If you’re not a fan of snakes, we’re warning you right now to stop reading this list of the largest snakes in the world. These beasts can measure in at over 30 feet (9 meters) in length, weigh over 300 pounds (136 kg), and take down prey larger than humans.
You’ve likely already heard of a few of these snakes, with the boa constrictors commonly found in zoos and the king cobra getting more than its fair share of movie time. However, in the depth of the Amazon and backcountry of Australia, other fascinating large snakes can be found. Each with its unique hunting styles and oddities that allow them to conquer their surroundings.
Below we take a closer look at the 11 largest snakes in the world. Remember, we’ve already warned you, this isn’t a list that’ll help you sleep better at night.
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While there are more large snakes out there than you’d ever like to imagine, there’s one snake in particular that trumps all others – the green anaconda. This monster has been known to grow over 30 feet (9 meters) in length and weigh over 500 pounds (136 kg). To put that into perspective, imagine something as long as a school bus coming your way with enough strength to hold down deer, wild pigs, tapirs, and capybaras.
Even with these claims of great size, most green anacondas measure closer to 15 feet (4.6 meters) and, fortunately for most, spend most of their lives in or near the water. Green anacondas are cumbersome on land and cannot move at great speeds. If you keep to dry land and don’t wander the drowned forests of the Amazon, it’s unlikely you’ll come across one of these giants in the wild. However, if you do happen to spot an especially long green anaconda, you may want to tell a trusted snake charmer as there’s a US$50,000 reward on offer for anyone who can catch (not just claim to see) an anaconda 30 feet or longer.
Alongside the green anacondas on the list of the largest snakes in the world is the reticulated python. While the reticulated python might not weigh as much as the green anaconda, it makes up for this in its longer average body length. In fact, the current longest living snake in the world is a 25 foot (7.6 meters) long, 350-pound (158 kilograms) reticulated python whose name is Medusa who lives in a Kansas haunted house.
Haunted houses aren’t where most reticulated pythons choose to live, though. Instead, they can be found in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, and aren’t too fussed about their environment. The reticulated python have been spotted in rainforests, woodlands, far out at sea, and the occasional one has been known to slither into town. Their diet is also as varied as their habitat and the reticulated python enjoys anything from small rats to deer. They’re also one of the only snakes in the world that will actively prey on humans. We’ll leave you with that.
If you think the worst you have to worry about in the Florida Everglades are crocodiles and alligators, think again. The Burmese python may be native to Southeast Asia, but with the popularity of having these giants as pets in Florida along with a hurricane in 1992 that destroyed a python-breeding facility, the Burmese python has settled nicely into the Everglades and are now considered an invasive species. It’s thought more than 300,000 of these giants live in Florida and are sadly wreaking havoc on the number of foxes, rabbits, and birds found in the region.
Stretching up to 23 feet (7 meters) long, this is a snake you won’t enjoy coming across. Like other pythons, the Burmese python isn’t venomous and instead uses its strong body to constrict and kill prey. The Burmese python will sit hidden in swamps or up a tree while waiting for its prey to meander by. It then uses its sharp teeth to grab its prey, wraps its body around the prey, and once dead, will swallow it whole. Not a fun thought when you’re out on a morning walk in Florida.
If you know a thing or two about snakes, you’ll recognize pit vipers as a family of snakes to steer well clear of. Their venom is known to lead to a range of terrible symptoms, from damaged skin tissue to leaking blood vessels, and one bite can be fatal if left untreated. Now to introduce the bushmaster, which holds the title for the longest type of viper in the world and the longest venomous snake in the Western Hemisphere. Not a pit viper you’ll want to come across anytime soon.
The bushmaster may not be as long as the green anaconda or Burmese python, but it still sits comfortably on the list of largest snakes in the world, measuring an average of 6.6 to 9.8 feet (2 to 3 meters) and growing up to 13 feet (4 meters). Bushmasters can weave elegantly on land and prefer scrublands and forests to swamps and rivers. Here, they’ll coil up and wait for prey to come by, usually of the smaller variety rodents and avoid interaction with larger animals. However, catch a Bushmaster off guard and you may have yourself an urgent trip to the hospital.
The strikingly deep purple eastern indigo holds the title for the longest snake native to North America. The longest recorded eastern indigo measured in at 9.2 feet (2.8 meters), so while it doesn’t reach the massive size of some of the other largest snakes in the world on this list, it certainly holds its own. Adding to its size is the eastern indigos even more intimidating behavior. The snake kills its prey, especially birds and small mammals, by beating it repeatedly against hard objects. This beating can become so violent that the eastern indigo harms itself in the process.
On the flip side, this strange way of killing prey means humans aren’t on the eastern indigos menu. Instead, humans are the largest threat to the snake and the eastern indigos population has been declining as more and more of their habitat is destroyed. If you see an eastern indigo, be sure to give it plenty of space to slither away and it will continue on without giving you a second look.
What the eastern diamondback lacks in length, it well makes up for in its weight, making it a top contender as one of the largest snakes in the world. It’s easy to assume a snake this heavy would be a constrictor, but you’d be wrong. The eastern diamondback belongs to the pit viper family, and with its lethal venom, it’s often considered the most dangerous venomous snake in North America.
Along with the eastern diamond’s hefty body size comes shockingly long fangs, which can reach over 1 inch (25 mm) in length. One bite can cause severe bleeding, numbness in limbs, nausea, difficulty breathing, and left untreated, can be fatal. Like most other snakes, the eastern diamondback prefers to leave humans alone and instead preys on small mammals like rabbits and rats. However, if you’re in the southeastern United States and see a large brownish snake meandering through the bush, you may want to choose a different route.
With a name like the black mamba, you know this snake will have characteristics that’ll leave you squirming. Opposite to the eastern diamondback, the black mamba is long and skinny, allowing it to race through the African savanna at speeds up to 12 miles (19 kilometers) per hour. On top of that, it hunts on the ground and in trees, blends in well with its environment, and is highly aggressive. When it decides to attack, it performs multiple rapid strikes injecting venom each time. All in all, this is one snake you don’t want to be in the vicinity of.
In the unfortunate event you’re bitten by a black mamba, you’ll want to seek medical attention immediately. Antivenom is available in most hospitals in southern Africa and administered in a timely matter can prevent severe symptoms and death. Even so, deaths can still occur with antivenom, and the fatality rate skyrockets without antivenom. If you come across one, be sure to give it plenty of space and never make a black mamba feel cornered.
With its renowned hood, beady black eyes, and majestical sway as it gets ready to attack, the king cobra is a favorite for moviemakers looking to install fear and awe into their audience. This fear comes with good reason too. Stretching up to 19.2 feet in length (5.8 meters), the king cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world and can deliver enough venom in a single bite to kill an elephant.
Interestingly, unlike other snakes on this list, the king cobra isn’t a huge fan of dining on small rodents and mammals. Instead, the king cobra mainly hunts other snakes and lizards, and only when food is scarce will they alter their diet to include birds. The king cobra also prefers to keep its distance from humans, but if they feel threatened, they’ll raise their body to look even larger and can spring their forward a surprisingly long distance to attack.
It’s no surprise an Australian snake has made its way on the list of the largest snakes in the world. The land down under is filled with snakes you’ll want to stay well away from, and the king brown is no exception. One bite can cause extensive pain, blood clotting, and even debilitating muscle damage. Making matters worse, the king brown can grow up to 11 feet (3.3 meters) long and are not picky about their habitat.
Whether you’re in the sandy desert of central Australia, roaming the coastlines of Perth, or hiking in the woodlands of New South Whales, you’ll be wise to be keeping an eye out for the king cobra. However, even if you’re not out and about, this is one snake that can still unexpectedly come into your life. The king brown has been known to bite people who were asleep and don’t need to feel threatened to attack. Luckily, antivenom is readily available, and nobody has been known to die from king brown venom since 1969.
African Rock Python
Like most pythons, the African rock python grows to tremendous lengths and uses its heavy body and powerful muscles to constrict and suffocate its prey. On average, the African rock python grows to 10 feet (3 meters) long, but it has been known to reach 16 feet (4.9 meters) in length and weigh up to 250 pounds (113 kilograms). With this length and power, the snake can kill prey as large as antelopes, goats and it’s even been recorded eating a 150 pound (70 kilograms) hyena.
As its name suggests, the African rocky python is native to Africa and until recently hadn’t made its home in any other continent. However, its good friend and relative, the Burmese python, must’ve sent word that life in the Florida Everglades was pretty good, and it’s now thought the African rocky python is becoming more and more abundant in the Everglades.
Last but certainly not least on the list of largest snakes in the world is the renowned boa constrictor. Also known as the red-tailed boa or the common boa, this snake is a favorite amongst snake owners and is often kept as a pet. While they can be aggressive in the wild when in captivity with good conditions and consistent meals, they become tame and can be handled with little danger to humans.
Like many snakes, the female boa constrictor is larger in length and weight than their male counterparts and can grow between 7 to 10 ft (2 to 3 meters), whereas the males rarely grow over 8 feet long (2.4 meters) in the wild. However, in captivity, both the males and females tend to get much larger and reach up to 14 feet (4.3 meters). Keep in mind, while this is one of the less dangerous snakes on this list, the boa constrictor should still never be approached in the wild and never handled without a proper handler giving instructions.