The Inland Taipan is the snake with the most toxic venom of all ophidians in the world.
A single dose of this neurotoxic venom can kill up to 100 men or 250,000 mice. But don’t worry, no human death related to the bite of this reptile has been recorded so far !
You are probably wondering how this snake can develop such a toxic venom ? Where does it live and what does it look like ? To know everything about it, we have produced a complete guide that includes the history and characteristics of the Inland Taipan.
After reading this article, this fascinating snake will have no more secrets for you !
What is Inland Taipan ?
The Inland Snake belongs to the family Elapidae. This one is exclusively composed of venomous ophidians with rather short fixed fangs at the front of their jaws. Known as the most venomous snake in the world, the Taipan is by far the most dangerous of all.
What does the Inland Taipan look like ?
Brown in color, this reptile has a hue that can range from dark brown to a beige tending to olive green depending on the season. It is darker in winter than in summer, which allows it to accumulate more heat during the cold seasons.
Inland Taipan Size
The average length of adults is about 6.6ft (2 meters) with a maximum of about 8.5ft (2.5 meters). Although it is not one of the longest snakes, it is a large and very formidable ophidian.
When it feels threatened, the Taípan flattens its body into an S-shape with its head pointing straight at the threat. In most cases, if the threat is too close to him, it will prefer to take refuge in a safer place.
Scales of The Inland Taipan
The only truly accurate and effective way to identify a snake is to count the number of rows of scales on its back in the middle of its body and note the pattern of scales on its tail and head.
Some snakes have a rather specific body shape, which makes them easily distinguishable. However, the color is generally very variable. The scales on the belly are creamy to pale yellow with a darker back edge.
If you were ever confronted with this reptile (which is very unlikely), the first thing you would see is a flash of dark scales on its tail.
It is important to learn more about the behaviour and general appearance of the snakes you are likely to encounter in your area or in the places you visit, so that you can understand and appreciate all these fascinating reptiles.
Where does the Inland Taipan live ?
Many people think that it lives in India because of a mispronunciation of his name: Indian Taipan.
Taipan actually lives in the far west and southwest of Queensland, stretching from western New South Wales to northeastern South Australia, and southeastern Northern Territory. Few people live there, which is why it is rarely seen.
To escape the scorching heat of this country, it takes shelter in abandoned animal burrows, deep cracks in the ground, crevices in the rock or pits.
What does the Inland Taipan eat ?
The Taipan eats only mammals, rodents and sometimes birds. The “meal” preferred by this snake is the native long-haired rat. This animal usually hunts early in the morning, but remains active in the afternoon in cooler weather. In extremely hot weather, it becomes nocturnal.
Rat populations vary greatly from one period to another. The Taipan adapts accordingly and will feed more in years of abundance and lose weight when they become scarcer. They can also change their prey in times of famine by being able to prey on small and medium sized mammals.
This snake detects its prey through its movements and smells. It seems to have a better sight than many other snakes. It quickly pulls its forked tongue out of its mouth and detects the presence of potential prey in the air. This chemical information is transmitted to the Jacobson’s organ to reach the brain.
Its thin and muscular body allows it to move quickly in pursuit of its prey. Once the rat is caught, it lures it into its burrow or into a crack in the ground, then bites it several times quickly without letting go. The poison acts so quickly that the victim has no time to defend himself.
Now the snake is confronted with its meal, usually a large rat, which can often be much larger in diameter than its own body. Snakes cannot tear their food apart, so they have to swallow their victim whole. This is an incredible phenomenon ! Imagine how difficult it would be for you and me if we had to swallow a whole melon without cutting it into small pieces !
The two halves of a snake’s lower jaw are not directly connected to each other, but are held together by flexible muscles and ligaments. This allows them to stretch incredibly far apart while swallowing prey. The upper and lower jaws do not come apart as is commonly believed. Instead, food passes underneath this joint along the base of the neck, which can wrap itself completely around the prey.
To move its food, the snake catches it with its fangs on either side of the jaw, moves it from one side of the jaw and then the other along the prey, bringing it down into its throat. During this process, it uses a lot of saliva to lubricate its inner walls.
How Does the Snake Capture Its Prey ?
First of all, it pushes it until it is correctly aligned so that it can be swallowed head first. This way, it does not go against the fur, feathers or coat of its prey.
A snake’s ribs are not anchored to a sternum (as in other animals, including humans) so that they can stretch as food moves down inside its body.
Its skin is also very elastic, with relatively small scales. This allows the body to expand considerably as the food is swallowed.
Ingesting a large animal can take several hours. After eating large prey, the snake usually spends a lot of time basking in the sun to maintain a sufficiently high body temperature and to aid digestion. The venom, which has immobilized the prey, now helps to digest it. Powerful enzymes in the venom help the snake break down the dead animal’s flesh.
The ability to swallow very large amounts of food means that a large ophidian does not need to expend energy for frequent hunting activities. It may only need to eat a few meals a year.
Inalnd Taipan Reproduction
Because they live in such a remote and inhospitable part of the country, are shy and retiring by nature, most of the information about their breeding behavior comes from observing snakes in captivity.
Mating takes place in the spring, between August and December. The male Taipan may participate in a spectacular competition called a ritualistic fight. In this showdown, he wraps himself around the other’s body like a rope, fighting one against the other until the strongest of them forces his rival’s head to crash. The struggle can last for hours, until the stronger male finally wins the right to mate with the female.
If the female is receptive, she rubs her chin from top to bottom and then twists her lower body under hers. Males have two sexual organs, but only one at a time is used for mating. Mating can last several hours and a female can mate with several males during the same season.
About 2 months after mating, the female lays up to 20 eggs, with an average of 16. In general, an older female (which are larger in size) lays more eggs than a young. Taipan eggs have an elongated shape, surrounded by a permeable and solid shell. Because of the energy required for mating in the female and the risks associated with reproduction, they do not mate every year. After depositing her eggs, the female abandons the nest. Hatching occurs approximately 2 months later.
Young snakes grow very quickly when they are in good conditions. Whether it is a male or a female, they reach the same size within a few centimeters. In males, sexual maturity is reached at about 16 months and females at about 28 months.
Snakes generally live between 10 to 15 years. One Australian Zoo Taipan even lived to the age of 20 years !
Is The Inland Taipan The Most Venomous Snake ?
The venom of Taipan is by far the most powerful of all snakes in the world. It is about 50 times more toxic than the venom of the Indian cobra.
It is said that snakes are frightened when they see one of their fellow creatures at your side. Wear a beautiful Snake Ring and protect yourself against these very dangerous reptiles.
How does inland taipan venom work ?
Its venom is composed of various enzymes and other agents that destroy muscle tissue, paralyze nerve endings and cause serious bleeding.
It spreads through the lymphatic system, so muscle contraction must be minimized.
The relative danger of venomous snakes depends on many factors, such as the amount of venom injected, the length of the fangs, the sensitivity of the victim to the toxin and the likelihood of being bitten.
During the bite of the taipan, the snake injects only 1/3 of its venom. This species being very shy and living alone, and because they live in places with few people, they rarely come into contact with people.
The few people who have been bitten were snake handlers, such as those who catch them to extract their venom, or guards in nature parks.
There are no recorded human deaths from a Taipan bite !
On the other hand, less poisonous snakes such as cobras and vipers that live in the most densely populated continents of Asia and Africa kill tens of thousands of people each year.
Can you survive an inland taipan bite ?
Yes, it is possible to survive a Taipan snake bite but it must be treated quickly.
First aid for any bite from an ophidian follows the same basic procedure. The priorities are to stop the spread of the venom and to seek medical help: Call a doctor immediately.
The Spread of Venom
Reassure the victim and keep them calm. Avoid any movement.
If bitten, do not clean the affected area. Wrap it with a bandage or compress (or any other dressing) Start by covering the area at the ends and work your way up to the bite. This method prevents the venom from spreading quickly through the lymphatic system. Feel free to tighten the area tightly (like a sprain).
Immobilize the limb with a splint. The victim should then be taken as quickly as possible to the nearest hospital, preferably by ambulance.
All Australian hospitals and medical clinics have a specific antivenom and kits that allow staff to identify the type of snake by taking a sample from the bite site. It is not necessary to kill or capture the snake to identify it. You just expose yourself to an additional risk of being bitten.
Inland Taipan vs Black Mamba
These species are very similar, but each has a “special asset” that it could use to win the fight. It is important to know that snakes only fight when they are short of food and want to eat each other. No snake would try to eat an animal larger than itself.
The poison of taipan is extremely powerful. It is the most powerful snake venom there is. However, the venom of the black mamba, on the other hand, is extremely fast.
We have good reason to believe that the venom of the taipan is specially designed to kill rats as quickly as possible. But the way it works by interfering with rat blood will probably not work well against mamba.
The venom of the black mamba is designed to kill birds as well as mammals quickly, and this is an important point. If you have seen Jurassic Park, you know that birds are descended from dinosaurs.
Find out more about this snake in our article about the Black mamba
Can an inland taipan kill a Black Mamba ?
Although both species are very dangerous and each of their venoms is beautifully designed to subdue their natural prey, the biological reality is that the winner would probably be the biggest reptile of the day, regardless of the species.
This is an important lesson for us as far as snakes are concerned: despite their impressively toxic venoms, they generally do not like to fight with animals much larger than themselves.
There you go, you are now glued to the snake Inland Taipan !
As you can see, there is no risk of running into this very shy snake. Even if this snake has never caused human death and is very rarely encountered, it remains a very dangerous animal in Australia.
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