Inland Taipan Profile
The inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) is the most venomous snake in the world. The venom of one bite is strong enough to kill 100 men.
They are native to central and eastern Australia in dry areas and are commonly known as the western taipan, the small-scaled snake, or the fierce snake.
Inland Taipan Facts Overview
|Habitat:||Dry, open plains|
|Location:||Central and Eastern Australia|
|Size:||Average 2m, can reach 2.7m|
|Color:||Dark tan or light brownish|
|Diet:||Mammals, most often rats|
|Predators:||The mulga snake|
|No. of Species:
They hunt mammals, specifically various species of rat, with venom that is designed to be deadly to warm-blooded animals. They are most active during the cool hours of the morning and stay in the shade for the rest of the day.
While they are the most venomous, they are not the deadliest snake as they rarely come into contact with humans. There have been no recorded deaths since the creation of the anti-venom in 1955.
They are solitary, coming together only to mate. Females lay 12-24 eggs in crevices or abandoned burrows.
Interesting Inland Taipan Facts
1. They are the most venomous of all snakes
Tests using human cell cultures show that they are the most venomous of all tested snakes. The venom in one bite is thought to be enough to kill 100 adults. 1
2. They have evolved specifically to kill mammals
This is what makes them so venomous to humans as the toxins in their venom are designed to be deadly to warm-blooded animals. Symptoms of a bite include headache, vomiting, stomach pain, collapse, and convulsions.
3. They rarely bite people
So, while they are the most venomous, they are not the deadliest snake. This is because they live in areas where there aren’t many people. 2
4. The anti-venom was developed in 1955
An amateur studier of snakes called Kevin Budden was the first person to catch a live taipan snake and died in the process. His research was key for developing the anti-venom. 3
5. There have been no recorded deaths since the creation of the anti-venom
Essentially all bites from the inland taipan in recent years have been herpetologists studying the snakes, and none of these have been fatal.
6. They are not aggressive
Reptile handlers consider them relatively easy to work with as they are rarely aggressive. When encountering humans in the wild, they are most likely to run away.
7. They attack fast and strike up to 8 times
They strike at lightning-fast speed, with as many as 8 bites in one attack.
8. Their colour changes with the seasons
They become lighter in summer and darker in winter. This helps them regulate their temperature as darker colours absorb more heat, helping them stay warm in winter.
9. They have only one predator, the mulga snake
The mulga snake (Pseudechis australis) eats multiple snake species and is immune to the venom of the inland taipan snake.
10. They compete with large monitor lizards for food
The perentie is the largest monitor lizard in Australia. These giant lizards will aggressively compete with the inland taipan for food.
11. They lay 12 -24 eggs
They lay these eggs in abandoned burrows and they take 2 months to hatch.
12. They are protected by law, and designated ‘least concern’ on the IUCN Red List
Every snake in Australia is protected by law, and despite some habitat destruction, their population is not considered to be in decline.
Inland Taipan Fact-File Summary
Fact Sources & References
- Hodgson WC, Dal Belo CA, Rowan EG. The neuromuscular activity of paradoxin: A presynaptic neurotoxin from the venom of the inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus). Neuropharmacology. 2007;52(5):1229-1236. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2007.01.002
- Inland Taipan – The Australian Museum. Accessed April 27, 2021.
- Mirtschin P. The pioneers of venom production for Australian antivenoms. Toxicon. 2006;48(7):899-918. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2006.07.026