Common Death Adder


Acanthophis antarcticus or the Death Adder

The death adder is a nocturnal venomous snake. Unlike most snakes, the death adder hunts only by ambush. They lie hidden under leaves, waiting for prey to move within striking range. To entice prospective meals their way death adders possess a lure at the end of their tails. The snake moves this lure to make it look like a small worm. The potential predator then becomes the prey.The venom of the death adder is highly neurotoxic, causing muscle paralysis.

Even though a bite victim may be experiencing severe paralysis, antivenom can reverse this and the victim will usually experience a full recovery.

The death adder is often called the 'deaf adder', but as with all snakes there is an ear on each side of its head. These ears are covered by skin, and aren't visible. It is most likely that snakes can hear, but to a much lesser degree than humans. They are very sensitive to vibrations through their body. Death adders come in a wide variety of colours, ranging from greys and browns to reds and vivid oranges. The females produce live young, with clutch sizes often numbering over 12.

Did you know...

  • Death adders are one of the fastest-striking snakes in Australia.
  • Female death adders give birth to live young which, even when just minutes old, can still deliver a fatal bite.
  • Death adders wiggle their worm-like tails to lure prey items within striking range.
  • The name 'common death adder' is a bit odd, considering this species is classified as 'rare' due to the destruction of its habitat.
  • Death adders have an undeserved reputation for ferocity. Sometimes they don't even bite when trodden on!

Where Death Adders are found in Australia:

Death Adder