The inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) is a venomous snake found in east-central Australia. It is considered by biologists to be the most venomous land snake in the world, with a bite that is reportedly 50 times more lethal than that of an Indian cobra. Despite their dangerous reputation, inland taipans are very reclusive and there has never been a report of a bite to a human other than to herpetologists actually handling the snake, with all bite victims surviving through the administration of antivenom.
Inland taipans are approximately 6-8 feet long and have scales that are brown or brownish olive-green depending on season. Dark chevrons are usually visible on the body and the head and snout are nearly black. Taipans change the shade of their skin seasonally, becoming lighter during the summer to reflect light and darker during the winter to absorb it.
The taipan’s diet consists of rodents, small mammals and birds. Native rats are common to much the inland taipan’s habitat, and in years where the rats are plentiful they become the snake’s primary food source. They hunt by stunning their prey with a single bite, after which the taipan retreats to a crack in the arid dirt or other safe place while its venom takes effect. Once the prey has expired the taipan will return to consume it.
Inland taipans usually mate between July and December, and can produce two clutches per year if the food supply is adequate. Typical clutch sizes are between 12-24 eggs, usually laid in a crevice or abandoned animal burrow. Eggs hatch after approximately two months.
INLAND TAIPAN FACTS
- The inland taipan is sometimes called the “fierce snake”. However, this name refers to the strength of its venom rather than its disposition.
Australian Reptile Park
University of Wisconsin BioWeb