The Top Books on Venomous Snakes you should read

On this list, you will find my personal favourite Book and Literature List on Venomous Snake. I have been fascinated by these creatures for many years and have read a great and wide range of different types of Literature and Book on the topic. Here, I will introduce you to my personal favourites that I think every snake lover or venomous snakes enthusiast should have read or studied. Of course, keep in mind that books cannot make you en expert on a topic and along with reading books and literature, I suggest getting practical experiences with the animals you are interested in. I personally think that captive care of an animal you are fascinated about is the perfect way to study the animal and get to know it.


Now lets start with some Books that will Give you a great overview of the classification of venomous snakes and great basic knowledge about these misunderstood animals.

Venomous Snakes: Snakes in the Terrarium (Vol 2) by Ludwig Trutnau – Review

  • Completely revised and expanded edition
  • Includes 171 species accounts
  • Detailed description of each species
  • Focuses on captive care of venomous snakes
  • 129 color pictures
  • Published in 2004
  • 340 Pages
  • Price: $97.99 on


Ludwig Trutnau’s “Venomous Snakes: Snakes in the Terrarium” has been considered the classical work on venomous snake husbandry in German-speaking countries for years, and is now finally available in English.

This book is an absolute must have for any venomous snake enthusiast. However, one should be careful about the Latin classification of the species portrayed. Since the book was published in 2004, it does not follow the most recent classification details. Also, the book does not offer any taxonomic keys and contains little taxonomic information and knowledge. Basic information is provided in the beginning of each species description, including aspects like appearance and distribution, but it is kept rather short. There is hardly any information on the biology of the discussed taxa. Nevertheless, it includes the full description of more than 150 species of venomous snakes, including behaviour, reproduction, captivity and other aspects of their lives. It is truly fantastic and gives any enthusiast a great insight into the world of venomous snakes. In fact, some taxonomic revisions in recent years have been updated in the English version and were outdated in the original German edition.

The book is written specifically for herpetoculturists, and therefore focuses on captive husbandry techniques and propagation data for each of the species. The species accounts also include relevant information on the behavior and demeanor of the given taxa. On these topics, the book offers more relevant information than any other work I have seen in recent years.

It is a must for any herpetoculturist and venomous snakes enthusiast, and you can get yours HERE!

The next three books are best presented together – they are all Terralog editions that present all the species and genera of (true) venomous snakes (Viperidae and Elapidae) in a given area, which is really fascinating and cool to have.

TERRALOG: Venomous Snakes of Europe, Northern, Central and Western Asia, By Gernot Vogel and Patrik David – review

Terralog: Venomous Snakes of Africa, By Maik Dobiey and Gernot Vogel – review

Terralog: Venomous Snakes of Asia, By Gernot Vogel – review

The “Terralog; Venomous Snakes of …” series are three books that present photographs of the Venomous snakes of their assigned region. All these works are mainly photographic and do not feature a lot of text. Each taxa is described at the beginning of the book in a small essay form, but from there on there is only a Latin classification, the distribution and basic information along with the images of each species.

However, in my opinion, these books are great for hobbyists who want to have the pictures of all the species around. Gernot Vogel and his Co-workers put in a lot of effort to get the images of even the rarest and most recently described species on each continent. Some if his photographs feature some of the rarest snakes in the world and in great quality.

This book may not be the most comprehensive guide to the biology and behaviour of venomous snakes, but it is one of the greatest checklist of venomous snakes and a must for any venomous snakes enthousiast and hobby herpetologist. You are not going to learn a great deal about these animals apart from taxonomy and distribution of the species, but it is still one of my all time favourite and go to works if I want to look up a species or remind myself of the beauty of these animals.

Many people think that the book is overpriced at $74, which is why you can get them all together at only $224 HERE!

The next book i want to introduce is my all time favourite work on Venomous snakes. Not only is it troughout and detailed, it is also on my favourite family of snakes – the ones that got me started on this passion: Old World Vipers!

Old World Vipers, A Natural History of the Azemiopinae and Viperinae Hardcover review by Tony Phelps, 2010 

  • Edition Chiamara 2010
  • More than 400 pages
  • Color Images
  • English
  • Detailed description of each species
  • Easy and comfortable to read
  • Price: $89.95 on



“Old World Vipers, A Natural History of the Azemiopinae and Viperinae” by Tony Phelps is in my opinion one of the best works on venomous snakes for the average reptile enthousiast you can possibly get. It written in an engaging and comfortable style, which makes it easy to understand and enjoy for just about anyone.
It also succeeds in reaching a very high standart in enducation, which makes it interesting for both the average hobbyist and also the expert on venomous snakes. Tony Phelps has worked with Vipers all his life, especially with the European Vipers (Vipera Berus) and he shares some of the most recent discoveries and taxonomic revision in this work. However, there is one recent revision this book does not follow – the Viperinae have been seperated into the Viperinae and the Causinae.

The book offers a nice introduction and general description on the life and behaviour of Vipers, including their ranges of habitat, feeding behaviour and reproduction. Secondly, Tony introduces every species seperately, giving brief information on appearance, observations, habitat, feeding and venom composition, which gives the reader a nice impression of each species and makes the book very easy and interesting to follow. Lastly, Phelps goes into more detail on the composition of Viper Venoms and their effect on their prey, which is incredibly fascinating, but includes difficult terminology. Nevertheless, also this section is interesting to follow for just about anyone. Phelps offers detailed knowledge on Venom effects, treatment and antivenin production and effects, which gives anyone a great basic understanding of the complexity and brilliance on venoms.

In conclusion, this book is a must for anyone who loves Vipers and wants to get familiar with venomous snakes, their venoms, biology and taxonomy. If you consider yourself a venomous snake enthousiast, get one HERE now!



2 Replies to “The Top Books on Venomous Snakes you should read”

  1. I love snakes. When I was a kid I caught dozens in the wooded area around our house. A 6 foot pilot black snake got loose in our basement and we bumped into it off and on for 6-7 years.

    I feel like I have a fair amount of knowledge about North American snakes, but I have been living in Asia for several decades where I tend to follow the basic rule that every one I run across in the wild is deadly, so perhaps I have inordinate fear of an animal that I would like to know better. I should pick up the book on venomous snakes of Asia.

    Here in China I don’t find many snake hobbyists. When I see snakes that are kept here, they are usually for eating.

    1. Hi there, 

      As time progresses, I think you will get more and more comfortable with the animals around your new home! However in China, I advise you to study carefully what snakes are potentially a threat and which species are harmless since there are so many that look ver similar to each other! 

      Unfortunately, it is indeed very uncommon that people from this area appreciate the beauty of snakes.

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