The inland taipan can give cobras and rattlesnakes a run for their money. If you have not heard about this species as yet, it’s only because of its restricted range.
Yeah I said, the most venomous! No king cobra and no black mamba! When it comes to the potency of venom, no other snake has the mettle to compete with the inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) found on the Australian continent.
Speaking of venom, this taipan species is capable of injecting 44 mg of venom with each bite. That, however, is just an average; there do exist cases wherein the inland taipan has delivered a lethal dose of 110 mg of venom in one shot. To add to it, the inland taipan’s venom is 200 to 400 times as powerful as that of rattlesnakes.
According to some studies conducted on mice, the venom of this species was found to be 68 times as potent as that of the king cobra and 740 times as that of the western diamondback rattlesnake. In the study, the number of mice killed by 1.7 mg of king cobra venom and 18.5 mg of rattlesnake venom equalled the number of venom killed by 0.025 mg of taipan venom.
Facts About Inland Taipan
The habitat of inland taipan spans the arid regions of central Australia. The reptile is a carnivore and so, its habitat depends on the population of animals on whom it preys. It can be spotted in abandoned burrows, deep fissures and crevices, sink holes, etc. Talking of its geographical distribution, it populates parts of southeast Northern Territory and west Queensland; northern regions of Lake Eyre and western regions of the Murray River, Darling River, and Murrumbidgee River.
The inland taipan feeds on birds, mice, lizards, small marsupials, and other small mammals. Apart from its excellent senses of smell and sight, the snake is also known to be an agile hunter. It delivers a bite to its prey in one quick move and retreats. Once the venom has done its work, it returns to safely consume its prey. Given the quick effect of the venom, the serpent does not have to wait for long for its meal!
Amazingly, this snake has the ability to adapt to seasonal changes by changing its color. In summers, you may find this creature with an olive coat and during winters, it becomes brown. This ability to take on a light coat in summer and dark coat in winter is known as ‘thermoregulation’. It helps the species absorb more light during the colder months.
The inland taipan is often compared with the infamous black mamba. However, when it comes to the potency of venom, the latter stands no chance. On the other hand, when it comes to being fast, aggressive, and deadly, well, no snake is more notorious than the mamba.
To conclude, although the inland taipan holds the undisputed title of the most venomous snake on land, it is not really a threat for humans, primarily because of its shy and reclusive nature. The snake’s first line of defense against any trouble is to escape. However, when cornered or threatened, it may have no other choice, but to go on the offensive. In fact, data shows that Australia records only 2 – 3 inland taipan-related deaths each year.