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Wilderness and Outdoor Survival Guide

Poisonous Snakes and Lizards: Poisonous Snakes of Australasia

Australian copperhead
Denisonia superba

Description: Coloration is reddish brown to dark brown. A few from Queensland are black.

Characteristics: Rather sluggish disposition but will bite if stepped on. When angry, rears its head a few inches from the ground with its neck slightly arched. Its venom is neurotoxic.

Habitat: Swamps.

Length: Average 1.2 meters, maximum 1.8 meters.

Distribution: Tasmania, South Australia, Queensland, and Kangaroo Island.



Death adder
Acanthophis antarcticus

Description: Reddish, yellowish, or brown color with distinct dark brown crossbands The end of its tail is black, ending in a hard spine.

Characteristics: When aroused, this highly dangerous snake will flatten its entire body, ready to strike over a short distance. It is nocturnal, hiding by day and coming out to feed at night. Although it has the appearance of a viper, it is related to the cobra family. Its venom is a powerful neurotoxin; its causes mortality in about 50 percent of the victims, even with treatment.

Habitat: Usually found in arid regions, fields, and wooded lands.

Length: Average 45 centimeters, maximum 90 centimeters.

Distribution: Australia, New Guinea, and Moluccas.



Taipan
Oxyuranus scutellatus

Description: Generally uniformly olive or dark brown, the head is somewhat darker brown.

Characteristics: Considered one of the most deadly snakes. It has an aggressive disposition. When aroused, it can display a fearsome appearance by flattening its head, raising it off the ground, waving it back and forth, and suddenly striking with such speed that the victim may receive several bites before it retreats. Its venom is a powerful neurotoxin, causing respiratory paralysis. Its victim has little chance for recovery without prompt medical aid.

Habitat: At home in a variety of habitats, it is found from the savanna forests to the inland plains.

Length: Average 1.8 meters, maximum 3.7 meters.

Distribution: Northern Australia and southern New Guinea.



Tiger snake
Notechis scutatus

Description: Olive to dark brown above with yellowish or olive belly and crossbands. The subspecies in Tasmania and Victoria is uniformly black.

Characteristics: It is the most dangerous snake in Australia. It is very common and bites many humans. It has a very potent neurotoxic venom that attacks the nervous system. When aroused, it is aggressive and attacks any intruder. It flattens its neck making a narrow band.

Habitat: Found in many habitats from arid regions to human settlements along waterways to grasslands.

Length: Average 1.2 meters, maximum 1.8 meters.

Distribution: Australia, Tasmania, Bass Strait islands, and New Guinea.

U.S. Army Survival Manual

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