Australian Wildlife

  Fierce Snake (Oxyuranus microlepidotus)

Fierce Snake | Oxyuranus microlepidotus photo
Fierce Snake (also known as Inland Taipan) photographed at Australia Zoo.

Image by ozwildlife - Some rights reserved.

Fierce Snake | Oxyuranus microlepidotus photo
Fierce Snake

Image by Matthew Klein - Some rights reserved.


The Fierce Snake is our most venomous snake. The upper surface can vary from dark brown to a light brown. Seasonal colour changes take place, with a darker winter and lighter summer coloration. The darker markings absorb heat better in winter and the lighter markings absorb less heat in summer. The head may take on an almost glossy black appearance.

Other Names
Inland Taipan

can grow to 2.5 metres, although 1.8 metres is more usual

Black soil plains in central Australia. The snakes hide in cracks and fissures in the dry soil to escape predators and keep out of the heat.

Almost solely composed of small mammals, particularly native rats, which can reach plague proportions in this region. The prey is killed with series of rapid strikes injecting highly toxic venom. Populations are dependent on the availability of the rats. When rat population is high, numbers of fierce snakes also rises soon after. when rat population is low many snakes perish from lack of food.

The female fierce snake lays between 12 and 20 eggs per clutch, laid in an abandoned animals burrow or deep soil crevice.

This taipan is found in central Australia around where Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory borders meet.

distribution map showing range of Oxyuranus microlepidotus in Australia

Map is from Atlas of Living Australia website at https://biocache.ala.org.au licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia License

This is the most venomous snake in the world. According to Steve Irwin's notes at Australia Zoo, "the Fierce Snake produces drop for drop the most toxic venom in the world! ... one bite possesses enough punch to drop 100 full grown men". Fortunately the Fierce Snake is a shy species and lives in remote area, so rarely encounters people.

Order:Squamata (Serpentes)
Common Name:Fierce Snake

Relatives in same Genus
  Coastal Taipan (O. scutellatus)