World’s deadliest snake kills more humans than all other species combined

The mere thought of a snake is enough to inspire rigid fear in most people.

Luckily, in the UK we don’t have to worry about them very much at all as of the four species native to us, only the adder is venomous.

What’s more Patrick Campbell, senior curator of reptiles at the Natural History Museum, said: “Generally speaking with the adder, you’re not going to die from a bite.”

But imagine living in a country where the world’s deadliest snake, the saw-scaled viper, lives.

Its venom may not be the most lethal of all snakes – that goes to the inland taipan, which has enough toxin in one bite to kill more than 100 people.

By contrast the viper’s venom is fatal in less than 10% of people if left untreated, although it can kill up to six people in one bite.

But scientists believe that this particular viper is responsible for more human deaths than all other snakes species combined.

This is down to the nocturnal snake being particularly aggressive and often biting early and, significantly, often.

Most snakes prefer to avoid contact with humans and will shy away from them, only attacking if provoked.

When this viper feels threatened it will slowly move its body packed into an s-shape and create a hissing – or some say sizzling – warning sound by rubbing its serrated scales together.

Saw-scaled vipers are found across India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as in parts of northern Africa and the Middle East.

It is the smallest member of the ‘big four’ snakes in India, a group that has bitten and killed more humans than any other.

The other three include Russell’s viper, the common krait and the Indian cobra.

Saw-scaled vipers can grow up to 90cm but usually no more than 60cm and are identifiable by their stout body and pear-shaped head that is different from the neck.

The ability to camouflage itself well amongst rocks increases its threat as people may unsuspectingly stumble on or near it.

Once a snake attacks, localised swelling and pain occurs in the bite area and can be quickly followed by a possible haemorrhage

As with any snake bite, the advice is to seek out medical attention immediately and thankfully there are several antivenoms available for saw-scaled vipers.