Big Four (Indian snakes)

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The four venomous snake species responsible for causing the greatest number of medically significant human snake bite cases on the Indian Subcontinent (mostly in India) are sometimes collectively referred to as the Big Four. They are as follows:[1][2]

  1. Common krait, Bungarus caeruleus
  2. Russell's viper, Daboia russelii
  3. Indian saw-scaled viper, Echis carinatus
  4. Indian cobra, Naja naja
Snakebites by species in India [3]

According to a 2020 study that did a comprehensive analysis of snake bites in India, Russell’s viper accounted for 43% of the snakebites in India, followed by kraits (18%), cobras (12%), hump nose viper (4%), saw-scaled viper (1.7%), and water snake (0.3%). The rest (21%) were of unidentified species.[3]


A polyvalent serum that effectively neutralizes the venom of all of the Big Four snakes is widely available in India, and is frequently administered to save lives.


  1. ^ Mukherjee, Ashis K. (2012). "Green medicine as a harmonizing tool to antivenom therapy for the clinical management of snakebite: The road ahead". Indian J Med Res. 136 (1): 10–12. PMC 3461710. PMID 22885258.
  2. ^ Whitaker Z. 1990. Snakeman. Penguin Books Ltd. 192 pp. ISBN 0-14-014308-4.
  3. ^ a b Suraweera, Wilson; Warrell, David; Whitaker, Romulus; Menon, Geetha; Rodrigues, Rashmi; Fu, Sze Hang; Begum, Rehana; Sati, Prabha; Piyasena, Kapila; Bhatia, Mehak; Brown, Patrick (2020-07-07). "Trends in snakebite deaths in India from 2000 to 2019 in a nationally representative mortality study". eLife. 9: e54076. doi:10.7554/eLife.54076. ISSN 2050-084X. PMC 7340498. PMID 32633232.