The common death adder is a highly venomous snake found on the Sunshine Coast and throughout most of Australia. It has a distinctive appearance, with a triangular-shaped head and a robust body that tapers off abruptly to a very thin tail.
This snake’s venom is highly lethal to humans, and before an antivenom was developed in 1958 in Australia, death by envenomation was around 50%.
Death adders are very stocky with a triangular-shaped head, growing to an average of 40-100cm in length. Colouration depends on the areas on where they are found, though they tend to have variations of red, brown, or black, with a grey, cream, or pink-coloured belly.
Midbody scale rows 21–23; ventrals 110–135; anal single; subcaudals, mostly single, some divided at tail-tip 35–60.
The common death adder is a Cathemeral snake, meaning that it can be active both day or night. It belongs to a family of death adders that are native to Australia.
The common death adder can be found all over eastern and coastal Australia, including Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Their habitats of choice include forested areas, woodlands, grasslands, and shrublands. They are masters of camouflage, thanks to their mottled colouring.
These snakes can also be found in residential areas, including gardens, so Sunshine Coast residents should always keep an eye out for these secretive snakes.
The common death adder is venomous, and its venom contains highly toxic neurotoxins that can cause paralysis and even death. Among all venomous snakes found in Australia, the common death adder can deliver the fastest strike.
Receiving a bite from this extremely venomous snake can result in death in a very short amount of time. Respiratory issues usually occur shortly after being bitten, and victims may need breathing assistance.
The common death adder preys upon small mammals and birds, primarily. Unlike other snakes, which actively hunt for their prey, Death Adders are ambush predators. this lethal hunter relies heavily on ground coverage to camouflage it as it lies in wait for its prey.
Placing the tail close to the head and using it as a lure to imitate a grub or worm will entice many animals closer e.g frogs, lizards, birds, and mammals, which is the most common diet for the Death Adder.
The hunting behaviour of this snake makes it one of the hardest snakes to spot. They will usually burrow into leaves and loose soil, camouflaging them and making them a hazard when hiking or trail walking. Although they, like other snakes, can feel vibrations in the ground, they are not likely to flee at the approach of humans and will strike out when they feel threatened.
If you encounter a common death adder, be sure to keep well away from it. Keep children and pets away from it as well, and do not provoke it. Maintain a watch on the snake’s location and call the Snake Rescue Sunny Coast team to safely capture and relocate the snake elsewhere.
When we’re looking for a snake, the first places we look are along the walls and under debris. Snakes try to avoid predators by moving along the walls and beneath cover. Unless they are going from concealment to cover or seeking warmth from the sun, it’s unusual to observe a snake moving out in the open.
We study their body language once we discover the snake, before we attempt to catch it. This tells us what the snake is thinking and indicates what it might do. We can tell when they are going to run, stand up and fight, or simply be apathetic toward our presence based on their body language. It’s critical for us to understand how to capture and handle snakes using this information.
After they’ve been captured, they’re put in a bag and kept quiet in a dark, tight space. This keeps us safe while handling the snake, as well as allows the snake to calm down.
Following the capture of the snake, they are relocated to suitable bushland and set free. Each snake is assigned its own habitat and food. As a result, we release them into areas that are ideal for each species. Keelbacks and Red-bellied black snakes enjoy frogs and lizards, so we put them in areas near water sources such as rivers or dams.
During an operation, we always want to double-check the snakes for health and remove any external parasites like ticks before they are released. If the snake is not healthy enough to be released, it may be due to injury or sickness; they are taken to Australia Zoo’s wildlife hospital for further evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation.
As snake catchers, all the snakes we catch are logged with the department of wildlife and science. This is so they can keep track of where each snake has been caught and released, to monitor and maintain the biodiversity in the area.
We have also been keeping a personal log of all the snakes we have caught on the Sunshine Coast that you can view on our website. This way you can see the species and location of each snake we have caught around the sunshine coast and in your areas.
The common death adder (Acanthophis antarcticus) is a highly venomous snake native to Australia. They have a distinctive, reddish-brown to grayish-black coloration with crossbands or stripes, and a short, thick body with a triangular-shaped head. Their tails are sharply tapered, with a distinctive change of thickness as the tail starts.
If you have encountered what you think may be a death adder, look for the following characteristics:
Given that common death adders are so venomous, it is best to keep a wide distance between yourself and any snake you suspect to be an adder.
Common death adders are generally solitary snakes that spend much of their time hiding under leaf litter, rocks, or logs. They are ambush predators, lying in wait for prey to pass by before striking with lightning-fast speed. Despite their reputation as aggressive snakes, common death adders are usually quite shy and will try to avoid humans if possible.
However, being an ambush predator means they rely on camouflage – which is why many people don’t see them out in the bush, where most bites occur. Generally speaking, if you don’t give this snake any trouble, it won’t bother you! When out hiking or walking in foliage-dense areas, keep an eye on your footing to make sure you don’t accidentally disturb one of these incredible snakes.
Yes, the common death adder is highly venomous, and their venom can be extremely dangerous to humans. A bite from this snake can cause paralysis, breathing issues, and even death. Basic snake bite first aid is useful in the event of any kind of snake bite, but always seek immediate medical attention.
If you encounter a common death adder, it is important to stay calm and give the snake plenty of space. Do not attempt to handle or approach the snake, as a single bite from an adder attempting to protect itself can be fatal. If you are in a residential area, contact our licensed snake catchers who can safely remove the snake. If you encounter one while out hiking or walking, slowly back away and leave the area. Always be aware of your surroundings and watch where you step.
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