All snakes should be considered dangerous do not handle any snake.
Australia has around 121 species of land snakes. Of the 121 snake species, some 100 Australian snakes are venomous to some degree, with about 25 that pose some danger to man. Only 12 are likely to inflict a wound that could kill you.
Australia can lay claim to at least eight of the world’s ten most venomous snakes. In the generally accepted order of deadliness these are taipan, tiger snake, death adder, king brown snake, brown snakes and copperhead.
In Australia there are about 3,000 snake bites per year, of which 200 to 500 may receive antivenom. On average two or three will usually prove fatal. About half the deaths are due to bites from the brown snake; the rest mostly from tiger snake, taipan and death adder. Some deaths are sudden, however it is uncommon to die within four hours of a snake bite.
Before the advent of polyvalent antivenoms it was extremely important to positively identify the snake. Although less important now, it remains highly desirable, because snake-specific antivenoms are less hazardous to the patient than polyvalent antivenoms. Snake identification can be very difficult if the snake was seen only fleetingly or in poor light. Scale patterns and colours can be quite unreliable, especially for brown snakes.
The good news is that venom identification kits, can often accurately identify the type of snake within 30 minutes, and thus more reliably and safely reduce the need for administration of polyvalent antivenom. Because of this, it is vitally important that the bite area is not washed
Most snakes are not naturally aggressive and generally prefer to retreat. Usually they will only attack humans if hurt or provoked – most bites occur when people try to kill or capture snakes. If you come across a snake in the bush, just calmly walk the other way.
For details on initial First Aid treatment
NOTE: These pages are not intended as a comprehensive guide to the identification or regional locations of Australian snakes, but rather as a general guide. Colouring differs markedly even within regions. All snakes should be viewed as being dangerous and should not be touched or interfered with. Should you encounter a snake in your back yard, do not attempt to capture of kill it, but contact an expert handler. National Parks and Wildlife should be able to assist with that information. All Native snakes are protected species.
Common or Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis
Found all over Australia. This snake has extremely potent venom, despite only a injecting a small quantity of venom. Responsible for more snakebite deaths in Australia than any other type of snake. Sudden and relatively early deaths have been recorded.
Habitat: Forests and woodlands, heath. Status: Common Size: 2 m
Taipan Oxyuranus scuttelatus
Found mostly along the non-desert areas of north and north-east Australia (from Brisbane to Darwin). A large, slender aggressive snake. Colouring may be any shade of brown. Always has a rectangular head that is large in proportion to the body. Venom deposit is high. Paralysis is difficult to reverse if not treated early. Left untreated, a bite will almost always be fatal.
Habitat: Forests and woodlands. Status: Common Size: Over 2.8 m
The amount of venom retrieved from just one milking from one taipan is sufficient to kill many million mice.
Tiger Snake Notechis scutatus
The tiger snake lives in the temperate southern areas of Australia, extending down the east coast from around Brisbane and along the west coast north of Perth. Dependent upon time of year and age of the snake, the characteristic stripes are not seen all year round. A totally black variant is found around the Flinders Ranges area of South Australia. The mortality rate of untreated bites is around 45%.
Habitat: Moist, even swampy environments Status: Common Size: Up to 2 m.
Death Adder Acanthopis antarcticus
The death adder is a smaller snake, averaging around 600mm long , but up to 1.1m in some areas. Has a distinctive diamond shaped head with a thickened body tapering to a short stubby tail. Rapid strikers and may bite several times. It may be striped.
Habitat: Most of mainland Australia, except Victoria Status: Common Size: 1.1 m
Despite being one of the most dangerous snakes in Australia and the world, the venom from Cane Toads can kill Common Death Adders.
Rough Scaled Snake Tropidechis carinatus
The rough scaled snake is found mostly in non arid coastal areas of Northern NSW and Southern Queensland. It may be striped, and hence confused with the tiger snake. It is extremely ill-tempered. Known to climb.
Habitat: Moist habitats including creek banks and rain forest. Status: Common in some areas Size: Up to 1.07 m
Copperhead Austrelaps superbus
The copperhead is found in Tasmania, Victoria, and the western plains of NSW. Despite its large venom output, bites are rarely fatal.
Habitat: Swampy or marshy areas Status:Common Size: Up to 1.5 m
King Brown or Mulga Snake Pseudechis australis
The king brown (or mulga) snake is found in all arid parts of Australia, and has the greatest venom output, but with relatively low toxicity. It has a strongly defined dark crosshatched pattern on its scales. Is more closely related to the black snakes than the brown.
Habitat: Arid areas Status: Common Size: Up to 2.5 m
Small Scaled or Fierce Snake Oxyuranus microlepidotus
The small scaled snake (sometimes called the inland taipan or fierce snake) has the most potent venom in the world. Largely restricted to relatively uninhabited areas of south-western Queensland. Due to its remoteness, few people get bitten. Use taipan antivenom.
Habitat: Sparsely populated black soil floodplains of south-west Queensland and adjacent areas in South Australia. Status: Rarely encountered Size: Up to 2.5 m
Redbellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus
The redbellied Back snake is found in all eastern non-arid areas. The venom is not as potent as most. This snake is one of the most common on the south coast of Australia.
Habitat: Forests and woodlands and grassy areas. Status: Common Size: Up to 2 m.
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