Inland Taipan Oxyuranus microlepidotus

Snakes of Victoria series


The Inland Taipan, Oxyuranus microlepidotus, also called the Fierce or Small-scaled Snake, is a large rich brown or olive brown snake. It has 23 rows of mid-body scales, a single anal scale and 55-70 divided subcaudal scales. It may exceed 2 metres in total length.

Photo of Inland Taipan

Inland Taipan
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

The only Victorian specimens were collected near the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers in 1857.  It lives in areas of cracking soils of river overflows, flood plains or on gibber plains.

Biology and bite

Active by day, the Inland Taipan feeds on small mammals. Females lay 12-20 eggs in a clutch.

The Inland Taipan is extremely venomous, possessing the most potent venom of any snake. However, humans rarely come into contact with this snake and no one has died as a result of a bite. If bitten on a limb, apply a pressure bandage, immobilise the limb and seek medical advice immediately. If bitten elsewhere, apply continual direct pressure to the bite site. Do not wash the wound as the venom can confirm the identification of the snake.

Further Reading

Coventry, A. J. and Robertson, P. 1991. The Snakes of Victoria – A Guide to their Identification. Department of Conservation & Environment/Museum of Victoria.

Cogger, H. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books.

Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2003. Reptiles of Australia. Princeton University Press.

Comments (5)

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John 24 January, 2013 16:52
I think I have a large (1.5m) adult in my garden, near Tallangatta, VIC. Very shy, enjoys the paved areas in full sun but quickly retreats when we open the back door or approach within 5m or so. My garden is about 100 years old, overgrown and delightfully full of wildlife with plenty of rats and mice to attract the kites, owls and snakes. The snake has that curious light and dark "cross hatch" pattern in the photo above that I had not seen before. Hence the attempt at identification. Am I close?
Discovery Centre 25 January, 2013 09:55

Hi John,

In order for us to provide you with a positive identification we would really need to see an image.  Perhaps if the opportunity arises you might take a quick picture of the snake which we can then pass on to our experts for identification.

John 2 March, 2013 13:34
I have caught and examined my snake. Turns out to have a divided anal scale - so Eastern Brown but with lighter colour than average it seems. Aggressive little bugger when cornered. In case you are wondering, Eric Worrell was my childhood hero and I have his book.
Julia Dunn 16 April, 2015 03:52
Do inland Taipains like to go up trees??? I thought I had a large tree snake in my backyard. I have only seen the middle body and end as it moved up the tree - twice now. But on my description of it to others and from the pictures I have seen of the inland Taipan I think it may be one really big Taipan in my tree - please help. I live in Central Queenland (Clermont)
Discovery Centre 21 April, 2015 11:37
Hi Julia - according to our Live Exhibits team, Inland Taipans Oxyuranus microlepidotus usually live on the ground or in soil cracks and are commonly found around farmland feeding on rodents. It’s unlikely that they will be found in trees. The snake is more likely to be a King Brown, or Mulga Snake Pseudechis australis, which does climb trees more often, as do Tiger Snakes Notechis scutatus.
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