The inland taipan is the world’s most venomous snake, but this Australian taipan is so shy that hardly anything was known about it by Western science for nearly a hundred years after it was first described in 1879.

The inland taipan’s alternative name, ‘fierce snake’, points to the potency of its venom rather than its behaviour. The other Australian taipan that it shares a common ancestor with, namely the coastal taipan, is far more aggressive.

The inland taipan lives in the remote black soil plains of the outback where the borders of South Australia and Queensland meet.

The inland taipan is most active in the early hours of the day, when it surfaces to hunt for prey and to bask in the morning sun. After a few hours it retreats back into its shelter for the remainder of the day, although in cool weather it may show up above ground in the afternoon too.

The inland taipan has adapted to the extremes of the outback climate by dramatic seasonal changes in its coloration. The color of its back varies from a dark brown to almost black in winter. During the summer months it changes to a pale straw color.

These color changes allow the inland taipan to control its temperature, with the darker markings efficient at absorbing heat and the lighter ones good at reflecting it. The head of the inland taipan is much darker compared to the rest of the body, which makes it possible for the snake to warm up quickly by exposing only its head to the sun.

The inland taipan is one of the few Australian snakes to specialize in eating mammals. It will mainly prey on small to medium-sized rodents, especially the native long-haired rat (Rattus villosisimus), though it will also eat the plains rat (Pseudomys australis) and the introduced house mouse (Mus musculus). The venom of the inland taipan is considered to be the most lethal of any snake, surpassing even the venom of sea snakes. It has evolved over time to be especially effective in killing mammals, which also makes it extremely toxic to humans.

The venom from a single bite is said to be enough to kill at least 100 men. On top of its extreme neurotoxicity, the venom also contains an enzyme called a ‘spreading factor’ that speeds up the absorption. An untreated bite has the potential to kill a person in 30 to 45 minutes, which makes immediate medical attention critical. If provoked, the inland taipan curves its forebody into a raised S-shape in an attempt to fend off the offender. This threat display also prepares the snake for striking.

Credit : Active wild 

Picture Credit : Google 

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