THE TAIPAN SNAKE
AUSTRALIAN TAIPAN SNAKE
Australia has over 30 different kinds of venomous (poisonous) snakes with the most venomous being the rare Inland Taipan, (also known as the Western Taipan, the Small-Scaled Snake or the Fierce Snake). There are two species of Taipan snakes in Australia, the Coastal Taipan and the Inland Taipan. The Inland Taipan is the most venomous snake in the world with the most toxic venom of any reptile known to man. It is estimated that one bite possesses enough lethality to kill at least 100 full grown men! Depending on the nature of the bite it has the potential to kill someone in as little as 30-45 minutes if left untreated.
The Inland Taipan is dark tan, ranging from a rich, dark hue to a brownish light-green colour depending on the season. Its back, sides and tail may be different shades of brown and grey, with many scales having a wide blackish edge. It averages 1.8 – 2.5 metres in length and it’s fangs are between 3.5mm and 6.2mm long (shorter than those of the Coastal Taipan). It is an extremely fast and agile snake that can strike instantly with extreme accuracy, often striking multiple times in the same attack and it envenoms in almost every instance. Although extremely venomous and a capable striker, in contrast to the rather aggressive Coastal Taipan, the Inland Taipan is usually quite a shy and reclusive snake with a placid disposition and prefers to escape from trouble. However, it will defend itself and strike if provoked, mishandled, or prevented from escaping.
Inhabiting the remote black soil plains in the semi-arid regions where the Queensland and South Australia borders converge the Inland Taipan seldom comes in contact with people therefore it is not considered the deadliest snake in the world overall. The word “fierce” from its alternative name describes its venom, not its temperament.
DIET AND BEHAVIOUR
In the wild, the Inland Taipan consumes only mammals, mostly rodents, such as the long-haired rat, the plains rat and the house mouse. Unlike other venomous snakes that strike with a single, accurate bite then retreat while waiting for the prey to die, the Inland Taipan subdues the prey with a series of rapid, accurate bites. It is known to deliver up to eight venomous bites in a single attack, often snapping its jaws fiercely several times to inflict multiple punctures in the same attack. Its more risky attack strategy entails holding its prey with its body and biting it repeatedly. This injects the extremely toxic venom deep into the prey and the venom acts so rapidly that its prey does not have time to fight back.