Meet The World's Deadliest Snake: The Saw-Scaled Viper

Meet The World's Deadliest Snake: The Saw-Scaled Viper

You've probably heard of the king cobra snake and the python, among other lethal and deadly reptiles. But in case you've not yet been introduced to the saw-scaled viper, let me do the honors.

The saw-scaled viper is among the deadliest snakes in the world, with many ranking it as the #1 deadliest snake.

According to Britannica, scientists believe the saw-scaled viper to be responsible for more human deaths than all other snake species combined.

iNaturalist reports that the species can be found throughout India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and parts of Nepal, Oman, and Iran. Britannica notes that it can also be in parts of Africa. It camouflages well among rocks and strikes unsuspecting victims that can't see it fast enough.

The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve describes the snake as being brown, grey or tan, with a prominent series of white blocks along the spine. The snake has a thin neck, flattened, pear-shaped head, and cat-like pupils with bright reddish-brown irises.

According to the Government of Dubai, the saw-scaled viper is "fast-striking," "very poisonous," and "notorious for its aggressive temperament." Not a great combination from a human's perspective.

Growing up to 70 cm long (27.5 inches), the saw-scaled viper may not be the largest snake, but its aggressive attitude and venom create a fatal pairing for those unlucky enough to fall victim.

As National Geographic reports:

"Most snakes are harmless to humans, and even dangerously venomous ones are unlikely to bite us or to inject much venom. But the saw-scaled viper is a rare exception. It’s aggressive and hard to spot. It’s common to parts of the world that are densely populated by humans. And it has a potent venom. Toxins in the venom can break down the membranes that line our blood vessels, and max out our ability to clot, leading to catastrophic bleeding."

While the snake's bite is actually lethal in less than 10 percent of untreated victims, it bites often resulting in a larger number of deaths than other snakes with deadlier bites. But even those who survive the saw-scaled viper's venom don't always make it out unscathed.

"The venom doesn’t just kill; it destroys," National Geographic added, referring to the venom's ability to devastate the tissues around the site of the bite. Some surviving victims require amputation or suffer from life-long tissue damage around the site of the bite.

If you happen to be in an area that has saw-scaled vipers, it's important to be diligent, avoid rocky areas where they may be lurking, and seek medical treatment immediately if bitten.

Malorie Thompson

Malorie works as a writer and editor in Northern California. She's passionate about food, conscious living, animal welfare, and conservation. She's worked with a variety of publications in different sectors but is happiest covering topics close to her heart. When not at her laptop, Malorie can be found enjoying picnics on the beach, hiking in the redwoods, and spending time with her rescue pup, Jax.

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