Believe it or not, you can find 10 types of venomous snakes in the Northern Territory.
But please don’t live in fear, thinking that you are going to be bitten. In general, snakes try to avoid any contact or interaction with people. As long as you leave them alone, you shouldn’t have any trouble!
You’ll see that the Northern Territory is home to the most venomous snakes in the world. Each of the species listed below has the potential to cause lasting harm or death to humans. So keep a respectful distance if you encounter one in the wild!
- DO NOT RELY ON THIS ARTICLE to correctly identify a snake that has recently bitten you. If you have recently been bitten, GO DIRECTLY to the nearest hospital to get help and to determine if the snake is venomous.*
10 Venomous snakes in the Northern Territory:
#1. Curl Snake
- Suta suta
Also known as the Myall Snake.
- Adults are 40-60 cm (16-24 in) long.
- They have flat heads and broad snouts, and a stripe passes through their snouts, connecting both eyes.
- They are varying shades of brown, but their heads are marked with a dark-colored patch.
Look for these venomous snakes in the Northern Territory in forests and grasslands.
Watch where you’re walking! You never know when a Curl Snake is hiding among the leaf litter. These snakes forage for food at night, then retreat to the safety of rocky crevices when the day breaks.
These reptiles have an appetite for skinks, geckos, and legless lizards. As their name implies, Curl Snakes coil their bodies into a spring to protect their heads when they feel threatened.
A bite from the Curl Snake isn’t likely to cause serious damage. However, they are venomous, and little is known about their effects, so seek medical treatment if you get bitten. Thankfully, these snakes are usually calm and tend to avoid humans.
#2. Eastern Brown Snake
- Pseudonaja textilis
Also known as the Common Brown Snake.
- Adults are 150-200 cm (59-79 in) long.
- They have rounded snouts and long, tapered tails.
- Coloration includes shades of brown or olive with pale undersides. Some specimens are dark gray.
This unassuming species is the world’s second-deadliest snake! In addition to being incredibly dangerous, Eastern Brown Snakes are very common in the Northern Territory. This combination means that this species regularly kills more people than any other.
Toxins in the Eastern Brown Snake’s venom will attack your circulatory system, causing internal bleeding and cardiac arrest. And don’t be complacent with juveniles because their venom packs an extra punch. It has less yield, but it’s more potent! Seek medical attention immediately if you’re bitten.
If you spend time in this species’ territory, keep your eyes on the ground and look for their raised heads. Eastern Brown Snakes often poke their heads out of the grass to survey their surroundings. This is how they find skinks, mice, and geckos to feed on.
Despite their incredible speed, they prefer not to chase after prey. Instead, these clever snakes wait outside their victims’ burrows and corner them. Then, after a long day of hunting, they retreat into crevices.
#3. Mulga Snake
- Pseudechis australis
Also known as the King Brown Snake.
- Adults grow up to 200-250 cm (79-98 in) long.
- Females are unusually smaller than males.
- They have broad heads, rounded snouts, and bulbous cheeks.
- Their scales are two-toned: brown or copper on top with a contrasting pale underside.
The Mulga snake is the LARGEST venomous snake in the Northern Territory.
You can find this snake in many habitats, from damp tropical forests to dry sandy deserts. Hunting at dusk, it boldly preys on other snakes, including venomous ones!
Don’t go peeking in strange holes! Mulga Snakes take refuge in empty animal burrows and solid rock cavities. They can be relentless when they bite, latching onto unfortunate prey (or people). Their venom destroys blood cells. Bite victims can experience intense pain, severe bleeding, and even death if left untreated.
In terms of temperament, Mulga Snakes seem to differ by region. For example, specimens in the south are timid and will likely only bite as a last resort. On the other hand, Northern individuals can be aggressive and may instantly attack when approached.
#4. Yellow-bellied Sea Snake
- Hydrophis platurus
Also known as the Pelagic Sea Snake.
- Adults grow to 70 cm (28 in) in length.
- They have narrow heads, long snouts, and flattened flipper-like tails.
- Their coloring is bright yellow on the belly and deep brown or black above.
Yellow-bellied Sea Snakes are spotted swimming in tropical waters across the Indian Ocean. Stay vigilant while on beach walks, as it’s common to see this venomous snake in the Northern Territory! They make breeding grounds out of free-drifting masses of sea kelp.
Yellow-bellied Sea Snakes are incredibly agile while underwater. Capable of swimming backward or changing direction in a split second, they can catch any passing prey. They also stay motionless for hours to trick fish into coming close. In open waters, they sometimes gather and hunt by the thousands.
The Yellow-bellied Sea Snake’s bite is highly venomous. Victims suffer muscle pain and drowsiness, or even complete paralysis and death in the worst cases. Most bites happen on beaches, where the snakes sometimes wash ashore.
#5. Western Brown Snake
- Pseudonaja mengdeni
Also known as the Collared Brown Snake and Mengden’s Brown snake.
- Adults grow to 120 cm (47 in) long.
- They are slim-bodied snakes with short heads and round snouts.
- Morph #1: Dull yellow to orange, with dark-colored heads.
- Morph #2: Brown or yellowish. Their heads are pale in contrast.
These venomous snakes live in dry woodlands and stony plains in the Northern Territory.
Western Brown Snakes hunt small lizards, birds, and mammals in broad daylight. Since these reptiles are adept at climbing trees, unattended bird eggs aren’t safe either!
These hawk-eyed hunters can seize their prey in a burst of speed. They hold on with sharp teeth, then wrap around the unlucky victim as the venom does its work. During periods of hot weather, Western Brown Snakes shift to hunting in the nighttime.
A threatened Western Brown Snake will raise its forebody into an S-shaped stance, mouth open. When it does, it’s best to back away. Though the bite is painless and the fang marks undetectable, the venom is highly potent! Symptoms include internal bleeding, kidney failure, and even death if left untreated.
#6. Central Ranges Taipan
- Oxyuranus temporalis
- Adults are 1-2.5 m (3-8 ft) long.
- Their rectangular heads taper to a rounded snout, and they have large eyes with black irises.
- They have a light brown body with olive-gray patterns, and their head coloration is much paler than the body.
This is one of the most recently discovered venomous snakes in the Northern Territory.
The Central Ranges Taipan was just discovered in 2007. Scientists named the first one “Scully” after the television X-Files character. Scully was a young snake about three feet long, but adults can grow to eight feet.
Like other taipans, they are fast snakes that feed mostly on rodents. Central Ranges Taipans live in the red sandy soils and dunes of remote desert locations. Also called the Western Desert Taipan, they are sometimes confused with the Western Brown Snake.
The Central Taipan’s first response to a threat is to adopt a warning posture. Although their bite is slightly less toxic than the Inland Taipan, it is still one of the world’s most potent and fast-spreading venoms. Its venom is lethal enough to kill a human within a couple of hours. If you’re bitten, seek medical help immediately!
#7. Coastal Taipan
- Oxyuranus scutellatus
- Adults are 1.5-2.0 m (5-7 ft) long.
- They are long and slender with a whip-like tail and a triangular head that’s distinct from the body.
- They are uniformly colored but vary by specimen: light, reddish, and dark brown are all common. Their undersides are yellowish and may have yellow or orange spots.
The Coastal Taipan resides in the temperate and coastal regions near grassy areas and forests. They often shelter in abandoned burrows, vegetation, hollow logs, and litter. Keep a sharp eye on the ground to avoid stepping on this venomous snake in the Northern Territory!
This species uses its keen eyesight as it slithers along and scans the ground for rats and mice. They will also consume bandicoots, birds, and an occasional unlucky lizard. On detecting a target, this snake bites quickly. Then, it releases its prey, tracking the meal until the venom incapacitates it.
Although the Coastal Taipan prefers to avoid confrontation with humans, it will attack with multiple quick bites if provoked. Its venom is one of the most toxic in the world, and it can kill an adult human in just 30 minutes by paralyzing the heart, lungs, and diaphragm. Give this snake a wide berth.
#8. Northern Brown Snake
- Pseudonaja nuchalis
- Adults grow up to 2 m (6 ft) long.
- Their coloring varies depending on location but is usually orange or brown. The belly is cream to orange with pink blotches. Some specimens have jet-black heads.
The Northern Brown Snake is often called “gwardar,” an Aboriginal word meaning “go the long way around.” And it’s for good reason! This venomous snake can be very aggressive when it’s disturbed.
Northern Brown Snakes live in eucalyptus forests, woodlands, grasslands, and rocky areas. Although they are ground dwellers and hide under rocks or rubbish piles, they occasionally climb trees. Their meal of choice is small mammals such as mice and lizards, but when times get tough, they will resort to cannibalism. This species also uses a combination of venom and constriction to kill its prey.
The Northern Brown Snake’s venom is incredibly deadly. But unfortunately for you, because they have such small fangs, the bite may be painless and difficult to see. If you have a headache, nausea/vomiting, and abdominal pain, it would be wise to consult a medical professional.
#9. Rough-scaled Death Adder
- Acanthophis rugosus
Also known as the Javan Death Adder.
- The average adult length is 1 m (3 ft).
- They have triangular heads, elliptical pupils, and long fangs.
- Their short, stout bodies and rat-like tails are gray or brown with red or yellow crossbands.
The Rough-scaled Death Adder is one of the sneakiest snakes in the Northern Territory. This species is known to wait for days in woodlands, grass, the edges of garden plots, or walking trails for an unsuspecting victim. They let victims get extremely close before striking, so don’t be fooled, and watch your step!
This highly venomous species eats lizards, frogs, and an occasional small rodent or bird. They’re most often seen crossing the road after a rain shower, and as with other adders, they use their caudal lure to attract prey. Then they bite their prey, wait for it to die, and swallow it!
Because of their seemingly infinite patience, the Rough-scaled Death Adder is a significant snakebite risk. Most snakes will avoid confrontation with a human, but this one is truly a snake in the grass. Once touched, they will strike immediately with their dangerous and potentially fatal venom.
#10. Desert Death Adder
- Acanthophis Pyrrhus
- The average length of adults is about 70 cm (2 ft).
- Their coloring is reddish-yellow with yellow bands, and the caudal lure is black.
- They have triangular heads, and their fangs are longer than most Australian snakes.
Desert Death Adders are a threatened species of venomous snake in the Northern Territory.
Their population is declining due to habitat degradation and consumption of the poisonous Cane Toad.
Desert Death Adders live in remote areas, hidden among porcupine grass, sandy ridges, and rocky outcrops. True to their species, they wait for skinks, bearded dragons, frogs, and toads. Then, they lure their prey in by wiggling their tails.
This species has large fangs that produce a LARGE quantity of venom, making them one of the most venomous snakes in the Northern Territory! The good news is that they typically won’t bite unless their target is very close to them. Although the chances are rare, you must seek immediate medical attention if bitten.
Do you want to learn more about animals in the Northern Territory?
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Which of these venomous snakes in Northern Territory have you seen?
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