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Inland Taipan Fact File

Appearance

Inland Taipans are highly variable in their colour ranging from tan through to olive-green. They may also be grey or reddish brown. Their body scales have a black edge which forms diagonal patterns along the body. Their head is darker in colour than the body often being brown or black and round in shape on the snout. This allows them to bask by just putting their head out of the burrow. The underside of the inland taipan is cream or yellow. They have a large eye with a round pupil and a blackish-brown iris.

Their colour changes with the seasons and this often quite a dramatic change. They will be darker in winter to help them warm up easier.

They measure an average of 1.8m (5.9ft) long though some large individuals may reach 2.5m (8.2ft)

Diet

The inland taipan is a carnivore. They feed almost exclusively on small mammals in the wild. In captivity they have been known to eat birds.

One of their main food sources is the plain rat and they are adapted to the life cycle of these rats which allow them to feast when they are in plague proportions.

Due to their highly potent venom they will grab prey and inject the venom then hold it till it is dead and can be swallowed. This is unlike most snakes who let go of their prey to avoid injury as the prey typically has time to struggle while the venom takes effect.

inland taipan

Scientific Name

Oxyuranus microlepidotus

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Length

1.8m (5.9ft)

Lifespan

Average 10-15 years

Record 20 years

Diet

Carnivorous

Range

Australia is the native home of the inland taipan. Here they can be found throughout the interior of the east of the country. They live in the states of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Previously they may have been found in Victoria but it is now presumed extinct there.

Habitat

Inland taipans are found in dunes and rocky outcrops. They are primarily found in cracked clay and loamy soils. Typically the areas they live in has low amounts of vegetation.

They hide within the soil cracks of their habitat along with occupying mammal burrows.

Reproduction

Breeding takes place in late winter and through to spring. Males have been observed fighting presumably for mating rites with the body intertwined and lashing out at one another as time goes on. The goal is to push the head of the opponent to the ground with the first to do so being the winner.

Females lay a clutch of 12-20 eggs in to the abandoned burrow of another animal or in to a soil crack. This normally occurs 2 months after mating. Older individuals will typically have larger clutches.

These are incubated for 9-11 weeks. At hatching the young will be 47cm (18.5in) long.

More inland taipans will be born in years where the population of native rodents is high. In some years they will have 2 clutches of eggs in the same breeding season.

The mother will abandon the nest soon after egg laying and the hatchlings are on their own from birth with no parental care.

Sexual maturity is reached at 1 ½ years for males and a little over 2 years for females.

inland taipan

Behaviour

Inland taipans bask in the sun to warm up. Their dark head can assist with this allowing them to stay concealed in their body while the head sits in the sun and warms the body.

Almost all of their activity takes place during the day with most taking place in the morning and the snake returning to their burrow for the afternoon. In cooler weather they may remain active for the entire day.

Predators and Threats

Mulga snakes are capable of eating the inland taipan due to their larger size.

For most predators the inland taipan is able to defend itself with their highly potent venom. These snakes are considered the world’s most venomous land snake though at the time of writing no deaths had been recorded in humans. This is mostly as a result of their isolated range away from human populations.

This venom is capable of killing a human in hours unless an antivenin is applied to the victim. In lab tests there venom from a single bite has been estimated to be capable of killing 250,000 mice or 100 humans.

Humans have very little effect on the population of inland taipans as they rarely encounter them. A small number may be taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Quick facts

The inland taipan is also known as the small scaled snakes, western taipan or fierce snake.

Photo Credits

Top

XLerate/ CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Bottom

AllenMcC./ CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

References

Swason, S. and Parish, S., 2011. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.

Sutinis, B., 2014. Discovery Snaeopedia. 1st ed. Des Moines, Time Home Entertainment

Wilson, S., Dickman, C., Hobson, R. & Sanderson, C. 2018. Oxyuranus microlepidotus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T42493150A42493160. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-1.RLTS.T42493150A42493160.en. Downloaded on 23 June 2020.

Australian Reptile Park - Wildlife Park Sydney & Animal Encounters Australia. 2020. Fierce Snake Habitat, Diet & Reproduction - Reptile Park. [online] Available at: <https://reptilepark.com.au/animals/reptiles/snakes/venomous/fierce-snake/> [Accessed 23 June 2020].

Beatson, C., 2020. Inland Taipan. [online] The Australian Museum. Available at: <https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/reptiles/inland-taipan/> [Accessed 23 June 2020].

Environment.nsw.gov.au. 2020. Fierce Snake - Profile | NSW Environment, Energy And Science. [online] Available at:

<https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=20169> [Accessed 23 June 2020].

Billabong Sanctuary. 2020. Inland Taipan. [online] Available at: <https://www.billabongsanctuary.com.au/inland-taipan/> [Accessed 23 June 2020].

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