Any of about 200 species of venomous snakes (family Elapidae) that have short fangs fixed in the front of the upper jaw. Elapids are found in the New World, Africa, southern Asia, Pacific Islands, and Australia. Slender and agile, most are small and harmless to humans, but they include the largest and most lethal of snakes. Their venom is primarily neurotoxic but often contains substances that damage body tissues or blood cells. The relatively painless bite may cause a swift death from paralysis of the heart and lungs. See also black snake, cobra, coral snake, mamba.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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