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 as little as six hours. 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.