17 Most Venomous Snakes in America

While some snakes are great to have as pets, others have the key to death right inside their fangs. From snakes in the sea to snakes with rattles on their tails, here are 17 poisonous species in America that could cause you serious trouble.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

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The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the most venomous snake in North America. It’s also the largest rattlesnake in the world, and a bite from one of these has effects immediately when you’re bitten. You’ll need serious medical help within 30 minutes, as the eastern diamondback’s hemotoxins attack your tissues and red blood cells.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

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The western diamondback rattlesnake also comes with hemotoxins that make you bleed internally. Its venom attacks your blood vessels, tissues, heart, and muscles, and deaths typically occur within six to 48 hours. The eastern diamondback is only more deadly than these western diamondbacks because it delivers 400mg more venom.

Copperhead

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Although the copperhead isn’t an aggressive snake, its bite can be really painful. They’re the most likely venomous snakes for you to find and also the most likely to bite you, National Geographic reports. However, their hemotoxins aren’t as strong as others, as fatality rates are only 0.01%.

Cottonmouth

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Cottonmouths avoid direct contact with you and your pets, but their venoms can cause immense damage to tissues. Bites typically occur when they are intentionally provoked or accidentally stepped on, and there are an average of six to seven deaths from them each year.

Timber Rattlesnake

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The timber rattlesnake is a species from eastern North America with a fatality rate of one in ten bites. Although fatalities from the timber rattler’s hemotoxins aren’t on the high end, a researcher still lost his life to one in 2022, as reported by Fox News. This shows you can’t be too careful around them.

Tiger Rattlesnake

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The venom of the tiger rattlesnake is myotoxic, meaning it attacks soft tissues in your muscles. They produce one of the smallest quantities of venom (10 mg), but their venom is extremely concentrated with neurotoxins. Thankfully, fatality rates from this snake are low in the U.S.

Sidewinder

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Sidewinders’ venom is less potent than their larger counterparts, but it still causes a lot of pain and swelling and can be fatal. Their venom isn’t all you should be worried about, though. Sidewinders are also the fastest snakes on land in the entire world.

Prairie Rattlesnake

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Prairie rattlesnakes come with a venom that’s both hemotoxic and cytotoxic, meaning its venom attacks your tissues and also kills off your blood cells. Thankfully, bites from this species, found primarily in the western U.S., are rarely fatal. Not only are antivenoms readily available, but the prairie also delivers dry bites sometimes.

Mojave Rattlesnake

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The venom of the Mojave rattlesnake is both hemotoxic and neurotoxic, which means you can be rendered paralyzed while you bleed inside. The last known death from one was in Arizona in 2007, and most documented bites are typically from intentional interaction with it. It could take up to 100 vials of antivenom to get you stabilized after a bite, as this CBS story shows.

Eastern Coral Snake

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Eastern coral snakes are sea snakes found in the southeastern parts of America that carry one of the most lethal bites around. Although there has only been a single case of fatal bites since 1967, their neurotoxins will render you paralyzed and in need of ventilatory support within hours.

Massasauga Rattlesnake

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The Massasauga is a pit viper primarily found in central and eastern North America with a highly toxic venom. However, their short fangs mean they only let out a small amount per bite, putting children and people with poor health at the greatest risk. A PubMed study shows there are still signs of bleeding or blood clot formation after the first treatment.

Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

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The yellow-bellied sea snake is a tropical oceanic species found in California. It secretes only 1–4 mg of venom per bite, and there have been no documented deaths in the U.S. Nonetheless, its neurotoxins are highly potent and can kill you, as shared by the New York Times.

Santa Catalina Rattlesnake

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The Santa Catalina rattlesnake is a pit viper that’s native and exclusive to California’s Santa Catalina Island. These snakes don’t have rattles, as their names suggest, but their hemotoxins and neurotoxins are as fatal as rattlesnake venoms get. Due to the low number of human inhabitants, there are almost zero cases of snakebites on the island.

Rock Rattlesnake

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Whether banded or mottled, the rock rattlesnake has one of the best camouflages around and holds venom specifically designed for invertebrate animals. It is a generally docile species, but bites from adults can kill your red blood cells, damage your organs, and send you into shock.

Red Diamond Rattlesnake

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The red diamond rattlesnake also comes with hemorrhagic toxins that could cause pain, swelling, and damage to your tissues. They are also excellent swimmers, often found in freshwater, and encounters with the red diamond rattlesnake are more frequent in Loma Linda, California.

Pacific Rattlesnake

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The seven species of Pacific rattlesnake come with neurotoxic and myotoxic venom, very similar to that of the Mojave rattlesnake. Sightings are so common that there are 8,000 cases of Pacific rattlesnake bites per year, with a reported six deaths on average.

Pygmy Rattlesnake

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The pygmy rattlesnake comes with a bite that is rarely fatal but is still extremely painful and may cause you to lose a finger to amputation. Pygmies are the smallest species of rattlesnake in the U.S., and this is where they got their name from.

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