Species of the month
Common Death Adder
Some facts on this snake:
Length: 70-100 cm.
Longevity: 9 years (in captivity).
Habitat: Forests, woodlands, grasslands and heaths.
Range: Eastern and coastal southern Australia.
Diet: Small mammals, lizards and birds.
Bite speed: 13 hundredths of a second.
Conservation status: Least Concern (IUCN 3.1).
Be careful not to step accidentally on a camouflaged Acanthophis antarcticus. This is one of the most venomous snakes known in the world: a bite can cause paralysis and may lead to death within 6 hours, due to respiratory failure. The Death Adder is characterized by a broad and somewhat flattened, triangular head, short stout body and a thin rat-like body ending in a curved spine. It has the habit of burying itself in sand or leaf litter, with just the head and tail exposed whilst it lies in wait for prey. On approach of a potential prey, it mimics the movements of a worm or caterpillar with the tip of the tail in a process called caudal luring. The end of the wiggling tail is easily mistaken for food by a hungry and unsuspecting victim which is instantly captivated. When the prey is within range, the snake strikes at great speed. Female death adders are viviparous; they produce large litters of live babies which number between 10 and 32 in late summer. The genus Acanthophis or "death adders" contains 7 australian species, and belongs to the family Elapidae or "Elapid snakes".
See also: Species of previous months