Inland Taipan

Inland Taipan

Western taipan, Small-scaled snake, Fierce snake

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Oxyuranus microlepidotus
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
10-15 yrs
LENGTH
1.8 m

The Inland taipan is an extremely venomous snake native to central east Australia. This snake is dark tan in color, ranging from a rich, dark hue to a brownish light-green, depending on the season. Its back, sides, and tail may be different shades of brown and grey, with many scales having a wide blackish edge. These dark-marked scales occur in diagonal rows so that the marks align to form broken chevrons of variable length that are inclined backward and downward. The lowermost lateral scales often have an anterior yellow edge. The dorsal scales are smooth and without keels. The round-snouted head and neck are usually noticeably darker than the body (glossy black in winter, dark brown in summer), the darker color allowing the snake to heat itself while exposing only a smaller portion of the body at the burrow entrance. The eye is of average size with a blackish-brown iris and without a noticeable colored rim around the pupil.

Distribution

Inland taipans occur in the semi-arid regions where Queensland and South Australia borders converge. In Queensland, they have been observed in Channel Country region (e.g., Diamantina National Park, Durrie Station, Morney Plains Station and Astrebla Downs National Park) and in South Australia these snakes have been observed in the Marree-Innamincka NRM District (e.g., Goyder Lagoon Tirari Desert, Sturt Stony Desert, Coongie Lakes, Innamincka Regional Reserve and Oodnadatta). An isolated population also occurs near Coober Pedy, South Australia. Inland taipans inhabit the black soil plains or floodplains, gibber plains, dunes, and rocky outcrops if the cover is available.

Inland Taipan habitat map

Geography

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Inland taipans are solitary and diurnal creatures. They are most active in the early morning, spending their time basking in the sun and foraging. The rest part of the day they spend in shelters. In cooler days they may also be seen in the afternoon. Inland taipans adapt to their environment by changing the color of the skin during seasonal changes. They tend to become lighter during summer and darker during the winter. This seasonal color change serves the purpose of thermoregulation, allowing the snake to absorb more light in the colder months. Although extremely venomous and capable strikers, Inland taipans are usually quite shy and reclusive snakes and prefer to escape from trouble. However, they will defend themselves and strike if provoked, mishandled, or prevented from escaping. Because they live in such remote locations, Inland taipans seldom come in contact with people.

Diet and Nutrition

Inland taipans are carnivores. They consume only mammals, mostly rodents, such as the long-haired rat, the plains rat, and the introduced house mouse.

Mating Habits

INCUBATION PERIOD
8 weeks
FEMALE NAME
female
MALE NAME
male
BABY NAME
snakelet
BABY CARRYING
12-24 eggs

The reproduction rate of Inland taipans depends in part on their diet: if there is not enough food, then these snakes will reproduce less. Females lay between 12-24 eggs in abandoned animal burrows and deep crevices. The eggs hatch two months later. In captivity, males reach reproductive maturity at 16 months of age and females become reproductively mature when they are 28 months old.

Population

Population threats

Main threats to Inland taipans include habitat loss and degradation. These snakes also suffer from the loss of their main food source, rodents. This happens mainly because of predation by non-native predators including cats and foxes.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Inland taipan total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Aboriginal Australians living in regions of central east Australia named Inland taipans Dandarabilla.
  • Unlike most snakes, the Inland taipan is a specialist hunter of mammals 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 fully grown men, and, depending on the nature of the bite, it has the potential to kill someone in as little as 30-45 minutes if left untreated.
  • The Inland taipan is an extremely fast and agile snake that can strike instantly with extreme accuracy, often striking multiple times in the same attack.
  • The word "fierce" from the alternative name of the Inland taipan describes its venom, not its temperament.

References

1. Inland Taipan on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inland_taipan
2. Inland Taipan on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/42493150/42493160

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