Snakes get a bad rap. They are mostly retiring creatures that prefer to slither around at night, making it unlikely they’ll encounter people unless someone is out for a midnight stroll in the desert or mountains or a half dozen other terrains they inhabit. Yet they are feared by folks, partly because they are misunderstood by many, but also because some have venomous bites that can wound or even kill if left untreated.
And of course Hollywood loves to make snakes the “bad guys” in movies. Is there anyone who doesn’t know or remember the snake scenes in “Raiders Of The Lost Ark?” The hero, Indiana Jones, is an all-round he-man but he has one vulnerability: he’s terrified of snakes. He vanquishes them in the end, of course, but before that, there are plenty of huge, slithering vipers that give good old Indy a run for his money.
In America, snakes are rarely a danger to man anymore, because anti-venom treatments are widely available right across the country. That doesn’t mean, however, that a snake bite isn’t a serious wound, particularly if the victim isn’t cared for immediately. Left without medical intervention, there are indeed several snakes in America that can be lethal to man. Here are the three most deadly snakes in the U.S., according to online snake experts Reptile Magazine.com.
Eastern & Western Diamondback Rattle Snakes
These cousins roam on opposite sides of the country, but they are very similar in appearance. The eastern snake can weigh up to 35 pounds and grows to eight feet on occasion — no doubt a terrifying sight if one stumbles across one on a hike. It packs a wallop of 450 mg of venom, and only 150 mg are needed to kill a human being because the venom is so toxic.
Of course like all snakes, both are shy and try their best to avoid people, but if cornered or tripped over they bite, and getting to a hospital is crucial for the victim. Not only does the snake bite hurt enormously and cause swelling, pain and toxicity, it can induce cardiac arrest. Left untreated, the victim would likely die, although there are only “a handful” of snake bite fatalities each year in America, according to Reptile Magazine.
The western diamondback rattle snake lives in southeastern California, and roams about halfway up to Canada. Its eastern cousin prefers the dry marshes of the southeastern U.S., and many parts of Florida. This is by far the most poisonous snake in America.
The Coral Snake, east and west regions of America
This snake is relatively small — up to about 24 inches in western areas, but about 30 inches on the eastern side. However, its venom can kill quickly, as it carries up to 800 mg of venom with every bite. No matter what side of the country they inhabit, coral snakes are equally deadly. But this snake is particularly nocturnal and shy, and consequently there has been only one reported death from its bite in more than 40 years.
America is a huge country, and therefore it’s fairly easy to avoid any deadly reptile in the wild. When folks go hiking or mountain climbing, they know what to watch for, and of course what to listen for — the distinctive rattle the diamondbacks make with their “tail” as a warning. Coral snakes are brightly coloured in red, black and yellow rings, and that makes them fairly easy to spot from a safe distance.
Nonetheless, good hiking boots are a must no matter where one goes in the wilderness, not only because the terrain can be hard on feet, but because the dense material which boots are made of makes the hiker less vulnerable to these slithering creatures. They may be shy, but snakes certainly will defend themselves, if need be.