……and that snakes in oz are very secretive and shy…. The most dangerous snakes are Asian ones…. no question about it… and if any of those sensational Australians would actually read studies on snake bites from Australia, Africa, Asia… they would actually be knowledgeable on snakes and not sound stupid.

Australians seem to love bragging about their so called “dangerous animals” and everywhere you look you see this incorrect crap about how their snakes are so venomous and dangerous etc. People from other countries are certainly not the cause for this…. Australians are.


BobinOz October 20, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Well this is a nice little dingdong as my dad would have called it. We’ve all had our hackles up, we’ve all had our say, although I would just like to add that unless you are really looking for a fight, it’s not a good idea, Matt, to come into a blog and make a first comment accusing people of BS or a second one accusing Australians of being stupid.

But I live in hope, so perhaps we can all try to get along together now?

But looking at your comments, you’ve both raised interesting points that should be discussed. Firstly, I agree with you Matt that the reputation of Australia’s dangerous creatures is definitely worse than the reality and I also agree with Col B that it is not just Australians who perpetuate that idea. In fact I think it is more a case of the rest of the world describing Australia as the most extreme country to live in and the most venomous and dangerous. Australians who live here hardly talk about it or worry about it.

Well, that’s my view.


COL B. October 20, 2010 at 6:05 am

After replying to you last night ,Bob, I’d thought l’d check in the morning see if there’s something new here. Alas, there was. I must of Overlooked another comment made by Matt in which he posted before I did!. I see now it is me that he is targetting. Matt, If you’re going to take your anger out on me, I would see you as aggro fellow unless you are plain disappointed ( there’s a big difference between ‘Aggressive’ and ‘Disappointed’). If you look long enough and check out a
lot of websites on Snakes you’ll see a lot of conflicting
information and other stuffs on the subjects, most sites came from overseas researchers (or so-called ones). It is not just the Australians. Bit like the news we all read in the newspapers in which Journalists were either told by sources who thinks to know what they’re talking about, or a considerable number of Journalists themselves giving half lies as to sensationalize any given articles bestowed on us to ‘believe’ any incidents they print.
I am not “stupid” nor are other Aussies (as you dictates) or anybody else who get their informations from either true or false sources.
On the contrary, l also see Bob’s site as very unique.
For your information, apologizing only to just Bob is’nt good enough.


COL B. October 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Well l’m not even slightly impressed with a bully ‘cocking a gun’ at us, Bob. I think he’s actually referring to my comment and noticed your response below me as well. He does’nt belong here and l’m sure you won’t want a beer with a wild west cowboy with a chip on his shoulders and taking it out on you, aye!
Bob I’ve been surfing the web a lot on snakes over the last month and still researching more in order to scale it all down to the average level because l noticed that there are a lot of differences, conflictions, top ten charts differences and the diff ‘tween the words “Deadly”, ‘Dangerous”, and ‘Poisonous” and other useful studies. I shy away from researchers (or so-called ones) that use the word “Poisonous” The info I contributed in my previous post above (that the aggressive cowboy referred to) came from a book in 2001 that used the word “poisonous”. l did not notice it until a couple weeks ago. There is a big difference ‘tween the said three words, Bob.
So l’ll be still on the surfing for a while more. Then l’ll get back to you then. Cheers Bob.


Matt October 19, 2010 at 5:33 am

Lol I was taking a “pop” at colin… not you… I like australia and I like your blogs about australia…. but I dont like the fact that Australians stupidly over-hype all their animals as if it makes them cool or tough or something. Their snakes aren’t even half as dangerous as asian snakes.

Anyway just out of curousity…. How would you rate these cities [ Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide] for best to worst in terms of crime, best places to visit, and best place to live in/raise a family.

Thanks and I apologize for the the first post…. It was more target at colin and not at you. What I said was completely true but I came across as an ass.


Colleen June 6, 2011 at 8:24 am

G’day, I’m not trying to impress you, but I’m from Australia and yep, we’re so cool cause we’ve got all these dangerous animals here. Only a couple of meat-eaters though (Saltwater Crocodile and a shark or three), the rest are venomous creatures of some variety. And yes, that does make us cool and the rest of the world needs to deal with that.


BobinOz June 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm

…er, actually, we’re ‘cool and tough’ – hehe.


BobinOz October 18, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Wow! You’re aggressive aren’t you? If you were a snake, you’d live in India for sure. Did you actually read my post? In particular….

“Australian snakes are very shy and timid. They would rather move away from a human, not towards one” or…..

“Australia’s snakes rarely envenom when biting defensively” or…..

“Yes, Australia is home to some of the world’s most deadly snakes. But they are also some of the world’s most timid snakes. The worst countries in the world for snake deaths are Sri Lanka and India”.

Or from the comments above…..

“But I’d still rather have our snakes than those in India or the Philippines”

Or are you having a pop at Col B who has also commented above? Either way you could do with getting off your high horse, opening your eyes and realising that almost everybody who has commented here actually likes snakes. We are also aware of the misleading hype suggesting how dangerous Australian snakes are. We don’t need you to come barging in here to preach to the converted.

As for those mice tests, of course they’re stupid, unless of course, you are a mouse. In which case, take them very seriously indeed.


Matt October 18, 2010 at 10:38 am

Australian Snakes are so overrated and over hyped it isnt even funny. To even compare them to Indian or south asian snakes is a joke. And no australia does not have 7 of the top 10 most deadly snakes. It has 0 of the top 10. According to the mice toxicity test Australia has 6 of the top 10 most venomous snakes. But mice are completely different to humans and to claim that that means that australia has 6 of the top 10 most venomous snakes to humans is completely wrong and just plain stupid. The only way to tell how toxic a snake is to humans is to look at studies of snake bites on humans… The stupid mice tests are incredibly irrelevant. The toxic drop for drop snakes to humans would be the asian land kraits[ Bungarus] and the most dangerous snake[ as in most amount of people bitten and killed per year] is the russells viper. Asian snakes are really on a whole another level and to hear australians make stupid ignorant comments about their snakes being the most dangerous and deadly is really annoying. .

Heres a study on common krait bites. All patients went to the hospital and all received anti venom…. yet still 64 percent were paralyzed and needed to be put on a respirator to survive. The anti venom only worked if given within 3 hours….. now thats a dangerous snake

And here are some pictures of snake bites from various countries in Asia

So stop with the australian bs about snakes!!


Mike September 3, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Please let me know how you came to the conclusion that the Kraits are the deadliest/most toxic snakes to people. You mention that a person only has around 3 hours to get antivenom for it to be affective yet if a person got a good bite from a Black Mamba, Coastal Taipan or King Cobra they likely would be dead in that time period based on clinical studies. You said Australia has 0 out of 10 toxic snakes to people. Have you studied the clinical details for Coastal/PNG Taipans? Similar to the Black Mamba, they are quite aggressive/nervous when approached and rarely dry bite. I know that Australia dosen’t have nearly the amount of snake bite deaths as Africa or Asia but there are many factors that account for this, not just snake toxicity alone. From what I’ve researched the untreated mortality rates for the Black Mamba and Coastal Taipan are off the charts. I’ve also read studies that say Tiger Snake AV is more effective for treating Krait bites and I have communicated with a friend who lives in Asia around Kraits. He tells me that many people underestimate Krait bites and don’t seek treatment untill sever symptoms manifest which makes treatment much more difficult.


Mike September 4, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Here are medical details you should look into to compare with Krait bites. Quotes by Terence H. Davidson, M.D.
Black Mamba:(on top of thier neuro/cardiotoxic venom)
“Nephrotoxicity: Acute renal failure has been reported in a few cases of Black Mamba bites in humans as well as animal models. Oliguria or anuria with possible changes in urinary composition will herald the development of renal shutdown.” “Delay in administration or insufficiant dosages of antivenom may allow serious neurological symptoms and respiratory paralysis to manifest which may be very difficult to reverse once established. Serious envenomations will require full intensive care.” “Untreated Black Mamba bites are likely to be fatal.”
Coastal Taipan:
“Prior to the introduction of specific antivenom, the envenomation fatality rate was essentially 100%.” “Clinically, envenomations may represent a complex scenario of multiple organ system poisoning with neurotoxic symptoms typically dominating. Acute renal failure, Rhabdomyolysis, and Disseminated Coagulopathy may also complicate the setting.” “The development of general and/or respitory paralysis is of paramount concern in that these are often difficult to reverse once established, even with large amounts of antivenom.” So you can see it’s not only Krait bites that are difficult to treat once serious symptoms kick in. I agree that Krait bites are very serious but to say basically that the most serious bites are caused by Asian snakes and ignore other highly dangerous snakes in the rest of the world is incorrect.


BobinOz September 5, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I think Matt’s gone, haven’t heard from him in a long while. Sorry Mike.


Mike September 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm

It looks that way. I wanted to share the information with others as well to show that other snake bites are just as difficult to treat as Kraits. The two snakes I provided medical details for can be even harder to treat if renal complications occur. Even though bites from the Black Mamba and Coastal Taipan are rare, the consequences are extremely life threatening.


Col B. (Colin Burns) August 17, 2010 at 5:53 am

No worries, Bob.
Yes, the Taipan is an aggressive snake unlike the other Snakes of Australia but l swear I read somewhere that the FIERCE SNAKE is an aggressive reptile as well.
Also, the non-venomous Carpet Snake will aggressively lash and bite at you during its breeding season (around the early part of the year) even if you are twenty feet away they’ll try to bite you (in thin air) if you walk toward them and you’re bitten when you get closer within striking distance of its fangs. The only other times in the warm months that they’re aggressive and/or in fear is when threatened or cornered.
Other than that, on every other day, are docile.
Carpet snake normally won’t bite you when they feel like it otherwise its an isolated or rare incidence.
Trust me, Bob, I had two Carpet Pythons living on the rafters inside my little cabin in the bush. I understand their nature.


BobinOz August 19, 2010 at 12:27 am

Again, you got me having to Google to keep up. Seems the fierce snake is the inland taipan, he sounds nasty! Nastier than the other taipans.

I’ve also been told carpet python’s can give you a nasty bite if you catch them at the wrong time. Thank you for explaining the wrong times. But as you say, generally speaking they aren’t a problem. Like yourself, my friend has a carpet snake living in the rafters somewhere on his land. He saved me the snake skin when it shed it a while ago. You can see a picture of me holding it here…. carpet python snake skin.

I did see another quite large one I went camping in Mt Tambourine. You can see a picture of that snake here…. snake in rafters.

There’s a bit of a story to that one, he’s been living in the roof for years and never troubled anyone.

But as you say, don’t catch them on a bad day.

Thanks Colin.


BobinOz August 3, 2010 at 1:19 am

I’m with you all the way on this one Colin, why indeed? It’s one of those little rules I have made for myself, never pick up a snake. And as a testament to my own personal willpower, I’ve never broken the rule.

Having said that, it is good that we have people like Bruce George and other snake handlers around to remove snakes when they end up where they shouldn’t be. Otherwise we have to wait until they leave. If they’ve got inside your house somehow, that can make home life a little tense.

But yes, 7/10 for Australia is pretty good isn’t it? But I’d still rather have our snakes than those in India or the Philippines. Ours have more room to keep themselves to themselves, I think, and Taipan aside, they’re not too aggressive.


Col B. August 2, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Oh! by the way, the VIPER mentioned in my last top ten post deadliest snakes in the world is known as the TAIPAN.


Col B. August 2, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I tell myself “Why do I want to pick up a snake” when it’s not meant to be picked up anyway? I certainly would’nt like to be picked up as a fascination piece by an unpredictable King Kong! I’d probably do the momentary freak-out-and-shoot-him-in-the-head reaction if I had a gun on me!.
Here’s the deal: Abstain from picking a venomous snake up. It is’nt worth it even if you know what you’re doing.
Of the top ten deadliest snakes in the world, seven are located in Australia, with the other three being the KING COBRA of India at No.5; the DIAMONDBACK RATTLESNAKE of America at No.8 and the BLACK MAMBA of AFRICA at No.10.
For five of the seven most dangerous species making up positions 3,4,6,7 and 9 are the VIPER, DEATH ADDER, EASTERN BROWN SNAKE (not King Brown), TIGER SNAKE and COPPERHEAD. A specie of Australian SEA SNAKE (I’ve forgotten the proper name to it) is just outside the top ten at No.11 but anyway let’s move on to the top 2.
At No.2 is the Majestic KING BROWN. And the world’s most venomous snake? The near unknown and rarely seen FIERCE SNAKE which is found only in a pocket where the corner of SA, NSW and QLD border meets, that’s near the end of the first leg as you go from the back o’ Bourke. This snake, about 5 ft in length when fully grown, is a relative of the KING BROWN and EASTERN BROWN.
So here we have it. The fangsosphere has done it sharp!.


BobinOz April 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm

I didn’t know until I looked it up, but your Katipo Spider is the same as our red-back spiders. Very nasty bite that can kill, but hasn’t since the 70s, thanks to antivenom.

I’m going to pick up a snake one day myself so I can find out what it’s like too. I just need to find a snake…… and some courage!

Thanks for commenting Danya.



Danya April 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm


The only poisonous thing in New Zealand is the Katipo Spider, so no I don’t see snakes in my back yard which I am VERY happy of. I wouldn’t exactly hit it or anything like that, but I’d be VERY scared! haha.

When I first picked it up, it wasn’t at all what i thought it would feel like. I only remember it a little bit because it was when i was about 9 so it was a long time ago. I remember being surprised when it felt scaley, same as my parents and 5year old brother (at the time).

I really enjoy your work and it’s really cool.


Danya April 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Hey, My name is Danya. I’m 13 and I live across the ditch in New Zealand. Snakes do really fascinates me, and i hate it when all people want to do when they see them, is kill them. I have only been to Oz 7 times as one of my best friend lives there. I have held a small snake at Australia zoo and was lucky enough to go see Steve Irwins show, a few months before his death. I’ve only seen a snake once, never in the wild only at Australia Zoo, which makes them even more fascinating to me. I’m doing a school project on poisonous animals in Australia so you helped me quite a lot.

Thanks for the information!,


BobinOz April 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Hi Danya

It’s good to hear from you and I’m really pleased that you like snakes. That must have been really great to hold a snake over at the Australia zoo, I’ve never actually picked one up myself. I haven’t checked it out, but I imagine you don’t get too many snakes in New Zealand, or am I wrong?

I’ve only seen three snakes since I’ve been here in Australia, but only one of those was genuinely seen in the wild and it happened to be a poisonous eastern brown. You can see my post about my first real snake encounter here.

I’m glad you found some useful information here to do your school project. I hope you pass otherwise you might be able to blame me!




BobinOz March 28, 2010 at 9:11 pm

I sort of take your point. But what I am trying to say is people usually have an unreasonable fear of snakes. They are not that big a problem. You’ve got to be really unlucky to get nailed by a snake.

Yes, I’d rather be stuck in a room with a bee in it than in a room with a snake in it. I’m just trying to put people’s minds at rest by explaining how unlikely it is that you’d meet your maker following an encounter with a snake.


william somerville March 28, 2010 at 1:49 pm

People should not be less afraid of snakes than bees because bees kill more people than snakes.

A snake bite is far more likely to have unpleasant consequences that a bee sting, and close proximity to a snake is riskier than close proximity to a bee.

Your logic would suggest motor bikes are safer than cars because fewer motorcyclists are killed than car drivers. Actually they are 50 times more likely to die on a per trip basis.


BobinOz March 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Hi Shayne

It’s interesting that you, as an experienced snake handler, still understand and respect that a snake can be dangerous even when you know how to handle it. I’m not quite sure what you mean by the “unprovoked attacks” statistics but from what I understand, some people have been killed by snakes because they didn’t follow some basic rules. Like don’t try and pick one up if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t try to kill one just because it is there.

Example: if a snake enters the house I would suggest it would be foolish for an untrained person to try and catch or kill that snake. More sensible to just isolate the snake in the room and call a snake catcher.

All snake deaths count in Australia, as far as I’m aware, it’s just some could have been avoided if people had observed some basic rules.

I saw a TV programme about an American guy who got bitten by a rattlesnake and nearly died. He and his pal had driven up into the mountains with a few cans of beer and were on their way back home in the car when he spotted the rattlesnake by the side of the road. They stopped the car, he got out and tried to catch it so he could keep it as a pet.

I don’t know the bloke personally, but for me, he is an idiot!




Mike April 6, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I think the American was Pippin Graves. He tried to pick up a rattlesnake and got bitten on the hand. DR. Shawn Bush who treated him said it was the worst case of rattlesnake envenomation he had ever seen. He had to administer the largest dose of antivenom on a person ever to get him breathing. Even after that his arm and hand were a complete mess and he had to have extensive surgery. Sometimes idiots get what idiots deserve.


BobinOz April 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I think he wanted to take it home as a pet, or something? Sounds like the snake had other ideas. Hopefully, next time he drives past a rattlesnake, he will just carry on driving.


Mike April 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm

The show this case was on is called Venom 9 Ways to Die. They never said why he decided to try to pick up a rattlesnake and I don’t know what would possess anyone to do that. They had an interview with him while they were repairing his damaged arm and I think he learned his lesson, especially when he sees the hospital bill!!!!


BobinOz April 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm

The program I watched, I think, was called something like “I’ve been bitten”. It was a hot day and he’d driven up into the mountains with a friend to drink a few tinnies and cool down. I think he must have drunk a few too many, because it was driving back when he stopped to pick up the snake.

Does that sound like the same guy?


Mike April 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm

I’m not sure. The show I saw didn’t detail the events that led up to the bite only the aftermath. You may be surprised that there a quite a few instances of people trying to pin/catch rattlesnakes for whatever reason and many serious bites happen because of this. A lot of people underestimate rattlesnake venom potency/strike speed and think there not very dangerous but in reality their bites are horrendous. If you get a chance, check out a segment of I Was Bitten on youtube where a snake handler gets careless with his monocled cobra.


BobinOz April 15, 2012 at 12:58 am

I think I’ve seen that one too!

Anyway, looks like we were watching different programs about the guy who picked up the rattlesnake. Maybe it was the same guy though, milking his 15 minutes of “fame”.


Shayne March 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I am an Aussie from New South Wales, used to have a reptile keeper’s licence and have had a few non venomous snakes, including a very large carpet python. They are truly the most interesting things. You never really get over the inbuilt fear, I always broke out in a sweat when I handled my snakes even after several years. Got rid of the snakes when my girl got pregnant (sorry preggers) for obvious reasons. It is interesting to note that most snakebite statistics only talk about “unprovoked attacks”. It seems that in Oz if you are an idiot and you get killed we don’t bother counting you….


Emily October 19, 2009 at 4:55 am

I’ve just stumbled across your blog, particularly your posts on snakes…I’m a 16 year old girl who is fascinated by these creatures (I actually keep reptiles – currently have 2 central bearded dragons and 2 Centralian Pythons) It’s refreshing to find someone who’s take on snakes isn’t “KILL KILL KILL”. I often get people purposefully trying to stir me up with “the only good snake is a dead snake”. I’ve had the opportunity to get up close and photograph some of our most venomous snakes, and they are breath taking! If people stopped, and took a step back, they might be able to see them from or point of view…Reading your posts I agree whole-heartedly, and am happy to find someone willing to do research on what’s around them. You’ve given me a little more hope in the human race :)


BobinOz October 19, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Hey Emily

Glad you found my site, it’s always nice to hear from someone who has something good to say about snakes, they get too much of a bad press. They are scarier in people’s heads than they are in real life. It’s the people who try to kill snakes that often come off worse. I say just let them be.

Most of the people I meet have the “KILL KILL KILL” attitude too, but fortunately I have also met one or two who have helped me to see their beauty and have shown me there is a different, better reaction and that is to let the snakes just get on with their own lives.

I’d love to hear some of your snakes stories and see some of those pictures and feature them here on this blog. If you’re interested, just send me an email via the contact form.




BobinOz September 22, 2009 at 1:53 am

I am not surprised by what you say, Bruce comes across as the real deal on TV too, a genuine bloke who really does care. And if what he wants to achieve is to show people that snakes are not scary, he’s doing a great job!

It is thanks to the work of people like Bruce that people like me become interested in snakes, want to know more about snakes and start to appreciate the beauty of snakes. When we know about snakes and understand them, we have no reason to fear them.

I have only seen one snake in the wild since I’ve been here in Australia, just one in two years, and that was in the botanical Gardens. It was only a little carpet snake and I was fortunate enough to be with my mate Ben who loves all wildlife including snakes. It was him who noticed it and called me over to take a closer look. We just looked and admired it.

It’s far more enjoyable than freaking out!

I hope Bruce does some more shows, I want to learn more, like how do you pick them up like that?




Bruce Larsen September 21, 2009 at 8:32 pm

I have known Bruce George for many years and just to reinforce what you said about this bloke, he is very genuine in what he does with snake rescues. You only have to see how he goes about the ones he cares for at home to understand how much he really cares. The show was an opportuntiy to show people that snakes are not that scary.


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