The Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus), is a venomous snake of the taipan genus commonly found in semi-arid regions of central east Australia.
The inland taipan is not just a venomous snake it's considered the most venomous snake in the world by many people. When compared drop for drop and based on the median lethal dose (LD50) value in mice, its venom is by far the most toxic of any land snake or even sea snakes.
Although extremely venomous and a very capable striker, contrary to the rather aggressive nature of its relative the coastal taipan, this serpent is usually quite a shy and reclusive snake species. With its placid disposition it prefers to escape from trouble, but it will defend itself and strike if mishandled, provoked or prevented from escaping.
But it first makes a warning display by raising its forebody in a tight S-shaped curve with their head facing the threat if the warning is ignored it will strike. This is an extremely fast and agile snake species that can strike instantly and accurately, and will often strike multiple times in one attack, and it envenoms in almost every single case.
Unlike most other snake species, the inland taipan evolved as mammal hunter so its venom is ultimately designed to kill warm-blooded prey, just like us.
The maximum yield recorded from a single bite of Inland Taipan is 110 mg and the venom is so toxic that just one bite is enough to kill at least 100 human adults or 250 thousand mice.
Depending on several factors a bite if left untreated as the potential to kill someone in as little as 30 to 45 minutes. Its venom is about 50 times more toxic that the king cobra venom.
But since it lives in very remote regions, the inland taipan hardly ever comes in contact with humans. It is therefore definitely not regarded as the most deadly snake on the planet overall, specifically when it comes to temperament along with the number of human fatalities annually.
This species is also known as western taipan, small-scaled snake or fierce snake.The word "fierce" from its common name fierce snake, is used to describe its venom, not their temperament.
Despite the fact that the inland taipan has the most toxic snake venom in the world, they are hunted and killed by other animals. Like the king brown snake (Pseudechis australis) that is immune to most Australian snake's venom, and the perentie (Varanus giganteus), the largest Australian monitor lizard, which will attack large venomous snakes for prey.
The species was first described in the late 1800's, but it became a bit of a mystery to science for the next 90 years, nothing was added to knowledge of this snake until its was rediscovered in 1972.
It's one of the 3 species in its genus, the other are the Coastal taipan and the recently discovered (2007) the Central Ranges taipan.The species is primarily diurnal and are most active in the early morning, basking and foraging, but in cooler weather they may also be found active in the afternoon.
The inland taipan averages a length of approximately 6 ft (1.8 m), but larger specimens can reach up to 8 ft (2,5m) in length. The inland taipan colour is dark tan, that ranges depending on season from a rich, dark hue to a brownish light-green.
The back, sides or tail may be colored in different shades of brown and grey, with many of scales possessing a blackish edge. The head and neck are darker than their body. The inland taipan or fierce snake adapts to the surrounding environment by changing the colour of their skin during seasonal changes.
They have a tendency to become lighter throughout summer and darker in the winter season. This helps with their thermoregulation, allowing the snake to absorb more heat in the colder months of the year.
In captivity these snakes normally live for 10 to 15 years, in the wild is difficult to determine their longevity. Their fangs are between 3.5 to 6.2 mm long, being shorter than those of the Coastal taipan.
Diet / Feeding
The inland taipan feeds mostly on rodents, such as the long-haired rat, the plains rat or the introduced house mouse and other small to medium-sized mammals but also on birds.
Despite the fact that many other venomous snake species strike with a single bite and then retreat, waiting for their prey to die, the fierce snake kills its prey with a series of rapid, accurate bites.
It can deliver up to 8 venomous bites in a single attack by holding its prey, injecting the extremely toxic venom deep into the victim, the venom acts so quickly that it doesn't have time to fight back.
This snake species is oviparous, the female lays between 1 and 24 eggs, usually in abandoned animal burrows or deep crevices. The eggs hatch after two months. The hatchlings have a total length of around 47cm long. This species reproduction rate is dependent partially on their diet, when there isn't much food they will reproduce less.
Conservation / Threats
Like every other Australian snake species, the inland taipan is protected by law, but their conservation status has yet to be assessed by the IUCN Red List. Their conservation status according to various Australian official sources varies from least concern, near threatened to extinct or presumed extinct depending on the region.
Did You Know?
Found in South America the green anaconda is, considered the largest snake in the world.