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Australian Snake Identification and Snakebite Incidence

Updated on July 5, 2010
The Inland Taipan found in arid regions of central Australia considered to be the venomous land snake on Earth.
The Inland Taipan found in arid regions of central Australia considered to be the venomous land snake on Earth.

Did you know that 20 of the 25 most venomous snakes in the world are found in Australia? Australia is the only continent where venomous snakes (70%) outnumber non-venomous ones. Australia's deadliest snakes are the brown snakes (responsible for around 60% of deaths caused by snakebite) and the venomous land snake on Earth (tested on mice) is the Inland Taipan found in arid regions of central Australia.

Cool Companions offer courses in reptile keeping and snake handling.

Snake identification

According to Tropical Topics newsletter produced by Stella Martin at the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, there are six main snake families in Australia--elapids (venomous snakes, the largest group), colubrids ( mostly 'harmless' snakes) pythons, blindsnakes, file snakes and sea snakes.

A major classification of Australian venomous snakes taken from the University of Sydney Discipline of Anaesthesia community articles include Brown Snake, (Eastern, Gwardir, Dugite), Taipan, Tiger Snake, Death Adder, Copperhead, King Brown Snake (Mulga snake), Redbellied Black Snake, Rough Scaled Snake, and Inland Taipan (Small Scaled snake).

Some of Australia's venomous snakes

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dugite Brown SnakeCoastal Taipan snakeMainland Tiger snakeThe Death AdderCopperhead snakeThe King Brown snake (Mulga snake)Red-bellied Black SnakeRough-scaled SnakeSmall-scaled or fierce snakeA collage of venomous snakes *copyright venomousreptiles.org
Dugite Brown Snake
Dugite Brown Snake
Coastal Taipan snake
Coastal Taipan snake
Mainland Tiger snake
Mainland Tiger snake
The Death Adder
The Death Adder
Copperhead snake
Copperhead snake
The King Brown snake (Mulga snake)
The King Brown snake (Mulga snake)
Red-bellied Black Snake
Red-bellied Black Snake
Rough-scaled Snake
Rough-scaled Snake
Small-scaled or fierce snake
Small-scaled or fierce snake
A collage of venomous snakes *copyright venomousreptiles.org
A collage of venomous snakes *copyright venomousreptiles.org
The iconic Australian Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin has also an inclination for snakes, but the cause of his death is not from snakebite.
The iconic Australian Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin has also an inclination for snakes, but the cause of his death is not from snakebite.

Identification and snakebite incidence

Identification or description of the snake is very crucial because not all snakes are venomous, and because different kinds of anti-venom exist for every species of snake. Doctors may use a Snake Venom Detection Kit (SVDK) to determine the specific type of snake by examining the traces of venom left in the bitten area.

It is estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 people die of snake bite each year around the world. By comparison, in Australia, it is estimated snakebites incidence are between 3 and 18 per 100,000 with an average mortality rate of 4 per 100,000 per year.

Some deaths are sudden, however it is uncommon to die within four hours of a snake bite. If untreated, high levels of venom could cause death in a short time. Despite of this, very few deaths result from snake bites because of the availability and wide access to anti-venom in recent years.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mechanics of snake biting Number of snake envenomings and fatalities worldwide. *source Wikipedia article on snakebite
Mechanics of snake biting
Mechanics of snake biting
Number of snake envenomings and fatalities worldwide. *source Wikipedia article on snakebite
Number of snake envenomings and fatalities worldwide. *source Wikipedia article on snakebite
Researchers are milking venom from snake to be used in treating patients by making anti-venom solutions.
Researchers are milking venom from snake to be used in treating patients by making anti-venom solutions.

Snakes should be treated with respect

Snake venoms are a complex mixture of polypeptide and other molecules that adversely affect multiple homeostatic systems within their prey in a highly specific and targeted manner. Amongst the most potently toxic venoms in the world are these major Australian venomous snakes.

These hypercarnivore reptiles are celebrated for centuries in history and religion as a highly-symbolic animal. Modern studies have been made to understand there biology and behavior. Snakes are shy by nature and will only bite animals or humans if they feel threatened or looking for food. Subsequently, most snakebites occur when people try to catch or kill them.

Afraid of snakes? Gotta' learn how love them. Watch this clip from the amazing Rob Bredl.

Feel free to leave your comments

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    • profile image

      Fiercesnake 

      8 years ago

      Idiot! I agree, what was he trying to accomplish? Teaching respect would be better than removing fear. Fear is there for a good reason, to protect the body. I understand what he is suggesting in that MOST reptile species tend not to be aggressive, but don't bet on it! Try working in the rice-fields of Bangladesh, India or Thailand and tell all the widows not to be scared of cobras or the like. Typical idiot farang! Seriously, use common sense!

    • profile image

      bl 

      8 years ago

      Well, I watched it; STILL TERRIFIED OF SNAKES! I can pick up a lizard, but DON'T you try & tell me it's the same as a bloody snake! & DON'T tell me it won't bite!- tell that to the dead dogs, horses & people! What a lot of bullshit! You don't have a space where I can say NOT USEFUL!- when I tried it ticked "useful" - surtainly NOT!

      I SURTAINLY DON'T GET WHY PEOPLE HAVE TO SAVE DANGEROUS CREATURES! & don't try & tell me they eat mice & stuff! so do cats!- rather be surrounded by 20 wild cats than one snake! Get REAL! GET A GUN! & GET RID OF DANGEROUS TO MAN CREATURES!

      JUST HOW WAS THIS VDO SUPPOSED TO HELP????????

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