While many tourists are convinced, the popular suggestion that Australia is the home of the world's deadliest snakes is largely a myth with the risk of bites and death far greater across Asia, Africa and South America, the CSIRO says.
Herpetologist Ruchira Somaweera says the myth was born a few decades ago and came out of a study of the relatively high toxicity levels found in Australian species, like brown snakes.
But Dr Somaweera says the study didn't include many well-known highly dangerous snakes from other continents and, even more importantly, had little relevance to humans.
"If you look at the amount of people who actually die (in Australia) from snakes each year, it's practically nothing, the encounter rates are so low in comparison to other parts of the world." he said.
"Factors such as the quality of antivenom, our paramedical services and knowledge of first aid is really good here in Australia which contributes to the negligible number of human deaths."
By comparison in parts Asia, Africa and South America there are a group of snakes called Vipers which are large, aggressive and common.
Worse still, encounter rates and bites are high in agricultural lands due to limited preventative knowledge such as appropriate footwear and little first aid training.
Dr Somaweera said there are an estimated one million venomous snake bites globally every year.
In India alone, about 10,000 people die.
"In the neighbouring island of Sri Lanka, an estimated 80,000 people get bitten by snakes annually, of which about 400 lose their lives," he said.
"It's clearly a massive issue and a real threat in other parts of the world, especially Asia, compared to Australia."
To present a more realistic picture, scientists have come up with a more relevant concept of dangerous snakes in Australia which is based on the actual threat posed on human lives.
Species such as brown snakes and tiger snakes top the list as they are relatively common in urban areas and can be aggressive if confronted.
Brown snakes are also considered potentially more dangerous because they are daytime active so encounter rates are higher.
But, like the comical warnings about drop bears and stories of spiders as big as dinner plates, Dr Somaweera said many misconceptions about snakes and reptiles in Australia remain, especially among tourists.
"It's all good fun but the truth is often quite different," he said.
Australian Associated Press