Australia’s justifiable reputation as home to the world’s deadliest snakes and spiders has been reinforced by the addition of another lethal snake, the Kimberley death adder, superbly camouflaged to lie among rocks or leaves.
Rather than scaring tourists off, the fact Australia possesses massive crocodiles, sharks, lethal reptiles and deadly creepy-crawlies adds a certain thrill to visiting the country, reinforcing its appeal as a wild and untamed part of the world.
The Kimberley death adder, Acanthophis cryptamydros, is about 50 centimetres long, with the diamond-shaped head typical of death adders.
The snake was identified in Western Australia’s Kimberley region some years ago, but herpetologists confused it with the better-known northern death adder.
The Kimberley death adder has now been revealed as a unique species. Like other death adders, it is highly venomous (hence the name) and specialises in ambushing its prey. You don’t want to tread on one.
Australia’s inland taipan, Oxyuranus microlepidotus, has long been confirmed by scientists as the world’s most venomous snake – by far. The inland taipan is also called the “fierce snake” but was better known to settlers as the “two-step snake”.
“If it bites you, you take two steps and you’re dead,” a snake expert explained.
Australian Reptile Park, however, reports that Australia’s eastern brown snake is the species responsible for most snakebite deaths in the country, “although, with the advent of efficient first-aid treatment and antivenom, there are now usually only one or two deaths per year”.
Written by Peter Needham