Australia’s Deadliest Snakes

By Reptile Encounters/26 August 2013

Reptile Encounters does not only care for venomous animals, but we also get a lot of questions about them!  Australia is actually home to 9 of the 10 deadliest snakes in the world, and you can read about five of the top deadliest snakes found in our country below.

1. Brown Snake

There are two main varieties of brown snake – the eastern and the western. One of Australia’s deadliest creatures, it has a venom that, when left untreated, sends humans to a quick death. Even young brown snakes have venom that is toxic enough to deal a fatal blow to humans unfortunate enough to be struck by this deadly reptile.

The eastern brown snake is responsible for more deaths in Australia than any other snake. Their venom is the second-deadliest in the world and, unlike treating bites from other poisonous snakes, humans bitten by this snake may require several doses of anti-venom to prevent death. While the western variety is less aggressive and their venom less toxic, a bite from this reptile delivers three times the amount of venom of other poisonous snakes. The western brown snake has small fangs which produce painless bites that are often difficult to find.

2. Tiger Snake

The tiger snake sticks to the southern areas of Australia. Despite being one of the deadliest snakes in the world, it is not usually aggressive and prefers fleeing to attacking. The tiger snake is protected in most states across the country, and causing harm to this venomous reptile could yield fines that add up to thousands of dollars! They are often found on farms or living outside suburban homes where they hunt mice, which makes it easy to accidentally step on one in the dark.

Those unlucky enough to suffer a bite from the tiger snake have less than a 50% chance of surviving without anti-venom. Left untreated, a bite from a tiger snake is fatal, so it’s a good thing anti-venom for tiger snake bites is readily available! The tiger snake is recognisable by its banded body with stripes that range in colour from pale yellow to black.

3. Taipan SnakeTaipan's stare

Whether it is the inland or costal variety, the taipan snake is large, fast, and highly poisonous. Out of all the poisonous snakes in the world, the inland taipan has the most toxic venom in comparison, with the potential to put an adult human to death in less than an hour. Inland taipans prefer to hide out in rocky areas where they hunt for rats and other small rodents, where they can avoid humans.

Coastal taipan snakes have the longest fangs of any other snake in Australia. Their lightweight bodies allow them to strike several times in succession. Until the anti-venom for this snake was developed in the mid-1900s, bites almost always resulted in death. Like their inland cousins, the coastal taipan prefers avoiding humans and is commonly found along the eastern coast of the country.

4. Mulga Snake

Commonly mistaken with brown snakes, mulga snakes prefer being out during cooler temperatures, whether at night or during the day. Some mulga snakes in the southern part of the country have even been seen basking during the winter! When a mulga snake bites down, it clamps its fangs into its victim and chew while delivering up to 15 times the amount of venom delivered by the average tiger snake.

5. Lowlands Copperhead

The lowlands copperhead is found in the colder climates of Australia. Although they do not actively seek contact with humans, they do love water and are at home around locations like storm drains, canals, and dams. If cornered, this otherwise shy snake will lash out in warning. Fortunately for humans they are slower to strike than other venomous snakes and often have terrible accuracy.

Out of the hundred or so species of venomous snakes that call Australia home, only a dozen or so secrete venom that is toxic enough to prove fatal, if left untreated. Fortunately anti-venom is available for each of the reptiles listed above.