The Fierce Snake / Inland Taipan Facts – Questions and Answers

The Fierce Snake / Inland Taipan Facts – Questions and Answers

The Fierce Snake / Inland Taipan Facts!
Questions and Answers – Venomous Snakes Of The World!

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Photo of a Fierce Snake (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) taken at Australia Zoo. Photo by XLerate, GFDL

Out of more than 3000 species of snakes in the world, only around 600 are classified as venomous. That makes just about 20% of the entire snake population. Even so, the venomous snakes of the world have cast fear into the hearts of many throughout the decades, such as the inland taipan. What is the inland taipan? Is it really fierce? Is it the most venomous snake in the world? Let’s take a look.

Q: Where is the inland taipan found?

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General range of inland taipan (in red). Image credit: Taipan198, cc2.5

A: The inland taipan can be found in just one country in the world – Australia. In particular, it can be found in Queensland and South Australia, which comprises a large part of the Australian outback. It is mostly found in the semi-desert areas where it hides under rocks or in the cracks of the dry soil.




Q: How long is the inland taipan snake?

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Image credit: AllenMcC., cc3.0

A: The inland taipan is a large snake that can grow up to 8 feet long, although most are between five and six feet long. It is olive-colored in the summer and dark brown in winter with dark, smooth scales arranged in diagonal rows. The color change is an adaptation which allows the inland taipan to absorb more heat in winter and less heat in summer.

Q: What do inland taipans eat?

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Inland Taipan Diet. Credit: http://www.actwild.org.au/

A: The diet of the inland taipan consists mostly of native rats, particularly the long-haired rat. When there are plenty of long-haired rats, inland taipans grow large and fat. However, during drought, long-haired rats are scarce and inland taipans must feed on other rats, as well as mice, quolls, numbats and birds.

Like other snakes, the inland taipan is an ambush predator that silently stalks its prey and then strikes when the time is right. Unlike other venomous snakes, though, the inland taipan doesn’t just deliver a single bite and then wait for the animal to die from the venom. Rather, the inland taipan delivers up to eight bites in a single strike, then holds its prey. Now, this may seem dangerous since prey usually fight back. But not for the inland taipan. The venom is so potent that the prey has no chance to put up a fight and the inland taipan swallows it whole without a fuss. A relatively effortless meal, don’t you think?

Q: Does the inland taipan have predators?

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A mulga snake or King Brown Snake (Pseudechis australis), on the Western Cape, Western Australia. Image credit: Smacdonald, cc3.0

A: As fearsome a predator as the inland taipan may be, it has predators of its own. The inland taipan is eaten by the king brown snake, which is immune to its venom, and the perentie, the fourth largest living lizard which can grow over 8 feet long, as well.

Q: Do inland taipans lay eggs?

A: Inland taipans are among the oviparous snakes, which means it lays eggs, usually in burrows abandoned by mammals or in deep, wide cracks in the soil. They can lay as many as 20 eggs or as few as 11, the average being 16. They can produce two clutches of eggs in a year, especially if there is a lot of food.

The eggs hatch after 9 to 11 weeks and the newly hatched snakes are around 18 inches long. They do not receive any parental care but already possess a deadly dose of venom with which to hunt and defend themselves.

Q: Is the inland taipan endangered?

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A: The inland taipan has not been assessed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). However, it is considered as Near Threatened or Rare in Queensland and classified as a species of Least Concern in South Australia. It is protected by law and a special permit is required to capture it, as well as a separate special license to own it.

Q: Why is the inland taipan called the fierce snake?

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Photo of a Fierce Snake (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) taken at Australia Zoo. Photo by XLerate, GFDL

A: One of the alternative names of the inland taipan is the fierce snake, making it even more fearsome. Fierce, however, in this case does not mean aggressive. Rather, what is fierce is not the snake’s temper but its venom, which is highly toxic.

The scientific name of the inland taipan is Oxyuranus microlepidotus. Oxyuranus comes from the Greek words oxus, oura and anus which, combined, mean ‘having a long-pointed tail’. Microlepidotus is a combination of the Greek words mikros meaning ‘small’ and lepidotos meaning ‘scaly’. Therefore, another name for the inland taipan is small-scaled snake.

Q: Is the inland taipan the most venomous snake in the world?

A: The inland taipan is widely considered to be the most venomous snake in the world. What this means is that its venom is the most deadly.

The venom of the inland taipan is a complex combination of toxins, including neurotoxins or those that affect the brain and nervous system, procoagulants which make blood clot, myotoxins which affect the muscles and nephrotoxins which affect the kidneys. What makes this combination even worse is the addition of hyaluronidase, an enzyme which speeds up the absorption of the venom.

Aside from its quantity, the quality of the inland taipan venom is also deadly. There is enough venom in a single bite to kill 250,000 mice or 100 fully grown men. And remember, when the inland taipan bites, it doesn’t just do it once, but several times in rapid succession. Also, the inland taipan does not deliver a dry bite, like other venomous snakes, which means its bite is always laced with venom.

Let us be clear, however, in saying that while the inland taipan is the world’s most venomous snake, it is not the world’s deadliest snake. To be a deadly snake, you need more than just lethal venom.

Q: Is the inland taipan more dangerous than the coastal taipan?

Coastal-Taipan
Coastal Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus scutellatus). Image credit: AllenMcC. cc3.0

A: There is another taipan living in Australia – the coastal or common taipan, cousin to the inland taipan. Like the inland taipan, it is venomous. It is larger, however, able to grow up to 11 feet long and is more widely distributed. Whereas inland taipans prefer dry areas, coastal taipans prefer wet areas, such as wetlands, forests and grassy plains.

Is the coastal taipan more deadly? While its venom is not as toxic as that of the inland taipan, the coastal taipan is considered more dangerous than its cousin because it is larger, more easily encountered and more aggressive, striking quickly when threatened.

Q: How many people have been killed by the inland taipan?

A: Yes, an inland taipan can definitely kill, but it actually hasn’t. In spite of the toxicity of its venom, there has been no single fatality recorded from the bite of an inland taipan. Only one bite is recorded per year, sometimes none at all, and the victims are usually adults healthy enough to travel through the outback. This means they have a better chance of surviving a snake bite from the start and with the treatment widely available, they are able to recover.

Q: Why is a fierce snake bite so uncommon?

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A: A fierce snake bite is not at all common since fierce snakes live far away from people and are usually only active in the early morning. Also, inland taipans are shy snakes. When encountered by humans, they flee and hide rather than fight back.




Q: What happens when you get bitten by an inland taipan?

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Most common symptoms of any kind of snake bite poisoning by Mikael Häggström, PD image.

A: Upon getting bitten by a fierce snake, you will experience a headache, nausea, abdominal pain or dizziness within minutes. As time passes, you will find it hard to move and breathe until you become completely paralyzed, collapse, have convulsions and eventually succumb to organ failure. Death can happen in as short as 45 minutes without treatment.

If you are bitten by an inland taipan, then remove yourself first from striking distance, call for an ambulance or have someone drive you to the nearest hospital and while waiting, apply a compression bandage to restrict the blood flow and position yourself in such a way that the bite area is below your heart. Once you get to the hospital and receive antivenom, consider yourself saved, though it can take you weeks before you get out of the hospital depending on the severity of the bite.

Inland taipan are featured in the following books:
25 Most Deadly Animals in the World
25 of the Most Poisonous Animals in the World!.
25 Awesome Snakes
25 Australian Animals
101 Facts… Desert Animals


The YouTube video below is a collection of videos about the inland taipan. The list of videos featured is underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. Steve Irwin Plays With Inland Taipan (Fierce Snake) by amorlombresias
  2. Deadliest snake in the world by 601ProductionLTD
  3. worlds most venomous poisonous snake by Gotcha29
  4. Teenager Survives “Most Venomous” Snake Bite by NTDTV

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inland_taipan
http://australianmuseum.net.au/inland-taipan
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Inland_Taipan
http://www.reptilepark.com.au/animalprofile.asp?id=112

To view the complete list of sources, click here…

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