Death Adder, Acanthophis hawkei


Death Adder, Acanthophis hawkei in Kakadu National Park

The only snake seen during nearly 5 weeks in Australia is this one. To me it looked like an Adder, but I'm not an expert. It wasn't large, some 80 cm, and really shy as many snakes are. I photographed it in Kakadu National Park. As soon as it felt detected, it disappeared under the Eucalypt leaves.

I asked the visitors of this website for informations, and now Manfred Dorka wrote me, it was a Death Adder, Acanthophis hawkei, formerly A. cummingi. He also wrote, Death Adders are no Adders at all, they only look like. In fact they are elapids like Mambas and Kobras. Death Adders are native in Australia and New Guinea. They live in the Outback in light forrests and swamps. They hide under bark and dry leaves on the ground waiting for their prey, which might be rodents, birds or reptiles. To attract them, the snake moves the thin tailtip acting like a worm. Normally the snake does not escape nor attac, it calmly relies on it's camouflage.
The colour may vary between red, grey and brown and have lighter or darker bands, with a maximum body length of 1 metre. The females give birth to up to 20 juveniles. Even though it is one of the most venomous snakes of the planet, one may not predict what happens after a bite: it largely varies and depends on many factors, so there always is hope and good reason to make any effort to call the doctor instead of the priest...



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