Biggest Snakes in the World
If you don't like reptiles, the ball pythons at that reptile birthday party you went to as a kid probably seemed giant. The biggest snake in the world makes a ball python look like a dwarf hamster. Some species exceed 20 feet in length — roughly the length of a school bus.
We ranked the biggest snakes in the world by length. Weight is a whole other matter, but the top three snakes on this list easily outweigh a grown man. The really crazy part? Some people keep them as pets.
15. Eastern Diamondback Rattler
Length: 7 feet
Weight: 34 pounds
Bottom Line: Eastern Diamondback Rattler
The eastern diamondback rattlesnake isn't as mind-blowingly large as an anaconda, but it's plenty big enough to give unsuspecting hikers a scare. These rattlers live up to 20 years and continue growing throughout their lives. Most of them only weigh about 10 pounds, but the largest specimens can be three times as heavy and more than 7 feet long.
They're one of the largest snake species native to the U.S. as well as the longest and heaviest recorded rattlesnake species.
14. Inland and Coastal Taipan
Length: 8 feet
Weight: 22 pounds
Bottom Line: Inland and Coastal Taipan
Some of the "small" snakes on this list are the most lethal. Like most creatures that can kill you in minutes, taipans are native to Australia. There are two types, the inland and the coastal, but both are large and lethal. They're fast-moving and highly venomous. They're not aggressive unless they feel cornered, which is the only reason venturing into the Australian outback isn't completely insane.
It's still a solid 80 percent crazy, though, given the fact that, if you do get bit by a taipan, survival is unlikely. When they bite, they strike rapidly and repeatedly, delivering enough venom to kill an adult human in under an hour. Since they live in the remote wilderness, the odds of getting medical attention quickly enough are slim.
13. Eastern Indigo Snake
Length: 9 feet
Weight: 9 pounds
Bottom Line: Eastern Indigo Snake
Meet the longest snake in North America and the one you should be the least scared of. The eastern indigo snake is usually around 7 or 8 feet in length, and it's a fairly thin-bodied snake — much slimmer than the boa constrictors you see at the zoo. The largest recorded specimen was 9.2 feet long. That's a big snake, but big doesn't necessarily mean dangerous.
The matte-black eastern indigo snake is nonvenomous and safe to hold, and they're known to prey upon even more dangerous venomous snakes. They're federally protected, however, so you're unlikely to spot one at a reptile expo.
12. King Brown Snake
Weight: 13 pounds
Bottom Line: King Brown Snake
Oh, look. Another venomous nope rope from Australia. Big shocker. The king brown snake is native to Central Australia, and we'd rather take a bite from a Burmese python than one of these.
They're not very heavy, but their thin, agile body is built for striking at lightning speed. They usually reach 8 to 11 feet in length and deliver around 180 milligrams of venom per bite. Remind us why anyone lives in Australia?
11. Yellow Anaconda
Weight: 80 pounds
Bottom Line: Yellow Anaconda
Any animal with the name "anaconda" is bound to be big. Anacondas are cousins of boa constrictors, but even species that look very similar can vary drastically in size. The yellow anaconda is smaller than the green anaconda and usually weighs between 55 and 80 pounds full-grown.
These giant constrictors are native to South America, living primarily in the wetlands. They're nonvenomous, opportunistic feeders, so they'll snack on whatever they can find in the wild. Small mammals, birds, frogs, fish and eggs are their top choices, but they've been known to resort to cannibalism from time to time.
10. Papuan Olive Python
Length: 13 feet
Weight: 50 pounds
Bottom Line: Papuan Olive Python
The Papuan olive python, also known as the Apodora, is a thick, stocky python species that can only be found in the dense forests of Papua New Guinea. Spotting a Papuan olive python is unlikely since they're a solitary, lesser-known species, but they easily earn a spot on the list of biggest snakes in the world.
They can weigh as much as a toddler and are about the length of a midsize sedan. Luckily, they're not aggressive toward humans and would rather slither away quietly than confront trespassers.
9. Boa Constrictor
Length: 13 feet
Weight: 60 pounds
Bottom Line: Boa Constrictor
Boa constrictors are likely one of the more recognizable names on this list. They're commonly kept as pets, but that isn't as crazy as it sounds. Boas are big and heavy, but they're nonvenomous, and their stats are deceptive. Firstly, there are two species of boa constrictor: boa constrictor (also known as the red-tailed boa) and boa imperator. The two species look similar, but true red-tailed boas are much larger. The smaller boa imperator rarely tops 8 feet, and some localities never grow over 4 or 5 feet.
Interestingly, boas tend to grow larger in captivity than in the wild, and females are almost always larger than males.
8. Black Mamba
Length: 14 feet
Weight: 5 pounds
Bottom Line: Black Mamba
The black mamba is like the most deadly piece of burnt spaghetti you could possibly encounter. They're darkest in color as babies, fading to a silvery grey color with age. A 14-foot black mamba is rare, but adults often reach 9 feet. Even if a black mamba is smaller than a boa, you'd much rather pick up a 13-foot boa than a 7-foot black mamba. Victims of a black mamba bite lose the ability to speak after about 20 minutes. In an hour, they're unconscious. By six hours post-bite, they're goners without an antidote.
That said, the reports of black mambas aggressively chasing people don't tell the whole story. Black mambas would prefer to avoid confrontation. Cases of supposed pursuit were likely examples of a person accidentally blocking a black mamba's path to its burrow.
7. Amethystine Python
Length: 18 feet
Weight: 53 pounds
Bottom Line: Amethystine Python
The amethystine python, also known as the scrub python, is a nonvenomous snake found in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Scrub pythons are the longest species of snake native to Australia, but their dietary habits aren't particularly scary. They mostly eat rats, possums, fruit bats and occasionally lizards. While some reports of scrub pythons over 25 feet have popped up over the years, most never exceed 18 feet.
Keep in mind that length isn't everything. While an 18-foot snake is intimidating, snakes can only eat prey that they can swallow whole. Scrub python mouths aren't nearly large enough to take on a human, and they know it. Any attacks on humans are likely defensive, not predatory.
6. Central African Rock Python
Length: 18 feet
Weight: 120 pounds
Bottom Line: Central African Rock Python
The African rock python has a reputation for being aggressive, and it's not completely undeserved. While some herpetologists keep them as pets, most reptile keepers wouldn't touch an African rock python with a 10-foot pole. Their exceptional size and unpleasant temperament make them more dangerous to interact with than some of the even larger species on this list.
Any snake over 8 feet should be handled with caution, but an African rock python probably shouldn't be handled at all. It has few natural predators, so the only threat to the species is habitat loss.
5. King Cobra
Length: 19 feet
Weight: 45 pounds
Bottom Line: King Cobra
A 45-pound snake isn't the hardest to overpower, but that's if you don't consider the murder weapon lurking at one end. King cobras are the longest venomous snakes in the world, although their average length is closer to 12 feet than 20. They're slim-bodied snakes, but they rear up and flare out a defensive hood to look more intimidating. No need, cobra. We weren't going to get in your way.
They're only found in southern and southeast Asia, but some specimens can be seen in captivity. Curious what handling a king cobra is like? It's been done and with an albino version, too.
4. Indian Rock Python
Length: 20 feet
Weight: 200 pounds
Bottom Line: Indian Rock Python
Are you noticing a theme? Both boas and pythons are large constrictors, and most species that fall into these two categories are large. The Indian rock python lives in India (fitting), plus Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.
They usually don't grow over about 10 feet, but they'll occasionally reach double-digit lengths if given enough time and available prey.
3. Burmese Python
Length: 27 feet
Weight: 215 pounds
Bottom Line: Burmese Python
The Burmese python is pretty much tied with the reticulated python (up next) in size. The Burmese python tends to be thicker and shorter, while the reticulated python is longer and more slender. Both are giants, and both are popularly kept by serious reptile keepers.
Burmese pythons are about as friendly and safe to handle as a 15 feet (or longer) snake can get, but their size is nothing to scoff at. Snakes that large require at least two people to handle, and they need a zoo-sized enclosure to house them. Unfortunately, many people don't realize just how big a Burmese python will get before they pick one up. In fact, enough people released them into the wild that the Florida Everglades are now overrun with invasive Burmese pythons.
2. Reticulated Python
Length: 32 feet
Weight: 200 pounds
Bottom Line: Reticulated Python
The reticulated python goes down in the record books as the largest snake kept in captivity. Medusa, a 25-foot, 2-inch giant, weighed 350 pounds when she was just 8 years old. She currently holds the record for the largest reticulated python in captivity, edging out the previous record holder at Ohio's Columbus Zoo. That one's name is Fluffy.
For such a giant snake, she's surprisingly easy to handle. Reticulated pythons aren't aggressive snakes; they're just giant. As with any giant animal, accidents can happen, so hopping into the snake enclosure at the zoo is still a bad idea. Luckily, hobbyists have been selectively breeding dwarf and super-dwarf retics that have all the beauty of a full-sized one in a much more manageable size.
1. Green Anaconda
Length: 33 feet
Weight: 550 pounds
Bottom Line: Green Anaconda
Retics, Burms and green anacondas are all giants, but the latter of the three takes the cake for the biggest snake in the world. A type of boa, the green anaconda is huge, brutally strong and loves to swim. They live in tropical habitats throughout South America, and can easily top 25 feet in length. The largest recorded specimen hit 33 feet.
Remember how we said that most giant snakes are too slim to pose a serious threat to humans? That doesn't apply here. Green anacondas have been known to take on gators, and it's technically possible for them to eat a human being. We'll stay out of the rainforest, just in case.
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