Can You Identify These Venomous Snakes From Their Pattern?


By: Jonnathan Chadwick

7 Min Quiz

Image: Mark Kostich / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The easiest way to know whether a snake poses a threat is to know whether it's a snake. If it's a snake, then it can pose a threat. You shouldn't pet it. But in real life, it's very possible to get bitten first and see second. Snakes are lighting-quick strikers designed to slither undetected. Not only that, most of them specialize in ambush hunting, which means they lie undetected until you step near them, and then they strike. Before you can say "what the," they're slithering away. Before you can get help, you need to know whether it was a brown snake or a black snake.

The difference between antivenoms can be the difference between life and death, and that's where recognizing snake patterns comes in handy. Australia's king brown snake, for example, is technically a black snake, but it looks brown. But if you can recognize the coloration of its scales, you'll know it's not a true brown snake and black snake antivenom will work best. 

So how well do you know snake patterns? There are spots, stripes, bands, blotches, speckles, rings and diamonds. Even the uniform-colored snakes differentiate with smooth or keeled scales, solid or faded colors, dull or iridescent hues and whatever else Mother Nature decided to do. There are more than 3,000 snake species in the world, and about 600 of them are venomous. Can you identify these venomous snakes from their pattern?

Do you know this common American snake once thought to be non-venomous?

These snakes are so common in America they're often incorrectly called gardener snakes and they're one of the few snakes to live all over New England. They've even been recognized as the state reptile of Massachusetts since 2006.


Can you name this royal highness of the snake world?

A king cobra can stretch 18 feet long, and a cobra of that length can stand six feet in the air before it attacks. They don't spit, like some cobras, but they smell with their tongue, and they hiss and growl to warn encroachers.


What's the name of this venomous predator with an inky mouth?

Black mambas get their name from their black mouths, and they're some of the deadliest and speediest snakes on the planet. An untreated black mamba strike will cause fatality within hours, and these creatures can slither faster than 12 mph.


This is considered the most venomous snake on the planet. What is it?

It is said that a single bite from this notorious snake can cause fatality in 100 adult humans. Luckily, it isn't an aggressive animal, and like most snakes, it will run for cover when confronted by humans. Nevertheless, an untreated bite is fatal rather quickly.


Do you know this type of krait?

There are several types of krait slithering around the planet, and the many-banded krait is the most venomous of them all. It envenoms at a highly successful rate, and antivenom fails to prevent fatality in about half of victims.


This snake gets its name from its underbelly. Do you know it?

The yellow-bellied sea snake is one of the most poisonous and widespread on Earth, but very few human fatalities have been reported. Despite its potent venom, it doesn't have a great injection technique, like most sea snakes, so bite victims are usually spared the toxins.


Can you name this 'Big Four' snake responsible for 25,000 deaths a year?

The four deadliest snakes in India have been given the designation of the "Big Four," and Russell's viper is the deadliest of them all. It's wildly aggressive and recklessly fast, claiming 25,000 lives a year.


What's the name of this highly dangerous green and black snake?

Boomslangs can open their jaws almost perfectly flat when striking, allowing them to latch on to victims with venomous fangs in the back of their jaw. Its venom causes internal bleeding and is fatal without treatment, but this snake only strikes when provoked.


Do you know this snake that is abundant in Florida?

You can find these snakes all over the southeast U.S. as well as some parts of Arizona and Texas, and although they're highly venomous, their injection techniques aren't that great. They can't inject all their venom in a single bite, and they can't control how much they inject.


This snake is said to be responsible for the most snakebites in America. Do you know it?

The western diamondback isn't the most venomous rattlesnake and isn't even as dangerous as the eastern diamondback, but it's responsible for a lot of bites because of its aggressiveness. They don't slither away from humans, they confront them.


This is considered America's deadliest snake. Can you name it?

When many people think of snakes in America, they think the southwest desert, but the swamps of the southeast are home to the country's deadliest, including the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, which is the largest venomous snake in the country.


Can you name this deadly snake known for roaming the Australian outback?

The death adder is one of the deadliest snakes in the world, and no snake in Australia has longer fangs. It has an efficient delivery system and untreated bites prove fatal to humans within hours. It also has a lightning-fast strike.


What's the name of this snake known for biting people in the American southeast?

Copperheads have great camouflage, so when being approached, their No. 1 defense tactic is to remain still. They can be almost invisible and are easily stepped on, which is why there are so many copperhead bites in the U.S. each year. They have rather weak venom, however.


Do you know Australia's largest venomous snake?

The mulga snake shares a name with the shrub and parrot that also dot Australia's outback, but it's also known as the king brown snake. Its bites are very treatable, but victims need to be treated with black snake antivenom. This king brown snake is not a true brown snake.


What's the name of this aquatic krait?

Sea kraits, sea snakes, eels and any arm- and leg-less slithering sea creature gets lumped into the same category, but sea kraits and sea snakes are actually different. Sea snakes are fully aquatic while kraits are only semiaquatic.


Can you name this common North American snake also known as a water moccasin?

The cottonmouth is one of the big four snakes in the United States, and you can find them all over the southeast. They love swamps and marshes and are also known as swamp moccasins. Their venom kills tissue cells but is seldom fatal.


Do you know this rattlesnake found slithering around the Midwest?

The massasauga is also known as a prairie rattlesnake, and it covers middle America from Canada to Mexico. They are always tan with a combination of blotches and spots. These snakes avoid humans at all costs, but since attacks are so rare, so is the antivenom. Untreated bites can be fatal.


This snake gets its name from a unique set of eye scales. Can you name it?

These small snakes can feature a wide range of colors and patterns from neon yellow and pink to tan and green with brown speckles or blotches. The most consistent feature are the "eyelashes," which are oddly-shaped scales. Snakes don't have eyelids or eyelashes.


Can you name this bright green snake that is rarely ever seen?

The green mamba lives in the jungles of central Africa and although it's glowing green, it's rarely seen. It might be because it blends in with the jungle greenery so well, and if you do see one, you want to stay well clear of it.


What's the name of this Australian snake banded with stripes?

Tiger snakes are some of the most venomous slithering around Australia, and they feature a wide range of colors and patterns but are frequently seen with a banded pattern similar to tiger stripes. Only the brown snake is deadlier in the area.


Do you know this South American snake that is one of the world's heaviest vipers?

Bushmasters are one of the largest vipers on Earth and they are found in Central and South America, where they are the longest venomous snake in the area. There are three types of bushmaster snake and they are all venomous, although they rarely attack humans.


Can you name this multicolored snake that is both poisonous and venomous?

Although many people use venomous and poisonous interchangeably, they mean different things. A venomous animal can inject you with toxin. A poisonous animal can't inject you, but you will be affected if you touch the animal. A toad is poisonous. A snake is venomous. This snake is both.


What's the name of this aerial glider?

These snakes don't have wings and can't really fly, but the way they fling themselves through the air and glide from tree branch to tree branch is remarkable. They contain small amounts of venom not harmful to humans.


Can you name this snake that gets its name from its spiky scales?

This viper is found in Central Africa and it has many names all surrounding its unique look, but its official name is atheris hispida. They're pretty elusive snakes that do their best to stay away from humans, and not much is known about their bite except it's fatal.


This is one of the deadliest snakes in the sea. Do you know it?

It's believed that nine out of every 10 deaths that occur from a sea snake bite come at the hands of the beaked (aka hooked-nose) sea snake. It is also believed the beaked sea snake accounts for more than half of all sea snake bites.


Do you know this African snake that features a pair of devlish spikes?

This north African snake appears in a wide range of colors and patterns, but it's most known for the two "horns" above its eyes. They sidewind when they slither, and 40 mg of their venom can be be deadly to humans.


Can you name this coastal viper mostly found in Brazil?

Golden lanceheads are native to Brazil and they don't live anywhere close to humans, so bites rarely occur, if ever. Being a lancehead, its venom is deadly and it's considered one of the most dangerous snakes in the country.


What's the name of this speedy snake native to Australia?

Australians are very familiar with brown snakes, and although the western brown may not be as deadly as the eastern brown snake, it is still highly fatal. Like most snakes, these snakes will leave you alone unless you corner them.


Do you know this Central American snake that means "spearhead" in French?

The fer-de-lance has a multitude of names and it's found slithering around Mexico, Central America and northern South America. It is considered the most dangerous snake in all those areas. The goliath spider, which is the world's largest spider, sometimes attacks the snake.


What kind of rattlesnake is this, the only one that is found in the northeast United States?

No rattlesnake on the continent lives as far north as the timber rattler, which can be found all the way in southern New Hampshire. At one point it lived up through Maine and into Canada. It's a highly venomous snake but isn't highly aggressive, so human attacks are rare.


Can you name this pit viper popular in Japan, China and Korea?

The mamushi is an Asian pit viper similar to the cottonmouth found in the United States. Mamushi also live near swamps and marshes, giving them the name Japanese moccasin. They strike up to as many as 3,000 people a year, but less than a dozen of those bites are fatal.


Do you know this Australian snake named for its underbelly?

This oil-black snake can be found slithering around Australia's east coast. It has a glossy coat of sleek black scales with a fiery red underbelly, and despite its intimidating look, it's known as one of Australia's least dangerous.


What's the name of this cobra with a lack of manners?

Cobras are known for dancing and spitting, and this is one of the most prolific spitters on the planet. Its bite is deadly to humans and its spit can cause blindness if hit in the eye. They are found in Southeast Asia and can grow as long as five feet.


Can you name this venomous snake from South America?

This slim and venomous snake is found all over South America and has many names around the continent. It's one of the most common snakes in the area and it does whatever it can to avoid confrontation. They are under threat from a multitude of animals in the area.


This is one of the world's deadliest snakes, claiming thousands of lives a year. Do you know it?

The saw-scaled viper is one of the "Big Four" deadly snakes and is responsible for thousands of fatalities each year. This viper injects venom on 80% of its bites and is said to have one of the most painful bites on Earth.


Can you name this African snake that gets its name from its uniquely shaped scales?

Each scale on the leaf viper looks like a single leaf, giving the snake its name. It's also known as a tree or bush viper. It features a host of colors and is found in central African rain forests, typically steering clear of humans.


Even antivenom might not save you once bitten by this snake. Can you name it?

Krait snakes are one of the "Big Four" deadliest snakes and the Malayan, or blue, krait is one of the deadliest. About 70% of untreated attacks end in fatality. They aren't aggressive and will run and hide as a first resort all the time.


Do you know this snake with an Italian name that can be found all over Europe?

These snakes are also known as meadow vipers in Italy and can be found over Europe. Its habitat ranges all the way to China, and although it's venomous, it's not a particularly dangerous snake, as few strikes are reported.


This snake is more recognized by its weird head than its pattern. What is it?

This snake is a master of disguise and is patterned to camouflage specifically among the trees of the Madagascar forests. They get their name from their leaf-shaped noses, and their venom isn't strong enough to prove fatal in humans.


Can you name this snake, considered the second-most venomous on the planet?

Only the inland taipan is considered more venomous than the eastern brown snake, which can be found all over eastern Australia. They can be solid brown or have a banded pattern. The eastern brown snake is notorious for being aggressive and ill-tempered.


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