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Top 10 Most Dangerous Snakes in Australia

Updated on November 22, 2016
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Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

A king brown snake, also known as a mulga snake. The mulga is one of the longest venomous snakes on the planet and is the second longest in Australia.  Despite its name, this snake is actually a member of the black snake genus.
A king brown snake, also known as a mulga snake. The mulga is one of the longest venomous snakes on the planet and is the second longest in Australia. Despite its name, this snake is actually a member of the black snake genus. | Source

Australia is notorious for being home to some of the most dangerous animals in the world, and when it comes to snakes, they certainly have some of the most venomous.

That said, like most wild animals, snakes generally will not harm you if you leave them alone. Most snakes do not desire a confrontation with humans and will try to escape if possible.

It is also not straightforward to rank snakes in terms of how dangerous they are. Some snakes can be potentially dangerous because they have a highly venomous bite, but they are shy and live away from humans; whereas other types are maybe less venomous, but live near humans and are more aggressive.

The amount of venom that a snake delivers when it bites can also vary considerably (human sensitivity to venom varies too). Other factors, such as the size of the fangs can also play a role.

Below is my top ten list for the most dangerous snakes in Australia.

Inland Taipan or Fierce Snake (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) at Australia Zoo.  Despite being the most venomous snake in the world, the snake is placid by nature and lives in remote areas.
Inland Taipan or Fierce Snake (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) at Australia Zoo. Despite being the most venomous snake in the world, the snake is placid by nature and lives in remote areas. | Source

#1 Inland Taipan (Fierce Snake)

The Inland Taipan, also known as the Fierce Snake, is considered to be the world's most venomous snake, and found in the semi-arid regions of central east Australia.

The Inland Taipan's venom is 50 times stronger than that of the Indian Cobra and potent enough to kill around 100 full grown men with a single bite.

Fast and agile, this snake can strike with deadly accuracy multiple times.

Despite its potent venom, bites on humans are rare due to the snake living in remote areas and being placid in regard to humans, preferring to escape if encountered.

How to Avoid Getting Bitten by Snakes

Do not touch any Australian snakes you encounter, unless you are sure that you know what you are dealing with and what you are doing.

Provide the opportunity for the snake to escape, don't make it feel trapped.

Be careful where you put your feet and hands, especially when walking in long grass, or reaching into places that you can't see.

Wear appropriate, solid footwear when walking in the bush.

Use a torch when walking around outside at night.

The eastern brown snake has highly potent venom.  However, it normally defends itself with a non-fatal bite, which means that the mortality rate for an untreated snakebite is only 10-20%, surprisingly low.
The eastern brown snake has highly potent venom. However, it normally defends itself with a non-fatal bite, which means that the mortality rate for an untreated snakebite is only 10-20%, surprisingly low. | Source

#2 Common Brown Snake (Eastern Brown Snake)

Fast and aggressive, the common brown snake, or eastern brown snake as it is also known as, is fast and aggressive. Its venom is the second strongest after the inland taipan.

These snakes eat mainly rodents, but they will also consume small birds, frogs, eggs, and other snakes.

Despite their aggressive hunting, the common brown snake will usually attempt to flee if it encounters a human.

If you are unlucky enough to be bitten by one of these snakes, the venom can cause cause diarrhea, dizziness, collapse or convulsions, renal failure, paralysis and cardiac arrest. Treatment should be straight away.

Native to northern and eastern coastal areas of Australia, the coastal taipan is the world's third most venomous snake.  This type of snake occurs only in Australia and the island of New Guinea.
Native to northern and eastern coastal areas of Australia, the coastal taipan is the world's third most venomous snake. This type of snake occurs only in Australia and the island of New Guinea. | Source

#3 Coastal Taipan

The largest venomous snake in Australia, coastal taipans typically reach a length of 3.9 ft (1.2 m) when fully mature, but can grow as long as 6.6 ft (2 m).

The world's third-most venomous snake, the coastal taipan's bite delivers a highly potent neurotoxin, which affects the nervous system and impedes the blood’s ability to clot.

Bites which aren't treated have a 100% mortality rate, as the snake always delivers a fatal dose of venom.

The common death adder normally grows to between 2.2 feet and 3.2 feet in length (70–100 centimeters).  Although common, its existence has been threatened by the ongoing Australian cane toad invasion.
The common death adder normally grows to between 2.2 feet and 3.2 feet in length (70–100 centimeters). Although common, its existence has been threatened by the ongoing Australian cane toad invasion. | Source

#4 Common Death Adder

Found in the forests, woodlands, grasslands and heaths of eastern Australia and the southern coast, the common death adder is a master of camouflage.

It hides under leaves and forest debris when hunting for prey and will sometimes wait for days on end to obtain a meal this way. It lures small mammals and birds by twitching its grub-like tail and strikes when they come to investigate.

Despite being highly venomous, the common death adder is not usually aggressive towards humans.

A common tiger snake in Banyule Flats Reserve, Melbourne.  It is illegal to export a native Australian snake and in most states, tiger snakes are a protected species, so it is illegal to kill or injure them.
A common tiger snake in Banyule Flats Reserve, Melbourne. It is illegal to export a native Australian snake and in most states, tiger snakes are a protected species, so it is illegal to kill or injure them. | Source

#5 Common Tiger Snake

Tiger snakes vary in color but are typically banded like a tiger, hence their name. They live in southern parts of Australia, including the coastal islands and Tasmania.

The common tiger snake grows to around 3 to 6.6 feet long (0.9 to 1.2 metres) and if threatened, flattens its body and raises its head, ready to strike.

A bite from one of these snakes contains enough venom to potentially kill a human. If untreated, the bite has a mortality rate of between 40 and 60%.

Lowland Copperhead at Gosford Reptile Park. These snakes vary considerably in color, including coppery mid-brown to yellowish, reddish, grey or black.  Despite its name, the snake doesn't always have a copper colored head.
Lowland Copperhead at Gosford Reptile Park. These snakes vary considerably in color, including coppery mid-brown to yellowish, reddish, grey or black. Despite its name, the snake doesn't always have a copper colored head. | Source

#6 Lowland Copperhead

Despite its name, the lowland copperhead is not closely related to the American copperhead. It lives in southeastern Australia, and Tasmania, eating frogs, lizards and snakes.

Its venom is neurotoxic and potentially fatal to humans, medical help should be immediately sought if you are unlucky enough to be bitten by one of these snakes.

Desert Death Adder at Taronga Zoo, Sydney.  In the wild, these snakes are most likely to be found in remote areas, amongst porcupine grass, stony flats, sandy ridges and rocky outcrops.
Desert Death Adder at Taronga Zoo, Sydney. In the wild, these snakes are most likely to be found in remote areas, amongst porcupine grass, stony flats, sandy ridges and rocky outcrops. | Source

#7 Desert Death Adder

Another Australian snake that ranks as one of the most dangerous in the world, the desert death adder is most active during the nighttime, using its long fangs and venom to subdue and kill prey.

Luckily these snakes don't usually bite unless they feel particularly threatened and the threat is very close by. If they do bite, the consequences can be serious, however.

One fascination fact desert death adders is that unlike most snakes, they give birth to live young, with as many as 13 live young produced in each litter.

Mulga snake at the Armadale Reptile Centre.  These snakes can be found in most Australian states.  They eat lizards, birds, small mammals, frogs and other snakes, including venomous types.
Mulga snake at the Armadale Reptile Centre. These snakes can be found in most Australian states. They eat lizards, birds, small mammals, frogs and other snakes, including venomous types. | Source

#8 King Brown or Mulga Snake

Known as the king brown, mulga snake, or the Pilbara cobra, this snake is one of the longest venomous snakes in the world.

Mulga snakes can reach lengths of 8.2 to 9.8 ft (2.5 to 3.0 m), although they are more usually closer to 4.9 ft (1.5 m).

Their venom is not as potent as with most of the other snakes in the list, but they produce it in vast quantities.

Mulga's are more aggressive than most other venomous snakes too, and have even been known to attack sleeping humans.

A Chappell Island tiger snake, showing its fangs.  The giant of the tiger snake species, this snake is dark in color in order to warm up quickly in the sun, as it is very cold on Chappell Island.
A Chappell Island tiger snake, showing its fangs. The giant of the tiger snake species, this snake is dark in color in order to warm up quickly in the sun, as it is very cold on Chappell Island. | Source

#9 Chappell Island Tiger Snake

The Chappell Island tiger snake is by far the largest of the tiger snake species, averaging over 6 ft (1.9 m) in length.

Although named specifically after Chappell Island, the snake can also be found on the majority of the islands of the Furneaux group of islands on the eastern side of Bass Strait, the two major islands being Flinders Island and Cape Barron Island.

The Chappell Island tiger snake has a blunt head and robust body and feeds on small birds and chicks, frogs, and small mammals.. Despite its potent venom, it is normally placid in its behavior towards humans.

Red-bellied black snake eating the eggs of a green tree snake near Dungog, Australia.  The snake feeds mainly on frogs, lizards and small mammals. They also eat other snakes, including other red-bellied black snakes.
Red-bellied black snake eating the eggs of a green tree snake near Dungog, Australia. The snake feeds mainly on frogs, lizards and small mammals. They also eat other snakes, including other red-bellied black snakes. | Source

#10 Red-bellied Black Snake

Found in eastern Australia, the red-bellied black snake can be found in woodlands, forests and swamplands, as well as urban areas.

It is less venomous than some of the other Australian venomous snakes, a bite still requires speedy medical attention. Antivenom is used to treat bites, which are not usually fatal to humans, mainly because the snake typically injects only small amounts of venom toxin.

© 2015 Paul Goodman

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