Skip to main content

You are here

Death Adder

Watch those fangs!

They are the longest of any Australian snake.

Description: The Common Death Adder has a flat, triangular head, stout body, narrow neck and short tail.   It is 40-100 cm in length and is dark-reddish to greyish-brown with pale transverse bands.  The lips are white with dark vertical stripes and its underbelly is white with dark flecks.  The tail ends in a modified tip (a soft spine) which is cream or black and looks like a small grub.  Females are bigger than males.

Diet: Adults mainly feed on small mammals, birds, reptiles (geckoes and small lizards), and frogs.  Young Common Death Adders consume small reptiles and frogs.

In the wild: Common Death Adders are nocturnal or diurnal, depending on the temperature of their environment. They are sedentary and secretive. They are ‘ambush’ hunters, lying in wait for their prey, well camouflaged within the leaf litter.  When prey approaches, they use twitching movements of the ‘grub-like’ tip of their tail as a lure.  This normally sluggish snake strikes very fast when prey is within range.  Their long front fangs administer large doses of venom; this complex neurotoxin causes paralysis and death to its prey and is also very dangerous to humans.

Threats: Land clearing has resulted in habitat loss for this snake and other Australian reptiles.

Did you know?

Death Adders are not true adders even though their hunting tactics are similar.

Other name
Coastal Death Adder
Scientific name
Acanthophis antarcticus
Conservation status
Least Concern
Body length
40-100 cm
Class
Reptile
Gestation
6-9 months
Number of young
10-20
Distribution
South-west, southern coastal and eastern Australia
Habitat
Forests, woodlands, grasslands and scrub
Region
Australia

Where you can find me

Where you can find me

Map of Perth Zoo highlighting the Reptile Encounter