Animals / Reptiles / Snake Types / Australian Death Adder - One of the World's Deadliest Snakes

Australian Death Adder - One of the World's Deadliest Snakes

death adder


The Common Death Adder is found mainly on the East Coast of Australia, with other species found in other parts of Australia further south and also New Guinea. It is one of the deadliest snakes in the world. The kind of very toxic snake venom it injects is a postsynaptic neurotoxin which causes muscle weakness and paralysis. Fun stuff, although there is an antivenom, you may not want to try it. So, even though it is such a pretty snake, if you come across it, avoid the urge to touch it.

Its body is light brown, sometimes orange and yellowish, with darker brown stripes running from head to tail, and measures from 27 to 39 in (70 to 100 cm) on average. Its head is flat and triangular, boasting fangs longer than most other Australian snakes. It feeds primarily on small animals and birds.

The Australian death adder hunts in a very unique manner. Rather than the aggressive stalking other snakes display, this snake will camouflage itself in foliage and secretly lie in wait for its prey to approach. This can often take hours, or even days. As it waits, it dances its tail around its hidden head as a lure, hoping to catch the interest of any creatures nearby. This tendency to wait and hide makes the Australian death adder particularly dangerous; if encountered by a human, the snake will likely stay in where it is. Most snakes will attempt to hide if they hear a human approaching. This makes it very easy to unknowingly step on one hidden beneath the brush. Additionally, if provoked, the death adder will give chase. They are also terrific swimmers, and won’t hesitate to traverse right through the water to get to their prey.



aussie death adder


One very interesting fact about these snakes that should be noted is how they reproduce. Rather than lay eggs like most other snakes, the female Australian death adder gives birth to a live litter. This litter generally consists of about 15 to 20 baby snakes. These death adder youngins are born able to take care of themselves completely. This is fortunate, as the mother is of no help at all. After birthing, the female death adder instantly leaves the young snakes to fend for themselves; her main concern is finding her next meal!

Ironically for such a dangerous and exotic creature, the death adder’s main adversary in the wild is the cane toad. When the snake lures in and eats this small amphibian, it is unknowingly ingesting the cane toad’s poison, getting a toxic dose of its own kind of lethal medicine. The cane toad was introduced to Australia in the 1930s (to eat bothersome beetles but that didn't work anyway) and the poor snake hasn't yet learned not to eat the tempting blubbery meal.





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