This can only be a brief overview of an interesting subject. Even given their minority status within the suborder Serpentes as a whole, this still means that there are hundreds of venomous snakes species. If you find venomous snakes interesting, then hopefully this will give you some more details on the subject and point you in the direction of finding out more about them (at least at first through books rather than hands-on experience!). If you dislike snakes or have other reasons to view them with a steely eye, then the old dictum applies: "Know your enemy".
There are three primary families of venomous snakes: the Elapidae, the Viperidae and the Hydrophiidae. The Elapidae comprise cobras, kraits, mambas, coral snakes and others, including some Australian species which although commonly called vipers are not in fact true vipers. The Viperidae are the true vipers, including rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and bushmasters. The Hydrophiidae are the seasnakes, which are essentially elapid snakes modified for life in the oceans.
In addition some other families are either venomous or contain venomous species. The Atractaspididae, Mole Vipers or stiletto snakes, are all venomous but mostly non-dangerous to humans. These are sometimes included in the family Colubridae. Some of the latter family are rear-fanged venomous snakes, mostly not dangerous to humans with the noted exception of the Boomslang and the Twig Snake.
We cover the species of venomous snakes in more detail below, but the following should give you some idea of how likely you are to encounter venomous species:
This can only be a brief overview of an interesting subject. Even given their minority status within the suborder Serpentes as a whole, this still means that there are hundreds of venomous snakes species. The following links are to overviews of each family:
Family Elapidae: cobras, kraits, coral snakes and mambas.
Family Viperidae: vipers, pit vipers, rattlesnakes, fer-de-lance and bushmaster.
Family Hydrophiidae: sea snakes.
See the family pages above for bibliographic details.
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