Based on several factors, including lethality of venom, aggressive behavior and number of human fatalities it is responsible for, it is commonly agreed upon by herpetologists that the most dangerous snake in the world is the Russell's Viper. Also known as the Chain Viper, the Russell's Viper ("Daboia russelli") causes thousands of deaths each year.
The Russell's Viper is a member of the Viperidae family of snakes. It preys mainly on rodents and other small animals and is a bearer of live young. Unlike many of the venomous snakes that are habitually shy and reclusive, the Russell's Viper tends to be more aggressive and will become threatened easily whenever a human approaches. Instead of fleeing immediately, they may coil up, hiss and strike out very quickly.
Russell's Vipers are normally two to five and a half feet in length, with triangular shaped heads and large fangs. The markings on their heads include three triangular shaped spots along with dark lines that stretch from the eyes to the corners of the mouth. Young snakes will be a shade of orange all over, while the adults darken into shades of brown such as dark brown and brownish-gray. The markings on their bodies will consist of oval spots (brown or black) that are edged in black, white or sometimes both colors. Sometimes these spots will zig-zag down along the snake's spine, though that is not always the case. The tail of the Russell's Viper is striped and their underside will be a cream-like shade.
The Russell's Viper can be found in Pakistan, India, Bangledesh, Sri Lanka, Asia and Taiwan. It prefers to live in grassy areas and fields, as well as savannahs, scrubby areas and sometimes rainforests. It also lives in hedges, bushes and along fences near human settlements, where they are hard to see.
The Russell's Viper is named after Dr. Patrick Russell, who was a surgeon and naturalist who worked in India during the late 1700s. He spent time studying the snakes of India, looking for a way to identify venomous snakes so that they could be avoided and the number of snakebite fatalities could be reduced. He is the first person to make a written account and description of the Russell's Viper.
The Russell's Viper is considered by many to be the most dangerous snake in the world because its venom is highly lethal and it has a much more aggressive temperament than other venomous snakes. This leads to it causing more deaths per population size per area than any other snake. When the Russell's Viper bites a victim, it can deliver up to 112 mg of venom which can cause pain, swelling of the area around the bite, vomiting, kidney failure and an inability for the blood to coagulate. These symptoms or even death can occur very quickly, within two and a half to 10 minutes from the time of first being bitten. Luckily there is a polyvalent antivenin serum that, if administered in time, can keep a Russell's Viper bite from being fatal.