Believe it or not, you can find 15 types of venomous snakes in South Australia.
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 South Australia 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.*
15 Venomous snakes in South Australia:
#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 South Australia 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 South Australia. 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 South Australia.
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. Common Death Adder
- Acanthophis antarcticus
Also known as the Common Adder or Death Adder.
- Adults grow up to 65 cm (26 in) long.
- Their tails abruptly taper into a narrow point, and they have broad, triangular heads.
- This species’ coloring is gray to rusty brown, patterned with dark, jagged bands along their lengths.
Common Death Adders have the longest fangs of any venomous snake in South Australia.
Be wary of these deadly snakes, specifically near coastal areas. Their habitats include forests, woodlands, and grassy plains.
Common Death Adders don’t chase after their prey. Instead, they blend into the leaf litter, waiting to lunge on unsuspecting lizards, birds, and small mammals. Additionally, these clever reptiles shake their worm-like tails to lure in their victims.
Common Death Adders will stay perfectly still upon sensing danger and only bite if provoked directly. However, that doesn’t mean you should linger if you spot one! Their venom is a highly potent neurotoxin. It assaults the nervous system, causing dizziness and paralysis. Left untreated, 50-60% of bites are fatal. Seek medical attention immediately if you’re bitten.
#5. Red-bellied Black Snake
- Pseudechis porphyriacus
Also known as the Australian Black Snake and the Common Black Snake.
- Adults grow to 125 cm (49 in) long on average.
- They have broad heads. Their snouts are pale and rounded.
- Made obvious by their name, these snakes are typically black with reddish undersides. Their flanks are bright red or orange.
These venomous snakes wander into urban areas in South Australia frequently.
Red-bellied Black Snakes typically stay close to bodies of water. There, they feast on frogs, fish, and eels. These clever snakes have figured out that they can lure out their prey by disturbing the sediment at the bottom of a stream or lake.
This species is highly venomous, but there are no recorded human deaths from its bite. They’re usually not aggressive. However, a cornered snake will not hesitate to strike repeatedly, and they’re extremely quick. Its venom can cause pain around the wound, excessive bleeding, and abdominal discomfort. Curiously, some bite victims also lose their sense of smell.
#6. Shield-snouted Brown Snake
- Pseudonaja aspidorhyncha
Also known as the Strap-snouted Brown Snake, Longman’s Brown Snake, Gow’s Brown Snake, and McCoy’s Brown Snake.
- Adults are 130-150 cm (51-59 in) long.
- They have narrow heads and chisel-shaped snouts.
- Their bodies are light to medium brown, sometimes grayish. Their bellies are yellow-white.
Shield-snouted Brown Snakes prefer dry woodlands and stony deserts in South Australia.
Keep your eyes open when you’re out for a walk! Sometimes, these venomous snakes wander into suburban communities. Although primarily active in the daytime, they can adapt to nocturnal life in hotter seasons.
Their diets include small mammals, birds, and lizards. Shield-snouted Brown Snakes have sharp vision and can catch even the slightest of movements. Once they secure a bite, these fast-moving snakes quickly coil around their prey while their venom takes effect.
The bite of a Shield-snouted Brown Snake can be life-threatening. Its venom attacks a person’s nervous system, leading to cardiac arrest in serious cases. Fortunately, this species prefers to flee in the presence of humans. But remember, a cornered snake will not hesitate to strike, so keep your distance!
#7. Tiger Snake
- Notechis scutatus
Also known as the Mainland Tiger Snake.
- Adults can reach 120 cm (47 in) long. As their name suggests, their bodies are covered by bands resembling tigerskin.
- Morph #1 (Common): Olive, green, or brown with cream-colored crossbands
- Morph #2 (Western): Dark blue or black with yellow bands
- Morph #3 (Chappell Island): Black, brown, or olive with lighter bands
- Morph #4 (King Island and Tasmanian): Deep black with light crossbands or a uniform brown with no banding
- Morph #5 (Southern Peninsulas): Black with white chin and lips
The Tiger Snake is the 4th most venomous snake in South Australia!
Keep a watchful eye out for these snakes while trekking in coastal regions. These ground-dwellers love to bask in the sun or rest under fallen trees. But, incredibly, they’re just as adept at swimming and climbing as they are on the ground.
If cornered, this reptile will lift and flatten its forebody before swiftly striking. It can be aggressive toward humans, so keep your distance.
The bite of a Tiger Snake warrants an immediate trip to the hospital. You may initially experience numbness, profuse sweating, or difficulty breathing if you’re bitten. Unfortunately, victims have only about a 50% survival rate without treatment.
#8. 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 South Australia.
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.
#9. 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 South Australia.
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!
- Echiopsis curta
Also known as the Desert Snake.
- Adults are about 40 cm (16 in) long.
- They have thick bodies, very short tails, and broad heads. Look for white flecks on their lips.
- Their coloring is reddish brown to gray, growing lighter at the sides. Their undersides are white or cream.
Be careful where you tread! The Bardick Snake has a knack for camouflaging among dead leaves, so you might accidentally step on one. These reptiles reside in wooded and grassy areas. It’s common to find them flattened out in the grass, basking in the morning sun.
When finding a meal, patience pays off for these sneaky snakes. Instead of tracking down their prey, they stay motionless, waiting for unsuspecting frogs and lizards to come within striking distance. Finally, after a night of hunting, Bardicks return to their dens under fallen trees or flat rocks.
Normally mild-tempered, this venomous species can become surprisingly fierce when provoked. Not much is known about the danger of a Bardick’s bite. However, their venom is similar to that of the deadly Common Death Adder. Stay away!
#11. Lowlands Copperhead
- Austrelaps superbus
Also known as the Copperhead Snake and Common Copperhead.
- Adults are 100-150 cm (39-59 in) long.
- Their heads are small and narrow, and they have distinct, raised scales.
- They are typically reddish-brown to copper. Some individuals are shades of gray.
You’ll find the highly venomous Lowlands Copperhead near freshwater scrublands, swamps, and marshes in South Australia. Sometimes, they wander into urban settlements in search of food, so stay alert!
Lowlands Copperheads have a taste for frogs and lizards, but they sometimes cannibalize their own kind. When they’re not hunting, they take refuge in abandoned animal burrows. Unlike other snakes, they can tolerate colder temperatures and are active even during winter.
Though otherwise shy, Lowlands Copperheads will hiss and thrash when approached. Their venomous bites can cause a loss of consciousness, convulsions, and even death. Luckily, the same antivenom used for Tiger Snake bites works just as well against this species. So if you’re bitten, get medical help right away!
#12. White-lipped Snake
- Drysdalia coronoides
- Adults grow up to 40 cm (16 in) long. They have slender bodies with tapered tails.
- Their body coloring is light brown to dark olive. Some have orange bellies.
- As their name suggests, they have a prominent white line above their lips. This line runs parallel to a black one, reaching behind their jaws at both sides of the head.
You can find these venomous snakes in South Australia near grassy and forested regions.
Impressively, White-lipped Snakes can withstand the bitter cold! You might cross paths with one while hiking on Mount Kosciuszko, the continent’s tallest mountain. Because of their small bodies, these snakes are more agile and can generate heat through movement.
Typically reclusive, White-lipped Snakes will quickly flee if you approach them. Most of the time, their venom is too mild to harm healthy adults. However, some people can be more sensitive to its venom, so getting medical help is still important if you’re bitten.
#13. Inland Taipan
- Oxyuranus microlepidotus
Also known as the Western Taipan, Small-scaled Snake, and Fierce Snake.
- Adults are an average of 2 m (6 ft) long.
- They have triangular heads, large eyes, and rounded pupils.
- Their coloring is dark brown in winter, changing to olive or yellow in summer, and they have a yellowish belly with orange spots.
The Inland Taipan is one of the deadliest snakes in South Australia!
They can be found in floodplains and wetlands with sparse vegetation. They tend to retreat into rock crevices, sinkholes, or abandoned burrows. So keep a close eye out to avoid these dangerous snakes.
This venomous snake is extremely fast. After sensing movement or an odor, the Inland Taipan will corner its target and bite several times until the prey is incapacitated. They are carnivores and feed on rats, mice, and other small mammals. But they won’t hesitate to bite larger animals if threatened!
Despite its dangerous venom, the Inland Taipan is shy and will retreat if possible. If threatened, however, it flattens its body into low S-shaped curves and points its head directly at you.
Since they have one of the most toxic venoms in the world, their bite is fatal. To survive, antivenom needs to be injected within 30-45 minutes. Even so, some bite victims endure months of hospitalization and potential brain, heart, and kidney damage. Thankfully, human interactions are rare, most likely because the snakes live in extremely remote areas.
- Pseudonaja affinis
Also known as the Spotted Brown Snake.
- Adults grow up to 150 cm (59 in) long.
- Their heads are small and indistinct from their necks.
- This species’ coloring is a glossy brown, green, or gray. They occasionally have black scales scattered across their bodies.
Look for the Dugite Snake in South Australia in coastal plains, dunes, and shrublands.
These venomous snakes have become increasingly common in urban settlements where house mice are abundant. Be especially alert during their mating season in October and November.
Dugite Snakes have an ingenious way of catching a meal. First, they infiltrate animal burrows and crevices where lizards rest, blocking off the entrance so their prey can’t escape. Then, once they have it cornered, they bite the prey and swallow it whole. These reptiles mostly forage in the daytime but switch to hunting at night when the weather gets too hot.
Naturally shy, this species will zip to safety if disturbed. But make no mistake! A cornered snake will fight back. Adopting an S-shaped pose, it will loudly hiss before aiming high for a strike. The Dugite is highly venomous, and bites are often deadly in South Australia. Bite victims should seek medical help at once.
#15. Pygmy Copperhead
- Austrelaps labialis
- Adults are 80-120 cm (31-47 in) long.
- They have narrow heads, large pale-colored eyes, and round pupils.
- Their coloring is a uniform black or gray-brown, with semi-glossy scales.
The Pygmy Copperhead is found only in relatively cold areas. They thrive in wetlands such as coastal dunes, marshes, and swamp grass but can also be found in grassland or open forests.
The Pygmy Copperhead generally prefers lizards and their eggs, frogs and tadpoles, insects, and skinks. Only occasionally do they consume birds or small mammals. However, they are known to eat often and resort to cannibalism if food is scarce.
Unfortunately, this is one of few venomous snakes in South Australia whose population is threatened, due mostly to being hunted by domestic and feral cats!
Pygmy Copperheads generally avoid humans and withdraw if at all possible. If they find themselves cornered, they will hiss and flatten their bodies. That’s your cue to leave because their bite is fatal without prompt intervention.
Do you want to learn more about animals in South Australia?
Check out these other guides!
Which of these venomous snakes in South Australia have you seen?
Leave a COMMENT below!