Believe it or not, you can find 11 types of venomous snakes in Western 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 Western 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.*
11 Venomous snakes in Western Australia:
#1. 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 Western 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.
#2. 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 Western Australia! 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.
#3. 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 Western 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.
#4. 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 Western 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.
#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 Western 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.
#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 Western 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!
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 Western Australia!
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.
- 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!
- 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 Western 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 Western Australia. Bite victims should seek medical help at once.
#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 Western Australia.
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 Western Australia! 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.
#11. Pilbara Death Adder
- Acanthophis wellsi
Also known as the Wells’ Death Adder.
- Adults are 0.3-0.6 m (1-2 ft) long.
- Their coloring is reddish-orange to brown with narrow gray crossbands and a white or orange tail tip. Their bellies are lighter than the top, with darker flecks.
The Pilbara Death Adder can be found in grasslands and rocky areas of cliffs. They can conceal themselves nicely among the clumps of grass that grow throughout the region.
Like other death adders, this species uses its caudal lure, or brightly colored tail tip, to attract and ambush prey. They are known to eat frogs, lizards, and small mammals. With one of the fastest strikes in the world (less than 0.15 seconds), the Pilbara Death Adder’s prey doesn’t stand a chance.
Luckily, the Pilbara Death Adder will bite humans only in self-defense. Their venom contains a neurotoxin that paralyzes its victims, and although not much is known about its toxicity, the venom of all Death Adders is potentially fatal to humans. Seek medical help immediately if you’re bitten.
Do you want to learn more about animals in Western Australia?
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