India is not just a country, rather a miniature version of an entire continent, holding a large and diverse biosphere of animal species. In the biosphere there are roughly 270 species of snakes living in dark and deep forests. Sixty of them are recognized as being highly venomous. They cause an estimated 45,000 snakebite-related deaths each year.
The northern part of India hosts the longest venomous snake in the world, called King Cobra. The average length of an adult King Cobra goes up to 4 meters long and weighs up to 12.7 Kg. The longest known King Cobra was measured 5.85 m (19.2 ft) long. Primarily king cobra prefer to feed on lizards, frogs, and other small snakes including indian cobra, and rate snakes.
The average lifespan of these snakes is said to be 20 years. King cobra is the only snake species in the world that can raise their upper body up to 2 meters high from the ground, in the presence of danger. An adult King Cobra can eject up to 420 mg of venom in a single bite, enough to kill an elephant. Without proper treatment one single bite of a king cobra can kill a man under 30 minutes.
The indian cobra is a member of the big four species of Indian snake. They are now protected under the Indian wildlife protection law, for their cultural and mythological importance. This particular cobra species can easily be identified by a unique V-shaped mark on the backside of their hood.
The hood is relatively large and quite impressive, which it expands when threatened. It’s a highly venomous snake, causing a great number of snakebite deaths, especially in rural India. It can grow up to 1.5 meters with a lifespan of 24 years. They mostly feed on lizards, frogs, rats, and small snakes. Dispite being shy in character, they can become very aggressive when disturbed.
Common Krait is one of the members of the big four species of snake. They’re responsible for a good number of snakebite deaths happening in rural India. When fully grown, these snakes can be up to 2 meters in length, with a lifespan of 10-17 years.
They like to live in the dark forest, cool or shady areas, and feed on frogs, rats, or small snakes, etc. The venom of these snakes is more dangerous than Cobra. The venom works slowly in the victim’s body. After being bitten, no victim can survive more than 4 hours without proper medical treatment.
These snakes are easily identifiable by its black and yellow cross bands with a unique triangular body shape, thus got the name – Banded Krait. Scientifically called Bungarus fasciatus, is the largest among all kraits.
They have a very similar look to Common Krait, but the head of Banded Krait is broader and depressed. In the Indian biosphere, these snakes are reputed to be very beautiful. However, they are highly venomous. Their venom is neurotoxic, meaning this type of venom affects directly the nervous system of the victim. Despite being highly venomous, the number of deaths by the snakes bite is very rare.
Banded Krait can grow up to 2.25 meters in length in their full-grown stage. They could live up to 15-20 years. In terms of their food habits, these snakes prefer to eat small snakes, but they can also eat bird’s eggs, fish, frogs, etc.
Yellow-lipped Sea Krait
Yellow-lipped Sea Krait is a highly venomous snake, often known as banded sea krait. As the name suggests these snake species live mostly underwater. A full-grown Yellow-lipped sea krait can be 1.5 meters in length and live up to 7-9 years. These snakes usually lay one to ten eggs at a time, either inside limestone caves or rock crevices. They like to live on coral reefs & soggy places near the sea. Being carnivorous, eels are their preferred food, although they also eat small fishes.
The most dangerous snake in the viper category, Russell’s Viper is the cause of highest death in India than other snakes. It can inject up to 120 mg of venom, on one single bite. A full-grown Russell’s Viper can be 3.3 feet in length with a life span of 10-17 years. It’s found all across India, mostly in the valley of western ghats. Locally, it’s called in various names like koriwala, daboia, and chandra-bora etc. These snakes are agile & normally like to eat lizards, frogs, rodents, bird’s eggs etc.
Malabar Pit Viper
In the valley of western-ghat of India, one of the most dangerous snakes runs its kingdom, called Malabar Pit Viper. These snakes have a prehensile tail that they use for grabbing onto some objects. They are often seen wandering from tree to tree in the monsoon, in search of a living space.
Malabar Pit Viper are nocturnal, and move very slowly. However, they are able to strike a bite in lightning speed, if threatened. These snakes don’t lay eggs, instead, they give birth to 4-5 babies at once. These snakes like to live in rain forests or near soggy & shady places. An adult Malabar Pit Viper can grow up to 41 inches with a maximum life span of 12-18 years.
Saw-scaled Viper is commonly found in the Indian state of UP, Rajasthan, Punjab, and a few hill areas of Maharashtra. These snakes are the smallest in size among the big four species of snakes. Despite being small, these snakes are very venomous. A full-grown Saw-scaled Viper can be up to 12-20 inches in length, with a lifespan of 23 years.
These snakes are nocturnal hunters and only roam around at night. They can become aggressive when threatened or disturbed. The preferred diet of these vipers is varied, as they usually like to eat locusts, beetles, worms, slugs, spiders, centipedes, frogs, toads, other small reptiles, etc.
Hump-Nosed Pit Viper
Hump-nosed pit vipers are mostly found in the southern part of India. They lives in dense forests, coffee farms, and rocky regions of South India. They are small in size and have a prehensile tail for grasping on to objects. Like other vipers, hump-nosed vipers are also nocturnal. This viper can grow up to 12-22 inches in length with a lifespan of 12-18 years. These vipers prefer to feed on small snakes, insects, frogs, lizards, rats, etc.
Bamboo Pit Viper
In the southern part of India, mainly in the region of Tamilnadu, a very rare species of snake is found, called Bamboo pit viper. These snakes are seen in bright green color, but sometimes with a yellowish, grayish, or brownish tone. These snakes are arboreal and move slowly. Although, they can strike a lightning fast bite if threatened.
Being nocturnal these vipers are mostly found active at late night. They can grow up to 39 inches and can live for 24 years. These venomous snakes contain hemotoxic venom, but there is no such record of human death for its bite. They commonly prefer to eat frogs, lizards, small birds, small rodents, bird eggs, etc.
Andaman Pit Viper
Commonly said as Andaman pit viper is a native venomous snake species of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. These snakes are the reason for most snake-bite related human deaths in Andaman island. An adult snake of this species can grow up to 38-44 inches in length with a lifespan of 12-18 years. Andaman Pit Viper are dark brownish and mostly live in a cool shady place near to the ocean. They feed on frogs, small fish, small rodents, lizards, etc.