COMMON DEATH ADDER

Acanthophis antarcitus

The venomous Common Death Adder has a short, squat body, rapidly tapering tail & a broad triangular head. Most species exhibit some form of banded pattern in shades of brown or grey. Adults are rarely longer than a metre in length with females marginally larger . They possess the longest fangs of any Australian snake. The name Death Adder was probably originally ‘Deaf’ Adder referring to the inability of this and all other snakes to hear airborne sounds.

DISTRIBUTION & HABITAT

They are found in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia & Western Australia preferring forests & woodlands, grasslands & heath.

DIET

They feed  on small mammals, frogs, lizards & small birds. Unlike most Australian venomous snakes that actively search for prey, this snake sits in one place (often for days) & twitches a worm-like colourful lure on the end of its tail to attract prey. When an animal approaches to investigate the movement it quickly strikes, injecting its venom then waits for the victim to die before eating it. They are mainly nocturnal & terrestrial but they are good swimmers & won’t hesitate to go into the water to chase their prey.

LIFE EXPECTANCY & BREEDING

After mating, the gestation period is approximately 3 to 4 months. Females produce large litters, often over 20, of live babies in late summer. After birthing the mother instantly leaves the young snakes to fend for themselves. Young Common Death Adders will not become sexually mature for 3 to 4 years. They generally live for 10 to 15 years in the wild.

CONSERVATION

VULNERABLE: EPBC Act of Threatened Species

DOWNLOAD FACT SHEET