Caught and Coloured: Zoology Illustrations from Colonial Victoria




Death Adder, Acanthophis antarcticus

Image Details
  • Plate Number: 12
  • Media: Lithographic proof - lithographic pencil and watercolour on paper
  • Artist: Ludwig Becker
  • Lithographer: Ludwig Becker
  • Location: Australia, Victoria, near Murray River
  • Primary inscriptions: [numbers for scales for explanation of Figures]
Transcript from the Prodromus of Zoology

Plate 12. Death Adder, Acanthophis antarctica (now known as Acanthophis antarcticus) found at hot tracts near the Murray River

This is the only Australian snake approaching the true viperine venomous snakes in having the fangs perforated and not grooved; they are, however, not so movable, but permanently erect, as in the Elapidœ: the whole of the characters of the singular genus Acanthophis (of which the present species is the only one known) incline to classing it in the family Viperidœ rather than with Colubrine snakes, although it is intermediate between the two groups in many respects. The popular name seems to be indifferently Death Adder or Deaf Adder. The harmless horny spine at the end of the tail is its most dangerous weapon, in the popular belief. It is generally supposed to be the most deadly of all the Australian snakes. A large dog bitten by a captive Death Adder in one of Dr. Halford's experiments was dead in 18 minutes.

When irritated if flattens the thick part of the body very greatly, and has a particular action of snapping to one side and the other alternately with great quickness when about to strike.