In this article, we’ll answer the question:
“Are snakes dangerous?”
First, you’ll find a short summary about the dangerousness of snakes in general, then get specific answers about these reptiles like are snakes aggressive, will they bite, do snakes eat humans, etc.
Snakes are carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes with a higher classification of Ophidia. A snake can swallow prey much larger than its heads with its highly mobile jaws.
Are Snakes Dangerous?
Most snakes are not dangerous to humans. Out of 3,500 species of snakes, approximately 600 species are poisonous but only around 200 can kill or severely injure a person.
A snake’s venom is a protein-based poison to subdue its prey. These toxins disable the victim’s nervous system and cause tissue damage, leading to swelling, bruising, and even necrosis (tissue death). In small doses, the venom may only cause minor discomfort, but it can be fatal in larger doses.
The majority of snake species are nonvenomous, feeding on prey in many ways. Some snakes constrict their prey by squeezing tightly around it until it suffocates; others swallow the prey whole and begin to digest it from the inside out. Nonvenomous snakes have strong jaws and sharp teeth to grab and hold onto their prey to eat them.
Are Snakes Aggressive?
Most snakes are not aggressive and will slither away if they sense a human in the environment. However, some species will attack people if provoked, cornered, or threatened in their habitat.
Humans should take precautions to decrease the chance of making a snake aggressive, particularly in wooded regions around lakes or ponds. While most species are not aggressive towards humans, it is best to be careful when around snakes and avoid them whenever possible. If a snake strikes, it is essential to remain calm and seek medical attention immediately.
Do Snakes Bite?
Snakes do bite as a form of self-defense and to capture prey. However, a snake will not typically bite a human unless it is in danger. Non-venomous snakes often slither away from people without biting but venomous snakes bit if given the chance,
The best strategy to avoid being bitten is to keep snakes at a distance. Some snakes can still bite after death. In fact, the bite reflex can be triggered hours after the snake dies. If a snake bites you, try to stay calm and seek medical attention right away.
There are a few things you can do to lower your risk of being bitten by a snake:
- Wear long pants and avoid tall grass or brush when hiking.
- Don’t step or put your hands into holes or crevices without first looking for snakes.
- Be especially careful when handling snakes, even if you think they are non-venomous.
Do Snakes Attack Humans?
Most snakes do not attack humans and will avoid people in nature. Snakes are only aggressive in self-defense, so humans should not try to interact with these reptiles in the wild.
However, some snakes will attack humans if they feel threatened, and this can often happen if the person tries to catch or handle the snake. In general, it is best to leave snakes alone and admire them from a distance.
To lower the danger of being attacked by a snake, you should always scan the ground when walking in wooded areas to make sure you don’t step on this reptile accidentally or get close to it without it sensing you.
Snakes do not eat humans and prefer to avoid human contact as much as possible. However, the African rock python, Burmese pythons, Green anacondas, and Reticulated pythons are capable of swallowing a human but it’s extremely rare.
Snakes are unable to chew food because they do not have any teeth. They must use their jaws to squeeze food and swallow it whole. This means that if a snake eats a person, the person would need to be small enough for the snake to swallow easily.
For example, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute says this about Green anacondas: “They use their strong jaws to capture their prey, then use their muscular bodies to suffocate the prey before swallowing it whole. Like most snakes, they can detach their jaw to swallow prey much larger than themselves, though they are careful to weigh the risk of injury with large prey.”
Are Snakes Friendly?
You can visit our other guide about are snakes friendly to find out how nice these reptiles can be to people in the wild and at a zoo.
Snake Dangerous & Aggressive Summary
You now know the answer to the question about are snakes dangerous.
As you discovered in this guide, snakes do not eat humans or attack people unless they feel threatened. Therefore, are snakes aggressive or not depends on if these reptiles are being encroached upon by people in nature or in captivity.
I’m the lead editor and writer for Animal Answer Guide. I enjoy sharing expert knowledge on the various characteristics of common species within the five distinct groups of animals: amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles.