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  • The 24-36 inch copperhead is responsible for approx. 35 % of all venomous bites in USA. Read More
  • Cottonmouth snakes forage by ambushing their prey, and will avoid humans at all costs. Read More
  • The average death rate from krait bites in Asia is 7 %. It is highly feared in India. Read More
  • The puff adder can strike with lightning speed and most of its victims are from Africa. Read More
  • Cobra's are the largest and deadliest snakes in the world. Read More
  • Known by its triangular head. The venom from the Russel's viper causes renal failure within hours.
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  • The coral snake is not as dangerous as people think and fatalities are uncommon.
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  • The gaboon is a rather calm snake, but deaths from its venom occur fast.
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  • Lancehead snakes accounts for approx. 90 % of all snake envenomations in South America.
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  • The rattlesnakes rattle is composed of scales. Amputations from its bite are common.
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  • The taipan snake has the lowest LD50-value of all snakes. 0.030 mg/kg can kill 50 people.
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  • Bushmasters are the largest vipers and lengths of 6 feet are common.
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  • The black mamba is largest and deadliest snake of Africa. Most, but not all, survive its bite.
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  • Fangs of sea snakes are mostly to short to penetrate human skin. Related to Cobras!
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  • Tiger snakes are roaming around Australia, including islands such as Tasmania.
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  • The death adder can attract prey by wiggling its tail. Its venom is slow to take effect.
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  • The boomslang is long and slender perfectly camouflaged African snake.
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  • Burrowings asps have the longest fangs relative to their head size of any snakes.
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  • The Moorish viper is the largest viper in Africa. It has a zig-zag pattern on its body.
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  • The horned viper is a typical ambusher. Usually, its bite is not deadly.
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  • The night adder is responsible for most venomous snake bites in Africa - it is not deadly.
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  • The most common types of antivenom and how it is produced and used.
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  • Read about people who has survived snake bites and see how bites affected them.
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  • See annotated videos of venomous snakes from around the world.
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  • See annotated images of venomous snakes from around the world.
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  • How did snakes evolve and how is the geological record of snakes.
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  • See a top 5 list of the most venomous snakes in the world.
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The Death Adder:Moving Its Tail Like a Copperhead

By Anders Nielsen, Ph.d.

A death adder has a spine on its tail. Its name, Acanthophis, is from the Greeks usage of the words spine and snake.

There are several sub-species of this snake, all of which are found in Australia. Well, there is one that can be found in Indonesia and New Guinea, a special one that won't be treated here—the smooth-scaled death adder.

Their head has the same shape as the copperhead snake;that is, a triangular shape. Maybe that is why some people mistakecopperhead snakes for death adders.

They are ambushers and wait for prey to get so close that they can strike. Like the copperhead, they use their tail to lure prey closer. When the prey, usually a rodent, gets close enough to see what it is with that moving tail, the death adder strikes.

Overview of the Death Adder

This video is perhaps a bit rough, but if you like venomous snakes, you will definitely enjoy it.

Luring of Prey

Scientific studies have shown how this luring works. In a study by Chiszar et al. (1990) showed that the movements of its tail increased whenever lizards were near and that the lizards were attracted to its tail. The researchers identified two types of caudal movements. One type was for the situation when prey was near for getting the prey even closer. The other type was a kind of a casual luring technique using a "probe" to attract prey out of the snake’s view.

This video shows the caudal movements that attract prey.

Like the cottonmouth snake, death adders will often strike many times and repeatedly, thereby injecting a large dose of venom.

Its venom is extremely potent. Just like the tiger snake, the death adder’s venom has a very low LD50-value. It can inject as much as 100 mg of venom, whereas the LD50 is only 0.5 mg/kg. If humans have the same resistance to death adder venom as mice, there would be more than a 50% chance that an ordinary person would die from a death adder bite.

The good news is that symptoms of the venom from this snake peak after 24-48 hours and not immediately. Hence, people usually get antivenin in time and before they die from complete paralysis. In remote areas of New Guinea, people occasionally die from its bite.

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et al. "Snakebite mortality in Costa Rica", Toxicon, Vol. 35 pp. 1639-43 (1997)

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