INLAND TAIPAN Oxyuranus microlepidota (McCoy, 1879)
This dangerous snake attains two metres in length, although specimens of nearly three metres are known. The colour of this snake is brownish, but changes seasonally. In winter specimens are dark brown with blackish heads whilst in summer specimens are a light brownish colour without a blackish head. This snake is found on black soil plains of the 'channel country' of the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and north west NSW. Old records from last century show this snake as occurring along the Murray-Darling river system but none have been found in this area since then.
Worrell (1972) reported anecdotal reports of these snakes from along the Darling River system in western NSW in years gone by, but none have been authentically reported from the area. There are old museum specimens labelled as coming from the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers in Victoria (at the NSW border). Because other large brown snakes (Pseudonaja and Cannia (species formerly known as Pseudechis)) are known to occur in the area, it is uncertain as to whether the reports made to Worrell were of Taipans or other species.
For the Inland Taipan, the scalation is smooth with 23 mid body rows, 220-250 ventrals, anal is usually single, and 55-70 divided subcaudals.
This snake shares with the Coastal Taipan Oxyuranus scutellatus the distinction of being Australia’s deadliest snake, in terms of venom deadliness per bite. Published records suggest that an average bite can kill 50,000 mice; (estimated at about 50 human lethal doses in laboratory terms).
The Inland Taipan is diurnal and lives on black soil plains where it occurs. When inactive it hides in the large cracks that form in this soil. This snake which is often common where it occurs is mostly caught when foraging over the plains in the morning and at dusk, when it is not too hot. Most specimens are seen in spring and autumn.
When this snake bites its prey it hangs on, unlike the Mainland Taipan Oxyuranus scutellatus which lets go of it. In the wild it is believed that the Inland Taipan feeds principally on the plague rat Rattus villosissimus. In captivity, adults of this snake are not at all aggressive. They are far more placid in nature than most other deadly snakes.
About twelve eggs are produced in summer. Hatchlings measure about 42-27 cm.
This species has been placed in the monotypic genus Parademansia by a number of herpetologists. There is a strong argument for such a generic arrangement.
THE ABOVE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN A PAPER TITLED
"AN OVERVIEW OF THE TAIPANS, GENUS (OXYURANUS) (SERPENTES:ELAPIDAE) INCLUDING THE DESCRIPTION OF A NEW SUBSPECIES".
BY RAYMOND HOSER
Originally Published in Crocodilian - Journal of the Victorian Association of Amateur Herpetologists 3(1), pages 43-50 - May 2002
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