This page is in no way comprehensive and is only intended to give a brief overview into the keeping of venomous animals. I'd just like to provide some education into these fascinating animals.
Although these types of animals are dangerous, they are also very interesting. They cover all areas of the world and all types of terrains. From the Arctic (Northern Adder) to the desert (Saw Scale Viper), they are amazingly adaptable and successful. Slipping into complacency is not an option when keeping these animals.
Take a look at this Western Diamondback bite to see what the consequences are.
Responsibility is a must. Thrill seekers need not apply.
North American Venomous
If you live in North America, there are three main types of venomous snake. Agkistrodon (Cottonmouth, Copperhead), Crotalus (Rattlesnake), and Micrurus (Coral)
There are 27 species of Rattlesnakes. Only snakes to evolve rattle although many snakes have the tail vibrating behavior. Size varies from the Pygmy rattlers that only reach 18 inches up to the Eastern Diamondbacks that may reach up to 84 inches.
Mildy venomous to extremely venomous. A staple of many keepers collections.
Eastern Diamondback C.adamanteus
These gorgeous predators are the largest venomous species in North America and can reach up to 84" . They have no natural enemies and are the top of the food chain. They range from North Carolina south and west into Louisiana. The Eastern Diamondback was almost selected as the National Animal of the U.S (instead of the Bald Eagle)
Western Diamondback C.atrox
Western relative of the Eastern Diamondback, these guys are very aggressive. Ranging from Arkansas all the way to Southern Cailfornia, these snakes are responsible for a lot of bites. They will stand their ground and defend themselves vigorously. Not for beginners.
Banded Rock Rattlesnake C.lepidus klauberi
These are very attractive and reasonably sized (24") animals. My personal favorite rattlesnake along with the Mottled Rock rattlesnake. They favor high rocky ground and are rarely seen. Named for Laurence Klauber, who wrote the definitive study on rattlesnakes.
Panamint Speckled Rattlesnake C.mitchelli stephensi
Another favorite, moderately sized animal reaching between 2-3 feet in length. These guys are great in captivity, it was hard to get mine to rattle. Nice captive animals.
Located in the southeast, this animal prefers brackish waters to live in. Famous for flashing the inside of its mouth to warn you away. Hence the name 'Cottonmouth'. These guys can deliver a fairly potent bite and it's best to let them be. Bright colored neonates that become dark as they age.
Very mildly venomous, 5 species, very common and will bite in a second. Western species seem to have a higher venom toxicity and are much smaller than the Northern and Southern Copperheads. These guys are great captives, although they could lull you into complacency.
Babies are always cute. Even when they come fully loaded.
Coral snakes can be quite pretty, but they are related to the cobra family so these guys are nothing to play around with. Generally very shy and slow to bite. Often confused with the kingsnakes that mimic the coloration of the Coral. Remember "If red touches yellow, kill a fellow, red touches black, venom lack"
These snakes are very difficult to keep and you won't find them in many collections.
Rest of the World
Elapids - Cobras and their allies. These animals are among the most venomous of all snakes. These include Taipans, Sea Snakes, all cobras, Kraits and Mambas. These animals are the most common in Asia, Africa, and Australia.
King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
The King. The grandest of all the snakes, they build nests, protect them, can reach 18 feet and can stand eye to eye with a 6 foot man. Wow.
Kings have a bad reputation that they don't deserve, truly an amazing species. Curiosity is sometimes mistaken for aggression with this species.
Note the very large scales on the King Cobra's head. These snakes also feed almost exclusively on other snakes. Hence the Latin name Ophiophagus (Snake eater)
They have enough venom to kill an elephant in 3 hours.
Black Mamba Dendroaspis polylepis
This snake deserves its reputation. Meet the Black Mamba, one of the most fearsome animals in the world. They will defend themselves very aggressively and they possess a virulent venom. A potentially terrifying combination. These snakes have my total respect. African species, not to be trifled with. Need very large (think room size) enclosures in captivity.
True Vipers - These 'Old World' animals do not have the heat sensing pit that their N.A. brethren do. They are found all over Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Gaboon Viper Bitis gabonica
African ambush predators. They look very brightly colored until they are buried in leaf litter, then they are invisible. These guys don't get long, they get large.
Think 20 lbs at only 5-6 feet in length.
This was the only animal I have ever kept that made me nervous. They literally don't seem to move for days then simply explode into action.
Another reason to be nervous, a full grown animal may have fangs that exceed 2.5" in length and can deliver a staggering amount of venom in a bite.
Tree Vipers - IMO, the most beautiful of all the snakes. Ceylonese, Wagler's, Eyelash, Bush Vipers. These guys have amazing coloration, and manageable size. My favorite to keep of all them. South America and Asia
Rear Fanged snakes - Only two of these animals are dangerous to man. The Twig Snake and the Boomslang. The other snake of this genre that I like is the Mangrove. Beautiful display animal.