NORTHERN DEATH ADDER Acanthophis praelongus Ramsay, 1877
Found in tropical and nearby parts of Australia, this dangerous snake is distinguished from the Death Adder Acanthophis antarcticus by its' rugose head scales, usually raised supra-ocular (scale above the eye), and different scalation. Like the Death Adder, the colour is highly variable, but always derives from a 'red' or 'grey' base. A 1998 reclassification resulted in the 'splitting' of the snake into a number of species, including A. lancasteri from the 'top-end' hill country of the Kimberley's and Arnhem Land, A. cummingi from the 'top-end' flood plains, A. lancasteri bottomi from Groote Eylandt, NT, with A. praelongus being restricted to Cape York, Queensland.
Average adult length is about 50 cm, with females generally the larger specimens. The largest of these northern forms appears to be A. cummingi.
The scalation for all these snakes is keeled or smooth, with 23 mid body rows, 110-130 ventrals, single anal, 40-55 subcaudals of which about half are divided.
Like other Death Adders, these species are restricted to relatively virgin habitats. In wetter areas this snake is usually found in hilly and scrubby localities. In arid areas where these species occurs, it is restricted to areas of spinifex bush Triodia sp., where they take refuge during the day.
The biology and habits of these snake are similar to that of the Death Adder, however these snakes are considerably more aggressive, and unlike the Death Adder, won't hesitate to bite when handled.
In North Queensland the populations of the Northern Death Adder have been decimated by the introduction of the Cane Toad Bufo marinus, which both feeds on small Northern Death Adders, and is poisonous to those which try to feed on the Toads.
Young are born around February to March and average 14-15 cm at birth.
Like other Death Adders, most females only reproduce every second year.
Death Adder Taxonomy.
The above was from the book Australian Reptiles and Frogs by Raymond Hoser and now available on a fantastic CD-Rom along with a vast amount of other information, papers and the like on reptiles, frogs and other wildlife.