Most people do not forget the name Inland Taipan after they hear about it once. Why? The reason is that this type of snake is widely regarded as the most venomous snake on the planet Earth.
The inland taipan has many common names including fierce snake, western taipan, and the small-scaled snake.
Danger to Humans:
Due to its very lethal, or deadly, venom, the inland taipan is considered very dangerous to humans. The venom from one bite contains enough poison to kill 250,000 mice or 100 grown men! Luckily for humans, the inland taipan is considered to be very shy and reclusive, rarely coming into contact with people.
Although one of the snake’s common names is a fierce snake, it gets the name for its venom instead of its personality. The inland taipan prefers to retreat from humans but will attack if it feels threatened. If a human is bitten, they must receive anti-venom within 30-45 minutes.
The inland taipan is endemic, or native, to Australia. They are generally found in very dry habitats and find shelter in animal burrows, as well as cracks in the soil. These resting spots not only offer a place to get away from the sun, but also provide protection from predators!
The inland taipan can reach lengths from 6-8 feet. Typically, inland taipans are a shade of brown on top with lighter colored bellies of yellow with orange blotches. The snake’s scales are distinct due to their black edges.
However, their overall color changes with the seasons! In the summer, their skin is lighter in order for the snake to stay cooler, but in the summer their skin darkens to collect more heat from the sun.
The inland taipan’s anatomy is very similar to other snakes’. Its scientific name, Oxyuranus microlepidotus, comes from the Greek language, meaning “having a long pointed tail” and “small and scaly”. Their fangs are relatively small, less than an inch in length.
The inland taipan’s favorite meal consists of rats. They also eat birds and other small mammals. Inland taipans swallow their food whole. The population size of inland taipans is directly linked to the population size of their food supply of rats. If there is a large population of rats, then there is a large population size of inland taipans. If there is a small population of rats, then there is a small population size of inland taipans.
- Special Adaptations: The inland taipan is so solitary and hard to find that scientists have found it hard to study. Although the first one was first discovered in the late 1800s, not a lot was known about the species until its rediscovery in 1972 by scientists. For over 90 years, these snakes played a masterful game of hide and seek with those who wanted to learn more about it! Inland taipans are mostly diurnal, which means they are active during the day. They are more active in the early morning hours when they hunt for small mammal prey around burrows. During hotter months, they can be active in the later afternoon or even at night.
- Reproduction: Inland taipans are oviparous, or egg-laying. Female inland taipans lay 12-24 eggs at a time. This group of eggs is called a clutch. Females can lay up to two clutches a year! The eggs are hidden in large cracks in the earth or even in animal burrows and are left to hatch on their own. After two months, baby inland taipans are born. The newly hatched inland taipans are born possessing deadly venom.
- Conservation Status: Presently, the inland taipan is not found on the list of the organization responsible for deciding the conservation status of all species on earth. In some parts of Australia, the only continent where it is found in the wild, it is labeled extinct. It is most commonly found in Queensland and South Australia, and, like all other Australian snake species, the inland taipan is protected by law.
Striking Statements of Fact:
- Inland taipans can bite up to 8 times in one strike.
- Although highly feared by humans due to its deadly venom, the inland taipan does have predators. The king brown snake and monitor lizard are both known to prey on inland taipans.