Death Adders are defined by their very short, squat bodies. A broad triangular head and tail that tappers. It uses this tail as a lure for its prey, wriggling it like a lizard to attract small mammals and birds its primary diet. Their colour range varies widely from brown to grey but most species display a banded pattern. Allowing them to blend into their environment.
It is the tail that tappers often a diffident colour to the rest of the body, that gives this snake its unique behavioural properties. Laying and waiting, often for days that means these snakes only grow to a metre long. They do not have to be long or agile but short and muscular for a quick strike when required. They probably have the fastest strike of any Australian snake and do have the largest fangs. Their bite is serious.
They are reluctant to bite humans unless a threat is very close to them. However unlike other snakes which will move away from human contact, they remain still tending to rely on camouflage.
The female has large litters up to thirty have been recorded however ten to twenty off spring is the norm.
Did you know?
The Death adder is not a true adder. They belong to the elapids the same family as other Australian venomous snakes. It is their unusual shape similar to Viper or Adders that has led to this name. Death deriving from a snakes inability to hear.
Snake bite on the island is extremely rare, definitely as with any where in Australia preventable by wearing shoes not thongs and Jeans.
This Death Adder was relocated to safer habitat as it was in danger straying into a local yard. Snakes are an important part of any ecology and help maintain healthy populations of other species which could become pests. Many Australian snake populations are in serious decline with the introduction of the Cane Toad which is poisonous to any thing that eats it.
A big credit to Island lady Jan Phillips for allowing me to use her photographs. Also for the safe relocation of this beautiful part of the Magnetic Island ecology. xxx.