10 Most Badass Snakes

Seems everyone these days is doing a ten-most-something series, so rather than doing the cliche ten-most-venomous, I thought it would be fun to do something totally and completely subjective. I give you, the 10 Most Badass Snakes in the world:


1) Giant Spitting Cobra (Naja ashei)– I think cobras in general take the cake for the most Badass snakes, especially the big ones—King  Cobras are certainly awesome—but if I’m going to crown the most badass cobra, not only does it have to be big, it has to spit. Naja ashei has what it takes. These guys grow up to at least 9ft long and are capable of delivering over 6 ml of liquid venom—three times the venom yield of an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. Read more about it here:
Giant Spitting Cobra Journal Article

Giant Spitting Cobra

2) False Water Cobra (Hydrodynastes gigas)—Awesome, powerful colubrid snakes reaching over 7 feet in length with a killer looking black eye mask. These guys are rear fanged and can hood up like a cobra. Now I am a huge fan of big colubrids, and there are some other really cool ones too. But having seen several big colubrids up close, the impressive girth and bitchin’ looking face of a big Falsie takes the cake for me.  Here is just a small one eating Nigel Marvin’s hand, ouch!
Jaguar Adventure Clip

Fasle Water Cobra


3) Xenodermus javanicus – Although some call this the Tubercle Snake, I think the common name Dragon Snake is much more badass.  Dragon Snakes have three rows of oddly enlarged scales making them wildly different from any other species of snake. They were once placed in the catch-all colubrid family, but recent phylogenetic studies show them to be very different from most colubrids (duhhh). Some authorities now place them in their own family, Xenodermatidae. Follow this link to the SA Reptiles forum to see a photo:
South Africa Reptile Forum


4) Pseudocerastes urarachnoides—This bizarre viper was first collected in 1968, but not really known to science until it was named in 2006, shortly after the discovery of a second specimen. The scales of the tail are drastically elongated to the point where they resemble the legs of a centipede. It is likely that it uses its tail to lure unsuspecting animals (probably birds) within striking range. You can see a video of one using its tail here:
Youtube Video of tail lure
or you can read more about it here:
Species Description Journal Article


5) Bushmaster (Lachesis muta)—Even though it shares its name with an assault rifle company, it doesn’t need that to be badass. This snake, also called the Matabuey—which means “ox killer”—is the largest venomous snake in America. These unique animals have been branded as extremely difficult to reproduce in captivity. They are also rarely encountered in the wild, and unlike almost all other American pitvipers, this species lays eggs. Here is a link to a Bushmaster skull. Imagine the set of sabers on a 12 foot specimen—and yes, they do get that big.
Bushmaster Skull

bushmaster lachesis muta


6) Hairy Bush Viper (Atheris hispida)—OK, maybe I should have named this list the 10 most bizarre snakes, but either way, the Hairy Bush viper has to make the list. Like a little venomous pineapple this beast has large keels that curve outward forming points giving the whole animal a furry or spiky appearance. If only they had a pair of wings they would look like something straight out of a Dungeons and Dragons game. Hairy Bush Vipers live in central Africa and are arboreal ambush predators.

hairy bush viper atheris hispidaPhoto by Al Coritz


7) Rhinocerus Viper (Bitis nasicornis)—As if rhino horns coming off the nose, bristly scales and impressive girth weren’t enough for this species, some of the more colorful specimens are just nutty colorful–Lemon Yellow, Glacier Blue, Red, Green, Orange, really? Bad…Ass.

Photo by Al Coritz
The one above is alright, but check out this link for a REALLY smokin’ one:
South Africa Reptiles Forum


8) Boelen’s Python (Morelia boeleni)—what could be more badass than a jet black python with facial bars that resemble giant teeth. Add to that the fact that it’s as iridescent as an oil slick and you’ve got the king of the pythons. Sure there are bigger ones, fatter ones, calmer ones, nastier ones, and ones that have been selectively bred to create more varieties than a Baskin Robbins, but M. boeleni will get my badass python vote every time. If you want to learn more about the Boelen’s Python check out Marc Spataro’s website:



9) Mangrove Snake (Boiga dendrophila)—Mangrove Snakes are stunningly beautiful animals with their yellow rings on a glossy black body, but they could make this list based on disposition alone. In fact, these guys are so nasty that it is rare to see a photo of this species that doesn’t have its mouth gaping ready to rip into anything that comes too close.  Of course that doesn’t stop people from keeping them. Neither does the fact that they are rear fanged, venomous and potentially dangerous.  Hmmm…anyone have any Mangrove Snakes for sale? I think I want one again.

mangrove snake bioga dendrophilaPhoto by Daniel Kopeček


10) Paradise Tree Snake (Chrysopelea paradise)—This snake is just awesome. It has a killer looking long snout, almost like a monitor lizard, It has knock-your-socks off color, and oh-yah…it can fly. It might even have x-ray vision (more studies needed). The only thing that would make these snakes cooler is if they got a little bigger—at barely over three feet and thin like a whip, this gem comes in a small package. Ok, really these guys don’t “fly” but they glide with the best of the animal kingdom. Researchers have recorded them gliding distances of over 300 feet. This video is probably of a Golden Tree Snake, not as colorful, but some awesome flight footage:
Nat Geo Flying Snake Footage
If you want to see a colorful Paradise Tree Snake check out the one on this blog:
Colorful Paradise Tree Snake

The idea for this post was developed from a thread originally posted on FieldHerpForum.com called “the most bitchenist herp”. Frogs, Turtles, Lizards and Maybe Snot Lizards to follow.

Posted by Jeremiah Easter. 2011. If you like this content, support us by sharing it!

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