Australia's inland taipan is considered to be the most venomous snake in the world. The venom from one bite is enough to kill 100 fully grown men. It is, however, very rare for humans to be bitten and in the few cases that have occurred, anti-venom treatment has been successful. Small rodents, mammals and birds are not so lucky. The inland taipan has a rapid accurate strike, delivering the extremely toxic venom deep into its prey. The taipan just has to wait for its victim to die before returning to consume the meal. This snake exhibits dramatic seasonal changes in skin colour. It is light in summer and dark in winter and this helps regulate its body temperature.
Scientific name: Oxyuranus microlepidotus
The Inland taipan can be found in a number of locations including: Australia. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.
The following habitats are found across the Inland taipan distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
The inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus), also commonly known as the western taipan, the small-scaled snake, or the fierce snake, is a highly venomous snake of the taipan (Oxyuranus) genus, and is endemic to semi-arid regions of central east Australia.Aboriginal Australians living in those regions named the snake Dandarabilla. It was first described by Frederick McCoy in 1879 and then by William John Macleay in 1882, but for the next 90 years, it was a mystery species to Western Science. No more specimens were found, and virtually nothing was added to knowledge of this species until its rediscovery in 1972.
Its venom, drop for drop, is by far the most toxic of any snake in the world – much more so than even sea snakes. Unlike most snakes, the inland taipan is a specialist mammal hunter so its venom is specially adapted to kill warm-blooded species. It is estimated that one bite possesses enough lethality to kill at least 100 full grown men, and, depending on the nature of the bite, can kill someone in as little as 30 to 45 minutes if left untreated. It is an extremely fast and agile snake which can strike instantly with extreme accuracy, often snapping its jaws fiercely several times to inflict multiple punctures in the same attack.
Although highly venomous and a capable striker, contrary to the rather aggressive naturedcoastal taipan, the inland taipan is usually quite a shy and reclusive snake, with a placid disposition, and prefers to escape from trouble. However, it will defend itself and strike if provoked, mishandled, or prevented from escaping. Also because it lives in such remote locations, the inland taipan seldom comes in contact with people; therefore it is not considered the most deadly snake in the world overall, especially in terms of disposition and human deaths per year. The word "fierce" from its alternative name describes its venom, not its temperament.
Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.
Animal kingdom record breakers - how fast can a cheetah run, how heavy is an elephant and what's bigger than a dinosaur? Watch amazing video clips from the BBC archive and uncover the fascinating facts about our smallest primate, the longest stick insect and the most venomous snake.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.