The Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit is temporarily closed through Fall 2022.

Death Adder

(Acanthophis praelongus)

Overview

The northern variety of this snake has a broad triangular head, with a short, thick body and thin tail. Golden and brown stripes alternate along its body, fading to a more consistent brown close to the head.

Other varieties of death adder are similar in appearance, with the greatest change from species to species being a difference in coloration. Some color variations also exist within the same species from region to region.

While other snakes generally retreat when humans approach, death adders remain motionless, blending in with their environment. Most fatal bites to humans occur after accidentally stepping on these snakes, provoking a bite.

A Note From the Caretaker

We have an elaborate system of checks and balances in place, including alarms and antivenin, to ensure the safe management of these tremendously venomous snakes.

Quick Facts

Learn more about the death adder! Did you know that the death adder lures its prey using the tip of its tail as bait?

The northern death adder’s range is limited to the forests and woodlands of northern Australia, but other varieties of death adder inhabit other areas of Australia.

The death adder’s diet consists mainly of frogs, birds, lizards, mice and rats. It uses its tail as a grub-like lure to attract prey within striking distance.

The death adder of northern Australia generally grows to be between 31 and 36 inches long.

Although the northern death adder is currently common within its range, its numbers are believed to be declining as its habitat is progressively eroded by human activity.

The death adder’s deadly venom prevents most animals from preying on it, but they are cannibalistic.

Meet the Expert Ken Howell

As the curator of the Upland Tropical Rain Forest, Amazon River Forest and Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits, Ken starts his day early, walking through each exhibit.

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