The Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) is the most venomous snake in the world. Its fangs contain enough poison to kill a hundred adult men with one bite, but it is not an aggressive breed of snake. It is mainly nervous and reclusive, rarely attacking humans if not provoked.
We’ll explore some really interesting Inland Taipan facts and explain everything there is to know. We’ll look at the appearance, average size, weight, length, aggressiveness, and venomosity of this breed. We’ll also tell you where you are likely to encounter an Inland Taipan Snake.
Other Inland Taipan Names
- The Fierce Snake
- The Lignum Snake
- The Small-Scaled Snake
- The Western Taipan
Each of these names is used interchangeably by experts. The name Fierce Snake refers to the breed’s potent venom, not its temperament. This snake is shy.
Lignum is a reference to the color of an Inland Taipan. It can resemble lignum wood, aka snakewood.
The small-scaled snake will be self-explanatory when you look at a picture of the breed.
The Latin name of the Inland Taipan, Oxyuranus microlepidotus, translates to small-scaled and sharp-pointed tail.
What Does the Inland Taipan Snake Look Like?
- The Inland Taipan Snake has very small scales.
- It varies in color. During the winter months, it will usually be a deep, tanned brown. In the summer, however, the snake lightens to an olive shade, almost akin to straw. This is an evolutionary quality that helps the snake stay warm in the winter. The darker scales attract and retain more light, preventing the reptile from growing too cold. The lighter tones of their summer skin enable the heat to bounce off a Taipan’s skin.
- The head and tail are darker than the rest of the body. Again, this is to ensure that essential parts of the anatomy retain heat.
- The average length of an Inland Taipan Snake is six feet. They can reach as long as eight feet, though. The average weight of these snakes varies wildly, depending on the availability of food. This snake is always muscular and lithe, enabling it to move quickly. There is no difference in size and weight between males and females of the species.
- The fangs of the Inland Taipan Snake can be up to 6mm in length.
- Unlike most venomous breeds, the eyes look round.
This breed is sometimes confused with members of the Brown Snake family. Taipans were assumed to belong to this genus until 1972, and they certainly look very similar.
The Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) is almost as venomous as the Inland Taipan. Thankfully both breeds are equally shy and nervous, and thus unlikely to attack humans unless provoked.
Where Does the Inland Taipan Snake Live?
The Inland Taipan Snake is native to the Australian outback. It’s extremely unlikely to be found in the wild elsewhere. The Inland Taipan likes to dwell away from the sea and coast. It leaves that territory to the similar, but considerably more aggressive, Coastal Taipan Snake (Oxyuranus scutellatus).
The Inland Taipan Snake loves to burrow and hide from the scorching heat. This means that it will often be found hiding under rocks or in animal burrows. This breed does not climb trees or seek out bodies of water. They prefer arid conditions.
It is most active early in the morning before the sun gets too hot. The breed is adaptable, however. In the height of summer, it becomes nocturnal for its own safety.
Is the Inland Taipan Snake Venomous?
The Inland Taipan is the most venomous snake in the world. The venom of this breed is fifty times more potent than the much-feared King Cobra.
Despite their lethal nature, these snakes are not aggressive. Like most reptiles, they are even more afraid of humans than we are of them.
The Inland Taipan Snake is largely reclusive and avoids any human contact. They will not attack you on sight, preferring to escape to avoid trouble.
This is not to say that this snake is harmless, though. If an Inland Taipan Snake feels threated or cornered, it will defend itself. This will not end well for anybody, so don’t take any chances.
If you happen upon an Inland Taipan in the wild, do not approach it under any circumstances. If you stay calm and back away, it’s likely that the snake will take the opportunity to escape.
Could the Inland Taipan Snake Kill a Human?
This breed is nowhere near large enough to consider humans a food source due to their size. But the Journal of Herpetology explains how one bite could kill a hundred healthy adults.
If an Inland Taipan has bitten you, you will need to act quickly. The snake’s venom can be fatal in as little as 45 minutes. Call your nearest emergency services if bitter by an Inland Taipan.
How to Tell if an Inland Taipan Snake is Going to Bite
As this breed of snake does not want confrontation, it offers a warning before striking. If the Inland Taipan feels threatened, it curls into an S shape and rears its head.
Back away. Do so quickly enough to get away, but not so fast that you spook the snake. If it senses sudden movement, the snake may strike out at you.
If this happens, movements are rapid and they can bite several times. Each time they sink their fangs into you, they’ll release more venom. You could be in grave danger.
Have I Been Bitten by an Inland Taipan Snake?
The symptoms of a bite from an Inland Taipan Snake include:
- Loss of control of facial muscles (eyes and mouth in particular)
- Lack of muscle control and inability to maintain coordination
- Profuse and constant bleeding from the site of the wound
- Convulsions and tremors
- Loss of consciousness
- Cardiac Arrest
These symptoms are not unique to the bite of the Inland Taipan Snake. They could apply to any venomous snake attack.
What to Do if Bitten by an Inland Taipan Snak
A Taipan bite is not something that should be taken lightly. In the unlikely event that one of these snakes attacks and bites, you have around 30 minutes to seek medical help.
They may need to source a specialist antivenin. Depending on how far away you are from the ER, you may also need an air ambulance. Remember, time is of the essence in this instance. First aid in the event of a Taipan bite involves the following steps:
- Keep the victim calm. An elevated heart rate will cause the venom to spread even faster.
- Let the bite victim lay down flat. Keep the bitten part of the body below the heart.
- Wrap a very firm bandage around the bitten area. If it was the hand, bandage the entire arm.
- Apply a splint to the impacted area to prevent the limb from bending or flexing.
- Ensure that the victim remains very still until they are taken to a hospital. Upon arrival, the victim will need to be treated with antivenin designed for a Taipan bite. This is devised by the Australian pharmaceutical company Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
Never attempt to extract the venom yourself by sucking it. This will result in two people ingesting lethal toxins. As the venom of the Inland Taipan acts so quickly, that is the worst possible outcome.
Should I Kill a Wild Inland Taipan?
- If you leave an Inland Taipan alone, they will return the favor. These snakes are very shy.
- Inland Taipan Snakes control the rat population, which could otherwise reach unsafe levels. They are an essential part of the Australian ecosystem.
- If you attack an Inland Taipan Snake, they will defend themselves and strike.
- The Inland Taipan Snake is protected by law in Australia. Although its population is of least concern in the Outback, this is not the case elsewhere. The breed is deemed Near Extinct in Queensland, and Extinct in New South Wales and Victoria.
Inland Taipan Snake vs. Coastal Taipan Snake
The Coastal Taipan Snake (Oxyuranus scutellatus) is also known as the Common Taipan and Eastern Taipan. This breed dwells in wetter climes than the Inland Taipan.
It’s usually found in and around the Queensland area, enjoying a tropical climate and marshy woodland territory. However, this breed of snake can survive away from the ocean. As long as the temperature remains above 68O, this reptile will flourish.
The Coastal Taipan is slightly less venomous than the Inland, but not by much. It’s also considerably more belligerent and must be avoided at all costs. It may initially be nervous but is more likely to attack when afraid.
You can detect a Coastal Taipan Snake by their size as it is the largest venomous snake in Australia. As a result, they are more substantial than the Inland Taipan. Like the Inland Taipan, this snake changes color based on the season.
The Coastal Taipan will be dark brown, bordering on black, during the winter. This will fade to a lighter shade of tan in the summer. Their head and tail are lighter than those found on the Inland Taipan, too. This breed of snake also has much larger fangs that the Inland, growing up to 12mm.
The Coastal Tapian has a broadly similar diet to the Inland Taipan. This snake also feeds on small mammals and rodents. The Coastal Tapian may feed upon lizards if desperate, but this is rare. Food tends to be plentiful for this breed of snake, as they live in more densely populated areas.
When hunting and following common rats and mice, these snakes may end up in a backyard. If you happen across a Coastal Tapian, notify animal control immediately. Do not attempt to handle them yourself! Thankfully, this is very unlikely to happen in the United States.
Inland Taipan Snake vs. Central Regions Taipan Snake
The Central Regions Taipan Snake (Oxyuranus temporalis) is the most recently uncovered member of the Taipan family. As Australian Geographic explains, this breed was not discovered until 2006. Initially, it was mistaken for a Western Brown Snake.
Not a great deal is known about the Central Regions Taipan Snake, due to its scarcity. Initially, only one of these snakes was retained in captivity.
Over time, several more have been found and housed in Australian zoos. These creatures also subside on small mammals and rodents, and their scale colors adjust with the seasons.
The temperament of these snakes in the wild has not been observed. This will no doubt change over time, as herpetologists can now recognize the breed on sight.
Within the next few years, expect more information about the Central Regions Taipan to come to light. Based on the Inland and Coastal Taipans, it’s safe to assume this breed is highly venomous.
What Does the Inland Taipan Snake Eat?
The Inland Taipan is hardwired to hunt and eat mammals. This is why they can sometimes be prone to struggling for food. Very few warm-blooded animals thrive in the Australian Outback, and the Taipan will not eat lizards or other snakes.
The staple diet of the Inland Taipan Snake is native rats. These are known as Plague Rats or Long-Haired Rats (Rattus villosissimus.) The problem that the snake faces is that the population of these rats spikes and drops.
Sometimes food will be abundant, ensuring that the Inland Taipans can increase their number. At others, the rats will be hard to come by, leaving the Taipans struggling.
If there are limited numbers of rats available, an Inland Taipan will look elsewhere. Kultarrs (small marsupials found in Australia) and mice are also considered a delicacy.
An Inland Taipan snake that lives in captivity will have a more varied diet. Such a snake may find themselves eating baby chicks, rabbits and other small mammals.
How Does the Inland Taipan Snake Hunt and Feed?
Many snakes have poor eyesight. This is not the case for the Inland Taipan, as this breed can see comparatively well.
However, they still use the same hunting instincts as other snakes. These are based upon observing sudden movements, then relying upon the Jacobson’s organ to identify prey.
When an Inland Taipan picks up prey in their field of vision, they will stalk it using their tongue. Like all snakes, this breed uses their tongue to ‘smell’ potential food.
By flicking their tongue, snakes taste the presence of a nearby mammal. This sends a message to the brain that food is nearby. They will then forget about anything else until they have fed.
Let’s imagine that the Inland Taipan Snake senses a rat nearby. Assuming the snake is hungry enough to hunt, it will stalk the rodent.
Once it is close enough, the snake will lunge quickly. The rat will be immobilized almost immediately by the Taipan’s venom, and will not take long to die.
This snake may also hold the prey with their body. Not being members of the constrictor family, the Inland Taipan does not kill by asphyxiation.
Instead, they continue to bite and strike at high speed. This breed does not strike, back off, then strike again like most snakes. Instead, an Inland Taipan can bite up to eight times in one strike. This ensures that the animal will be dead before the snake starts to eat.
The Inland Taipan Snake will swallow their prey whole. The snake will then crawl on its belly, forcing the meal further down into its body. After eating, Inland Taipans will bask and hide out for several days while slowly digesting.
They will typically complete this process in an abandoned animal warren to avoid being disturbed. The Inland Tapian will emerge to bask in the sunlight. Snakes require a comfortable temperature to digest their food, as being too cold can cause problems.
It will not hunt by water, or climb trees to catch prey. They will stick firmly to the ground, seeking their meals there. These snakes will typically need to eat at least once a month, ideally more frequently. The food source for these snakes can sometimes be rare.
This means that an Inland Taipan Snake may feast upon multiple animals while supply is plentiful. They will also eat more toward the end of winter before the mating season begins.
Natural Predators of the Inland Taipan Snake
Although it can defend itself with venom, the Inland Taipan is still prey for some animals. However, there are only two other animals that feed upon the Inland Taipan Snake.
- King Brown Snake. Just because the Taipan resembles this snake, it does not make them friendly. King Brown Snakes (aka Mulga Snakes) are immune to Taipan venom, and roughly the same size. King brown snakes will eat other snakes.
- Perentie. This giant lizard is native to the same parts of Australia as the Inland Taipan. Resembling a cross between a Komodo Dragon and a Crocodile, Perenties have a varied carnivorous diet.
The Inland Taipan is too large and heavy to act as food for birds of prey. The speed at which this snake moves – along with its reclusive tendencies – also enhances safety.
In many respects, the most dangerous opponent of this snake is a moving vehicle. The outback is home to some powerful vehicles, and Taipan roadkill is not an uncommon sight. As fast as these snakes are, they cannot outrun a 4×4 with a determined driver.
What is the Lifespan of the Inland Taipan Snake?
An Inland Taipan Snake kept in captivity can be expected to live between ten and fifteen years. One example lived in an Australian zoo for over twenty years, though.
A well-fed snake that is not subjected to any stress should live a long and contented life. This lack of stress must include minimal human interaction.
The species is so reclusive that it’s hard to know how long they live in the wild. Remember that this snake is a prey animal to other wildlife, and food can be scarce.
Traveling vehicles can also harm the Inland Taipan Snake. This makes it safe to assume that they may not live as long outside of captivity.
How Does the Inland Taipan Snake Reproduce?
The Inland Taipan has a particular mating season. This is the only time that this reptile spends time with other members of its species.
Male Taipan’s reach sexual maturity after around sixteen months. It takes females of the species a little longer. They are usually ready at around 24 months.
Mating season for the Inland Taipan is between August and December – springtime in the Southern hemisphere. When this season arrives, males will parade before females in an attempt at winning their approval. If two male Inland Taipans seek the attention of the same female, they will fight.
This will involve wrestling, possibly for several hours, until a winner is declared. The victor will be entitled to mate with the female. However, female Inland Taipan Snakes may choose to mate with multiple partners during their season.
They will only mate if they are sufficiently well fed and energized, though. If food has been scarce and the snake is not feeling energized, they will avoid laying eggs.
A female Taipan will lay up to twenty eggs, two months after the mating season concludes. She will typically choose to do this somewhere private, such as another animal’s abandoned warren.
Taipans will not stay with their eggs and watch or guard them. Once laid, the eggs – and hatchlings – are left to fight their own battles. The baby Taipans will usually hatch after around two months.
Can the Inland Taipan Snake be Kept as a Pet?
No matter how placid and calm this breed of snake is, they have bad days too. As one bite has the potential to be lethal, it seems like a pointless risk.
It’s also illegal to keep a deadly snake without a permit in many States. If you are considering a pet Taipan, you will already be experienced enough to know this.
- Ensure that the snake is comfortable in their vivarium. Discomfort will cause stress, and a stressed snake is more likely to bite.
- Double-check that the enclosure is secure. If an Inland Taipan was to escape into the suburbs, all hell would break loose. You may find yourself legally liable for anybody that is hurt.
- Never attempt to handle the snake by yourself. Always have an experienced snake handler with you, in case something happens.
- Never leave any exposed skin while handling the snake. Wear gloves, long sleeves, and any other protective clothing possible.
- If the snake shows signs of distress while being handled, return it to its habitat immediately.
- Check that your local emergency room holds the appropriate antivenin for the Inland Taipan.
The Inland Taipan snake is not a pet. If you want to take a look at these creatures, visit a zoo. In the United States, the following locations display the breed in captivity:
- Dallas Zoo
- Reptile Gardens, South Dakota
- Kentucky Reptile Zoo
- Animal World and Snake Zoo, Texas
Various locations throughout Australia and Europe also host the Inland Taipan Snake. These nations include the United Kingdom, Russia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden, and Germany.
Like all breeds of snake, the Inland Taipan is beautiful and fascinating in its own way. In addition to this, it’s very shy and docile.
It’s unlikely that you would encounter this snake in the wild, and they prefer to hide. More Australians are killed by bee stings than snakebites in the average year.
An Inland Taipan’s strike is as fast as lightning, and time will be of the essence. The potent venom in this snake’s fangs can be countered with an antivenom, but you’ll need to be very fast.